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This week’s best theatre shows: our critics’ picks (February 27)

Michael Pennington in rehearsals for Fanny and Alexander. Photo: Manuel Harlan Michael Pennington in rehearsals for Fanny and Alexander. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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Natasha Tripney

Don’t Miss

Fanny and Alexander – Old Vic, London

Penelope Wilton heads a cast that also includes Jonathan Slinger and Michael Pennington in Pride-writer Stephen Beresford’s adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman film, exploring the imagination-rich world of two siblings, Fanny and Alexander, their wider family, and the theatre they run. Max Webster’s production opens on March 1.

Also worth seeing

The Turn of the Screw – Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Daniel Buckroyd directs a new touring version of Henry James’ classic novella. Adapted for the stage by Tim Luscombe and co-produced by Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, it tells the story of a young governess sent to a remote house to look after two children – done well, it has the potential to chill and unsettle. It opens on March 1.

Not I – Battersea Arts Centre, London

Jess Thom follows up Backstage in Biscuit Land with a production of Beckett’s notoriously intense monologue. Thom has Tourette’s which makes her “neurologically incapable of sticking to a script.” Her take on Not I is as much an exploration of what roles disabled performers get to occupy. It opens on March 1.

Backstage in Biscuit Land review at Barbican Pit – ‘a celebratory show’

Smile Upon Us, Lord – Barbican Theatre, London

Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia return to the Barbican following its gorgeous staging of Eugene Onegin, with a new production, Smile upon Us, Lord, adapted from two novels by Lithuanian-born writer, Grigory Kanovich, and directed by Lithuanian director, Rimas Tuminas. It runs from February 26-March 3.

Mark Shenton

Don’t Miss

The Best Man – Playhouse Theatre, London

This production of Gore Vidal’s 1960 Broadway play The Best Man opens in the West End this week following a tour. Martin Shaw plays a former secretary of state running for the Democratic party nomination for presidential candidate against an unscrupulous opponent. In the age of Trump, it could not be more topical. It opens on March 5, with a cast that also includes Maureen Lipman, Jack Shepherd, Jeff Fahey, Honeysuckle Weeks and Glynis Barber.

Martin Shaw and Maureen Lipman to star in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man

Also worth seeing

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – London Coliseum

Robert Carson’s 2004 ENO production of Benjamin Britten’s operatic version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is revived, with a cast led by countertenor Christopher Ainslie as Oberon and Soraya Mafi as Tytania. It has a run of six performances, beginning from March 1.

Matilda – Curve, Leicester

While the hit Royal Shakespeare Company musical version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda is still running at the West End’s Cambridge Theatre, a major UK tour is launched in Leicester this week, beginning performances on March 5. Craige Els reprises the role of Miss Trunchbull a part he played in London for three years between 2014 and 2017.

Event of the Week

The Liberty Truck – Middle Temple Hall, London

The Kalisher Players stage a celebrity charity reading of Laurie Slade’s new play The Liberty Truck, about the first women lawyers. The cast is set to include Edward Fox, Simon Callow, Ray Fearon, Hugh Dennis, Honeysuckle Weeks and Guy Henry. It takes place at Middle Temple on March 4.

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