5. Doctor Faustus
The Bike Shed Theatre, until 24 February
The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter announced the sad news last month that, given a lack of funding, it will be forced to close at the end of March. With time running out the venue has a few shows still to host including Tangle Theatre's Dr Faustus, which transposes Marlowe's original piece (about a scholar selling his soul to Satan) to the present day. The African Caribbean theatre company also promises to interweave the production with music and song, so this sounds like a fresh take on a classic tale. The piece will tour the UK for the next few months.
4. Napoleon Disrobed
Arcola Theatre, until 10 March
Told by an Idiot's latest show starts with a fun counterfactual question – what would happen if Napoleon had survived his exile and lived on? It's a fun little quandary that allows the creative force of Paul Hunter and Kathryn Hunter (no relation) to create a witty and postmodern piece. After opening in Plymouth earlier this month, the show now comes to east London's Arcola Theatre ahead of trips to Scarborough and Birmingham. Given Told by an Idiot's success with their previous shows including the five-star My Perfect Mind, this looks like it'll be a fun fringe treat.
3. Picnic at Hanging Rock
Barbican Theatre, until 24 February
Joan Lindsay's 1967 cult novel Picnic at Hanging Rock is a strange tale – about the unexplained disappearance of three Australian schoolgirls and their teacher. Now it comes to the Barbican in a stage adaptation that made its UK premiere at the Lyceum in Edinburgh last year, after first being seen at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. The novel looks set to be in the public eye for a while, with Natalie Dormer leading a new TV adaptation which premieres in Australia in the summer.
2. Brighton Rock
York Theatre Royal, until 3 March then UK tour
Bryony Lavery will be having a bumper year in 2018, with no less than four shows opening across the UK, with premieres in Northampton and Chichester and a West End revival (see below...). But before then she also has a brand new adaptation of Graham Greene's classic novel Brighton Rock opening at York Theatre Royal ahead of an extensive UK tour produced by Pilot Theatre. With a cast including Jacob James Beswick and Sarah Middleton, the show looks set to transport the gripping criminal world of Greene's Brighton to the stage.
Theatre Royal Haymarket, until 5 May
Lavery's second show in our top openings, Frozen (not to be confused with a certain Disney musical) is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary after opening in 1998. It also went to Broadway in 2004 where it was nominated for a Tony Award for Best New Play. A chilling story about the inner recesses of the mind of a paedophile and the mother of one of his victims, the piece stars Doctor Foster lead Suranne Jones alongside Jason Watkins and Nina Sosanya.
- Theatre Royal Haymarket
- Told by an Idiot
- Paul Hunter
- Arcola Theatre
- Bike Shed Theatre
- Doctor Faustus
- Barbican Theatre
- Kathryn Hunter
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