Amongst the major shows opening in London during this shortened, bank holiday week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Tuesday 26 August 2008 (previews from 20 August), Romeo and Juliet is staged at London’s historic Middle Temple Hall as part of a year-long festival celebrating the 400th anniversary of the venue’s Royal Charter (See News, 8 Jan 2008). The Theatre of Memory production stars Juliet Rylance and Santiago Cabrera in the title roles, along with Ann Mitchell and Will Kemp. Tamara Harvey directs. The season continues until 13 September.


OPENING THURSDAY, 28 August 2008 (previews from 27 August), Peter Brook’s production of Fragments returns to the Young Vic, where it premiered at the Young Vic last September at the start of an international tour (See News, 3 Jun 2008). The collection of five lesser-known short plays by Samuel Beckett - Rockaby, Rough for Theatre I, Act Without Words II, Come and Go and Neither - is performed in English by Marcello Magni, Kathryn Hunter and new cast member Khalifa Natou. Fragments is co-produced by the Young Vic, where it runs until 13 September 2008, with Brook’s Paris-based company Theatre des Bouffes du Nord.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 26 August), former Blue boyband member Lee Ryan makes his stage acting debut in The Pretender Agenda, a new play which runs at the New Players Theatre for five weeks until 27 September 2008. Set in modern London, The Pretender Agenda revolves around six thirty-something colleagues whose lives change irreparably over the course of one scandalous evening. The piece is written and directed by Christopher Manoe. The cast also includes Lucy Benjamin, Vincenzo Pellegrino, Sue Devaney, Ben Jones, Emily Aston and Scott Hinds.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 26 August), following its run at the Theatre Royal Bath and a brief tour, Peter Hall’s production of The Portrait of a Lady transfers to the Rose Theatre, Kingston for a run to 6 September (See News, 2 Jul 2008). Henry James’ 1881 novel, about a young American heiress who sets out on a European voyage of self-discovery and marriage, is adapted by Nicki Frei and stars Catherine McCormack and Finbar Lynch. It’s followed by Hall’s Bath production of Ibsen’s 1879 classic A Doll\'s House, also starring McCormack and Lynch and running from 9 to 27 September 2008.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 21 August), west London’s Gate Theatre presents a 21st-century re-imagining of another Ibsen classic, 1890’s Hedda Gabler, for a run to 27 September (See News, 17 Jul 2008). Lucy Kirkwood’s adaptation, entitled simply Hedda, stars Cara Horgan in the title role, alongside Adrian Bower, Christopher Obi and Alice Patten. Gate joint artistic director Carrie Cracknell directs.

- by Terri Paddock