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This week’s best theatre shows: our critics’ picks (December 5)

How to Win Against History Matthew Blake (left) and Seiriol Davies in How to Win Against History. Photo: Rah Petherbridge
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Natasha Tripney

Don’t miss

How to Win Against History – Young Vic, London

Seiriol Davies’ wonderful three-man musical about the life of the Marquis of Anglesey, a cross-dresser and wearer of spectacular hats, was without a doubt one of the best shows of the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Self aware and full of wit, it gets a deserved run at the Young Vic, opening on December 5.

Also worth seeing

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Sally Cookson can work magic. Having directed Peter Pan at the National Theatre last year, she now creates CS Lewis’ classic children’s novel, with designer Rae Smith recreating Narnia in the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s vast Quarry Theatre  in a production that opens on December 6.

Read our interview with Rae Smith

Working Christmas – Old Fire Station, Oxford

Jonny Donahoe, comedian and star of Every Brilliant Thing, and James Rowland, writer of Team Viking and latterly also the star of Every Brilliant Thing, have written a Christmas show for grown ups for Oxford’ Old Fire Station. Starring comedians Omar Ibrahim and Joanna Neary, it opens on December 8.

Team Viking review, Just the Tonic, Edinburgh – ‘Heart-lifting and incredibly moving’


There But For The Grace of God (Go I) – Camden People’s Theatre, London

Adam Welsh, co-founder of Dead Centre, the Irish company behind cult show Lippy, brings a new solo show about parents and children to Camden People’s Theatre, London, from December 5-9.

Mark Shenton

Don’t Miss

Gabrielle Brooks in rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz. Photo: Johan Persson

The Wizard of Oz – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Sheffield’s new artistic director Robert Hastie directs his first Christmas musical there: a stage version of the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz, with a cast led by Gabrielle Brooks as Dorothy and also featuring Jonathan Broadbent, Andrew Langree and Max Parker as the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Mann, running from December 7 and opening officially on December 13.

Also worth seeing

The Barricade Boys – The Other Palace, London

The Les Mis principals The Barricade Boys are joined by star guests for a season featuring Christmas music, running December 5-23, including such luminaries as Oliver Savile (December 6), Michael Xavier (December 7), Rachel Tucker (December 9 matinee) and Killian Donnelly (December 14 matinee).

Thirty Christmases – New Diorama, London

Jonny Donahoe (him again), Paddy Gervers and Rachel Parris bring Thirty Christmases, a festive comedy about homelessness and life in foster care, that premiered in Oxford last year to the New Diorama this week. It opens on December 8.

Thirty Christmases review at the Old Fire Station, Oxford – ‘warm, touching and funny’

Cabaret of the Week

John Owen-Jones – Crazy Coqs, London

The West End tenor John Owen-Jones, who has played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera more than any other actor in history (nearly 2000 times), performs a solo cabaret at London’s Crazy Coqs on December 10 and 11.

Concert of the week

A Christmas Carol – Lyceum Theatre, London

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra present two concert performances of a musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Featuring music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and starring Robert Lindsay as Scrooge and also featuring Hugh Maynard, Gemma Sutton, Michael Xavier and Glenn Carter, the concerts are on December 11 and 18.