11 Of The Best Theatre Shows To Book This Season

From a new musical celebrating one of the 80s biggest literary heroes to a new play which reunites Matt Smith and Claire Foy, here’s SL’s pick of what to book this summer…

The Lehman Trilogy

The story of a family and a company that changed the world, told in three parts on a single evening. Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes (Skyfall, The Ferryman) directs Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles as the Lehman Brothers, their sons and grandsons. On a cold September morning in 1844 a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside. Dreaming of a new life in the new world. He is joined by his two brothers and an American epic begins. 163 years later, the firm they establish – Lehman Brothers – spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy and triggers the largest financial crisis in history. This critically acclaimed and five-time Olivier Award nominated play features stunning set design from Es Devlin, alongside three powerful performances. Get tickets while you can.

Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, West End, W1D 7DY; until 31st August

Visit ATGTickets.com

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

You know you’ve seen a terrific musical when, three-weeks later, you’re still singing along to a song you’ve heard just once. But even without the ear worms, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie hits the mark when it comes to successful new productions: a fantastic, believable cast, poignancy and a collective sense of elation as the curtain falls to a standing ovation. Set in Sheffield, the play centres on the titular Jamie New, a 16-year-old boy who wants to become a drag queen. Based on a 2011 BBC Three documentary, we follow Jamie (played brilliantly by Layton Williams) as he faces prejudice and setbacks for vowing to wear a dress and heels at his school prom. Also stars Faye Tozer and Bianca Del Rio.

Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, West End, W1D 7EZ; until January 2020

Visit EverybodysTalkingAboutJamie.co.uk

Present Laughter

As he prepares to embark on an overseas tour, star actor Garry Essendine’s colourful life is in danger of spiralling out of control. Engulfed by an escalating identity crisis as his many and various relationships compete for his attention, Garry’s few remaining days at home are a chaotic whirlwind of love, sex, panic and soul-searching. A giddy and surprisingly modern reflection on fame, desire and loneliness, Matthew Warchus directs man of the moment Andrew Scott (Fleabag, Black Mirror, Sherlock) in Noël Coward’s provocative comedy Present Laughter.

Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8NB; from 17th June-10th August

Visit OldVicTheatre.com

The Damned

Crackling with intensity, this triumphant spectacle depicts the disintegration of a society, undone through a venomous alliance, the drama finding unsettling parallels today. Luchino Visconti’s screenplay is the springboard for a ceaselessly creative production, which follows a family of German industrialists – the corrupt and debauched Essenbeck clan. With echoes of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy, their deepening collusion with the nascent Nazi regime puts them on a perilous path to destruction. Director Ivan Van Hove and his long-time collaborator Jan Versweyveld populate the Barbican stage with a company of 30 actors and technicians. Archival footage and live recordings projected onto a screen form a counterpoint to the immense action on stage, while a roving camera is turned on the audience.

Barbican, Silk Street, Clerkenwell, EC2Y 8DS; 19th-25th June

Visit Barbican.org.uk


Following a sold-out run at the Donmar Warehouse, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat has transferred to the West End’s for just 50 performances. This breathtaking play delivers as it delves deep into the forgotten heart of middle America. Centred around the friendships of factory workers and set in an all-American bar, the play explores the relationships, resentments and fears of a community left divided by de-industrialisation, as simmering racial tensions and mounting anger lead to a devastating outcome for the residents of Reading, Pennsylvania.

Gielgud Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue, West End, W1D 6AR; until 20th July

Visit GielgudTheatre.co.uk

Education, Education, Education

The Wardrobe Ensemble’s hit comedy Education, Education, Education has returned for a West End run at the Trafalgar Studios. It’s May 1997: the iPhone doesn’t exist, no one knows who Harry Potter is, Titanic is on the shelves of every Blockbuster and we have just won Eurovision. Britain is the coolest place in the world. Education, Education, Education dissects education and responsibility at the dawn of Blair’s Britain in 1997. This whip-smart love letter throws audiences back to the 90s; the music, the fads and icons as well as issues that remain pertinent to the 21st-century experience.

Trafalgar Studios 1, 14 Whitehall, SW1A 2DY; until 29th June

Visit ATGTickets.com

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

From the team behind last year’s smash-hit Julius Caesar, Gwendoline Christie, Oliver Chris, David Moorst and Hammed Animashaun lead the cast as Titania, Oberon, Puck and Bottom in this William Shakespeare classic. The Bridge Theatre will become the forest – a dream world of flying fairies, contagious fogs and moonlight revels. Meanwhile, the seating be wrapped around the action, while the immersive tickets allow the story to be followed on foot.

Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, Tower Bridge, SE1 2SG; until 31st August

Visit BridgeTheatre.co.uk

The Starry Messenger

Hollywood star Matthew Broderick makes his West End debut in The Starry Messenger by Kenneth Lonergan, the Academy Award-winning writer of Manchester By The Sea. Mark Williams (Broderick) is lost. An astronomer at NYC’s Planetarium, he feels a closer connection to the infinite, starry sky than to his job or even to his wife, Anne (Elizabeth McGovern). Mark doesn't believe in fate or divine intervention, but the universe has other ideas. After a chance meeting with Angela, a young single mother, Mark feels starry-eyed. But when a catastrophic event rips through their lives, Mark is forced to re-evaluate his life, his faith and his place in the universe itself.

Wyndham's Theatre, Charing Cross Road, Covent Garden, WC2H 0DA; until 10th August

Visit DelfontMacKintosh.co.uk


An election looming. A country on the brink. A rabid press baying for blood. At the centre of the storm stands Rosmer's home, the grand house of an influential dynasty. This is where the future will be decided by John Rosmer, a man torn between the idealised hope of the future and the ghosts of his past. This Ibsen classic is a twisting thriller and stars two electrifying actors in the leading roles. Tom Burke (Strike, The Musketeers) is the soulful Rosmer haunted by history and tradition. Hayley Atwell (Howards End, Captain America) is Rebecca West. Enigmatic and unpredictable, free-spirited Rebecca brings the winds of change to Rosmersholm with the force of a hurricane.

Duke of York's Theatre, 104 St Martin's Lane, West End, WC2N 4BG; until 20th July

Visit ATGTickets.com


Yes, we know this one doesn’t open until October, but we guarantee this will be a sell-out. The ice caps are melting, there’s overpopulation, political unrest; everything’s going to hell in a handcart – why on earth would someone bring a baby into this world? Directed by Matthew Warchus, The Crown’s Claire Foy and Matt Smith reunite to make their Old Vic debuts in Duncan Macmillan’s hilarious emotional rollercoaster of a play, as a couple wrestle with our planet’s biggest dilemmas.

Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8NB; from 14th October, tickets on sale now

Visit OldVicTheatre.com

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole – The Musical

This joyous new musical adaptation of Sue Townsend's best-selling book The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ arrives in London for a strictly limited season. It’s a timeless tale of teenage angst, family struggles and unrequited love, told through the eyes of tortured poet and misunderstood intellectual Adrian Mole. One of the most enduring comedy characters of all time, he’s the hapless, hilarious, spotty teenager who captured the zeitgeist of 1980s Britain. With an infectious score and a script as sidesplittingly outrageous as the original novel, this critically acclaimed production brings Adrian’s story to life for a new generation of theatregoers.

Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, West End, WC2H 9ND; until 12th October

Visit AdrianMoleTheMusical.com

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