Amongst the major openings in London this week are:

OPENING MONDAY, 31 March 2008 (previews from 27 March), the touring production of David Harrower’s Olivier Award-winning play Blackbird arrives at Kingston’s Rose Theatre, starring Dawn Steele and Robert Daws as a couple who reunite 15 years after they had an intense, illegal relationship. The play was a hit at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2005 and received a West End transfer in 2006, with original cast members Jodhi May and Roger Allam.


OPENING TUESDAY, 1 April 2008, the Royal Shakespeare Company RSC transfers its complete cycle of The Histories to the Roundhouse (See News, 28 Jun 2007). Charting 100 years of English history, the cycle comprises includes eight plays - Richard II, Henry IV (Parts I & II), Henry V, Henry VI (Parts I, II & III) and Richard III - and a full 24 hours of Shakespeare in performance, all performed by a single company (including David Warner as Falstaff) and directed by RSC artistic director Michael Boyd. The marathon is billed as “a once in a lifetime opportunity”.

ALSO ON TUESDAY, the RSC’s London season continues at Hackney Empire with Noughts and Crosses, adapted and directed Dominic Cooke (a former RSC associate director who is now artistic director of the Royal Court), from Malorie Blackman’s novel. The production marks the first visit by the RSC to Hackney, and runs for a week only to 5 April as part of a national tour.


OPENING WEDNESDAY, 2 April 2008 (previews from 28 March), Bliss, by French-Canadian playwright Olivier Choinière and translated by Caryl Churchill, opens at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. The play about celebrity and fantasy stars Brid Brennan, Hayley Carmichael, Neil Dudgeon and Justin Salinger (See News, 4 Mar 2008). It’s directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins and runs until 26 April.


OPENING THURSDAY, 3 April 2008 (previews from 28 March), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, written by Stephen Adly Guirgis (author of Jesus Hopped the A Train), receives its European premiere at the Almeida Theatre (See News, 30 Oct 2007). In the courtroom drama which puts the forces of good and evil on trial, Douglas Henshall stars as Satan. The Headlong Theatre co-production is directed by Headlong artistic director, Rupert Goold, a three-time Best Director winner this year for Macbeth. It continues until 10 May 2008.


OPENING FRIDAY, 4 April 2008 (previews from 1 April), Out of Joint’s premiere production of David Edgar’s new play Testing the Echo arrives at the Tricycle Theatre, where it runs until 3 May as the penultimate stop on its national tour. (See News, 15 Jan 2008). Described as “a fascinating tapestry about the twisting road to becoming British”, the play centres on a group of immigrants in the UK.

ALSO ON FRIDAY (previews from 1 April), Greg Hicks leads the company in Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new adaptation of An Enemy of the People at the Arcola Theatre in east London. The production runs until 26 April and is followed by another Ibsen classic, The Lady from the Sea, starring Lia Williams.

ALSO ON FRIDAY, the British premiere of Olga Neuwirth and Elfrieda Jelinek’s opera adaptation of the David Lynch film Lost Highway opens the English National Opera’s first-ever season at the Young Vic (See News, 27 Dec 2007). ENO artistic director John Berry directs.

ALSO ON FRIDAY (previews from 1 April), Lisa Spirling presents her production of Cotton Wool at Battersea’s Theatre503. Set in Gordon Brown’s hometown in Scotland, two teenage brothers - Callum and Gussie - are desperate to discover what lies under the waves. The production runs for four weeks until 26 April 2008.


OPENING SUNDAY, 6 April 2008, Notes from New York returns to the Duchess Theatre for one night only with Notes in Heels starring series regulars Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer.

- by Tom Atkins & Terri Paddock