Amongst the major openings in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 19 March 2007 (previews from 14 March), award-winning new writer Lucy Caldwell’s first play Leaves opens at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs for a run to 7 April (See News, 6 Feb 2007). The play, which won last year’s George Devine Award and is directed by Garry Hynes, is a family drama about a girl who comes back after a term at university, where things have already gone badly wrong.

ALSO TONIGHT (previews from 15 March), Dundee Rep’s production of David Greig’s Europe - about love, loss and longing in a small Eastern European town - opens at the Barbican Pit for a run to 31 March 2007, directed by Douglas Rintoul.

OPENING TUESDAY, 20 March 2007 (previews from 3 March), Maggie Smith returns to the West End in the British premiere of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited three-month season to 9 June (See News, 24 Nov 2006). In Albee’s rarely seen 1980 play, a party at which three couples have been playing 20 Questions ends when Jo (Catherine McCormack), the hostess who is dying of cancer, can no longer bear her pain. Afterwards, a mysterious woman, the “lady from Dubuque” (Smith), who may be the mother of the hostess, arrives and raises more difficult questions. Anthony Page directs the production.

ALSO ON TUESDAY, Breakfast Hearts and Choirplay, two short plays by Robin French about modern love and cannibalism, premiere at Theatre503 for a run to 7 April 2007, directed by Jennie Fellows (See News, 17 Jan 2007).

ALSO ON TUESDAY, Northern Broadsides’ production of The Tempest arrives at Greenwich Theatre for a run to 24 March 2007 as part of a UK tour. Barrie Rutter directs.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 21 March 2007 (previews from 19 March), Sizwe Banzi Is Dead opens at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre for a run to 4 April (See News, 2 Nov 2006). In the early 1970s, at a time when collaboration between black and white theatre practitioners was the exception in South Africa, John Kani and Winston Ntshona worked with playwright Athol Fugard to create this comic examination of friendship, hope and the nature of identity, as one of many struggles to survive under apartheid. Kani and Ntshona were last seen at the National in 2002 in The Island (which they also co-wrote with Fugard). This production, directed by Aubrey Sekhabi, comes to the NT from South Africa’s Baxter Theatre Centre.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 13 March), Howard Goodall’s 1990 musical Days of Hope, which stars West End regulars David Burt and Siobhan McCarthy, opens at north London’s King’s Head Theatre for a run to 22 April (See News, 22 Feb 2007). The musical, which has a book by Renata Allen, is set in 1939 during the Spanish Civil War, on the eve of a flight to freedom, with Sofia and her family preparing for one last meal. Russell Labey directs.

OPENING THURSDAY, 22 March 2007 (previews from 19 March), a modern-dress production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, starring Rachael Stirling and Oliver Chris, opens at Wilton’s Music Hall for a run to 28 April 2007, directed by Nick Hutchison. It’s the first production in a planned annual season of “Shakespeare at Wilton’s”.

ALSO ON THUSDAY, Pilot Theatre’s touring production of Roy Williams’ football drama Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads arrives at Hackney Empire, where it runs until 25 March 2007.

OPENING SUNDAY, 25 March 2007, English National Opera performs The Unknown Kurt Weill - some of the greatest works of the composer of The Threepenny Opera and Brecht’s closest collaborator - at the Young Vic for one night only.

- by Caroline Ansdell