London's Lyric Hammersmith theatre this week kicks off its new autumn/winter season, which includes the world premiere of an English-language work by the award-winning director Robert LePage, new twists on classic tales by Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen, as well as productions by renowned touring companies such as Pilot, Frantic Assembly and Kneehigh Theatre.

The season is launched this week with Kneehigh's a dark and disturbing retelling of Andersen's fairy tale The Red Shoes. Adapted and directed by Emma Rice, it was a hit at the 2001 Edinburgh, after which it embarked on a nationwide tour. It now continues its limited London season at the Lyric Hammersmith until 5 October 2002.

It's followed by LePage's production of La Casa Azul, a new play by Quebeçois playwright Sophie Faucher, who also stars, inspired by the life and art of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The world premiere of the play's English language version, translated by Lyric artistic director Neil Bartlett, will run from 11 to 26 October 2002. LePage's previous work in London includes The Far Side of the Moon, which won him this year's Critics Circle Best Director award as well as the Evening Standard award for Best New Play.

Frantic Assembly's Peepshow, a co-production with the Lyric and Plymouth's Theatre Royal, arrives from 6 to 23 November 2002. Written by Isabel Wright and directed by Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham, the piece draws inspiration from music videos in its telling of seven little lives in one large city. The London dates form part of the production's UK tour, which launches tomorrow, 20 September, at Plymouth, and continues to five further venues before concluding in Hammersmith.

Neil Bartlett's staging of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, starring Tim Piggot-Smith as Ebenezer Scrooge, will have a festive season from 29 November 2002 to 4 January 2003. And the new year will start with Pilot Theatre's updated production of Jim Cartwright's 1986 play Road, co-produced with the Lyric and York's Theatre Royal. The production opened earlier this month in York and continues on six-month national tour until March 2003, taking in 17 venues in total.

While the Lyric's main house is busy with the above, the Studio will be hosting new productions from Post Office Theatre (Courttia Newland's Mother's Day, 18-28 September), Peepolykus (Ionesco's Rhinoceros, 30 September-19 October), Theatre Centre (Benjamin Zephaniah's Listen to Your Parents, 29 October-9 November), ATC (Out of Your Heads, 12-30 November) and Upfront Comedy (Marcus Powell's Incompatibly Yours, 21-25 January 2003).

- by Terri Paddock