Amongst the major London openings - in the West End and further afield - this week are:

OPENING MONDAY, 6 July 2009, the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe First-winning hit Eight, a series of eight state-of-the-nation monologues offering a collective portrait of Britain’s youth, transfers to Trafalgar Studios 2 for a limited season to 25 July (See News, 31 Mar 2009).


OPENING TUESDAY, 7 July 2009, Here I\'ll Stay, the story of Kurt Weill’s journey from Nazi Germany to Broadway, opens on at the fringe Rosemary Branch theatre in Islington, north London for a run to 26 July. The show features 25 Weill songs including a number called “As Long as I Love”, from Weill’s only English musical, A Kingdom for a Cow, which had only one two-week production in this country in 1935. Peter Scott-Presland directs.

ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 30 June), A Lament for Medea, a new 40-minute piece directed and devised by Jorge Lopes Ramos and PJM and performed to just 20 people at a time, receives its UK premiere at the fringe Arcola Theatre, for a run to 25 July. Audience members must roll up their trousers and take a seat around a pool of water along with five female actors, who all remain seated throughout while reciting a poem on the myth of Medea. In stark contrast, this condensed performance follows the six-hour overnight performance of Hotel Medea from the same company at the Arcola this past January.


OPENING WEDNESDAY, 8 July 2009 (previews from 3 July), the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park takes a break from the usual Shakespeare programming with Irina Brown\'s revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, which continues in rep until 25 July (See News, 9 Jan 2009). Oscar Wilde’s 1895 comedy was seen last year at the West End’s Vaudeville, where Penelope Keith starred as Lady Bracknell. Susan Wooldridge takes on the famous role in this new production.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, Sky Arts is bringing live drama back to British television for the first time in more than 20 years with its new series Sky Arts Theatre Live!, which commences tonight with the live broadcast of the premiere of Jackie Kay’s debut play Mind Away, starring Raza Jaffrey, Siobhan Redmond and Sheila Reid (See News, 27 May 2009). The six-week season, the brainchild of series presenter Sandi Toksvig, continues each Wednesday until 12 August with five more premieres of specially commissioned plays from successful authors in other fields, including novelists Michael Dobbs and Nicci French. The programmes, filmed live in front of a studio audience, are aired Wednesdays from 9pm to 10pm on Sky Arts 1 HD and Sky Arts 1.

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ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, the four-week Summer Festival, formerly known as Almeida Opera, launches at the Almeida Theatre with Slung Low\'s promenade performance of Last Seen, in which the Bradford-based multimedia company takes the audience onto the surrounding streets to examine the world of the thousands of people who go missing in the UK every year (See News, 20 Apr 2009). The creative team is led by Slung Low artistic director Alan Lane, and the writers are Simon Burt, Lolita Chakrabarti and Matthew David Scott. Last Seen continues until 12 July. Other highlights in the Summer Festival, which concludes on 1 August, include Tiata Fahodzi\'s The Golden Hour, Tanya Ronder’s Or Nearest Offer and The American Capitalism Project from New York\'s The TEAM.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, following the success of earlier runs of The Gruffalo, the West End’s Duchess Theatre welcomes another children’s show from producers Kenny Wax and Nick Brooke, Sally Cookson’s adaptation of Michael Rosen’s popular picture book We\'re Going on a Bear Hunt, which runs during various daytime slots at the Duchess until 16 August before embarking on a regional tour (See News, 25 Feb 2009).


OPENING THURSDAY, 9 July 2009 (previews from 7 July), the King’s Head’s two recent hits with eyebrow-raising titles - F**king Men and Naked Boys Singing - transfer together to the West End’s Arts Theatre, with nightly performances of the former at 7.30pm and the latter at 9.30pm (See News, 19 Jun 2009). The shows can be booked separately or as a “double bill” combined ticket. Both are directed by Phil Willmott.

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