Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING TUESDAY, Tuesday 27 June 2006 (previews from 17 June), at the National Theatre, Katie Mitchell directs a new production of Chekhov’s The Seagull, in the NT Lyttelton where she had a critical hit on the same stage with Chekhov’s Three Sisters in 2003. In Martin Crimp’s new pared-down version, Juliet Stevenson and Ben Whishaw star as Arkadina and Konstantin respectively, in a cast that also features Hattie Morahan (as Nina), Angus Wright, Mark Bazeley, Sandy McDade and Justin Salinger as well as Michael Gould, Sean Jackson, Liz Kettle (See News, 11 Apr 2006).

ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 21 June), Kathryn Hunter plays Mr Ido, a man whose family is kidnapped and, in the midst of the media glare, seeks vengeance, in Hideki Noda and Colin Teevan’s tragic satire The Bee, which runs at Soho Theatre until 15 July 2006 (See News, 13 Apr 2006). The cast also features Tony Bell.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 28 June 2006 (previews from 1 June), Tony Award-winning Broadway musical comedy Avenue Q receives its UK premiere at the newly renamed Noel Coward Theatre (formerly the Albery). The offbeat show – billed as a musical form of Sesame Street meets South Park - features a cast of just seven humans, three of them playing humans, the rest manipulating multiple puppets that include a closet gay puppet called Rod, a porn-addicted puppet called Trekkie Monster, and a puppet looking for love called Kate Monster (See News, 17 Feb 2006).

Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s musical reunites the New York creative team led by director Jason Moore and designer Rick Lyon, while the cast features original Broadway cast member Ann Harada along with a British team including Giles Terera and Julie Atherton.

OPENING THURSDAY, 29 June 2006 (previews from 20 June), Douglas Hodge (currently on stage himself in Titus Andronicus at the Globe) directs Philip King’s wartime comedy See How They Run, which comes to the West End’s Duchess Theatre following a regional tour (See News, 28 Apr 2006). Credited as the original “English vicar” play, the 1942 comedy, set in an idyllic village where the inhabitants are preparing for Nazi invasion, inspired the long-running TV series Dad’s Army. The cast features Tim Pigott-Smith, Nancy Carroll and Jo Stone-Fewings.

OPENING FRIDAY, 30 June 2006 (previews from 27 June), Michael Gambon reprises his silent role in Atom Egoyan’s world premiere stage adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s 1960s TV drama Eh Joe at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre (See News, 30 May 2006). The 30-minute piece - in which Gambon never speaks - runs for 30 performances only, twice nightly until 15 July 2006. A disembodied voice (Penelope Wilton) addresses a monologue to Joe, otherwise alone in a sealed room, reminding him of a tragic love affair. A camera, positioned in the wings, slowly moves across Gambon’s face, which is projected onto a screen on the stage.

- by Terri Paddock