Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 25 April 2005 (previews from 20 April), Harold Pinter’s first full-length play, The Birthday Party, is revived at the West End’s Duchess Theatre (See News, 11 Feb 2005), in a production directed by Lindsay Posner and starring multiple Olivier winners Henry Goodman and Eileen Atkins. First staged in 1958, the piece centres on unemployed musician Stanley, who leads a mundane but peaceful life as the only guest living with the mumsy doting Meg (Atkins) and quiet agreeable Petey. When the sinister Goldberg (Goodman) and McCann arrive, their intentions grow progressively ominous. The production, which comes to the West End after Birmingham Rep and selected regional dates, The Birthday Party is booking at the Duchess until 9 July 2005.

OPENING TUESDAY, 26 April 2005 (previews from 20 April), another production opened first at Birmingham Rep, Elmina's Kitchen transfers to the West End’s Garrick Theatre, following its regional tour (See News, 17 Mar 2005). Actor-turned playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah makes his West End writing and acting debut with the play, which earned him the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright after it premiered at the National Theatre in 2003.

Set in Hackney, east London, where the Yardies are eating up the “Murder Mile” Kwei-Armah plays the part of Deli (originally played by Paterson Joseph at the NT), who’s desperately trying to keep his restaurant in business and his son in line with other temptations looming. The new West End production, once again directed by Angus Jackson (who directed Kwei-Armah’s Fix Up), is booking until 20 August 2005.

** DON’T MISS our Outing on 9 May to Elmina’s Kitchen, including Q&A with Kwei-Armah! – all for just £15!! - click here! **

OPENING THURSDAY, 28 April 2005 (previews from 26 April), If Destroyed True concludes Paines Plough’s “This Other England” season at south London’s Menier Chocolate Factory (See News, 25 Nov 2005). Douglas Maxwell’s play centres on Vincent, an inhabitant of New Flood (officially the Worst Town in Scotland), who has something of the gift about him. Directed by John Tiffany, the play arrives direct from Scotland’s Dundee Rep and continues its limited London season until 22 May.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 26 April), the Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court, west London, celebrates its 25th anniversary production with a new production of Arthur Wing Pinero’s Trelawny of the Wells, directed by former Finborough artistic director Phil Willmott. It continues until 21 May 2005.

- by Hannah Kennedy