Several notable productions open on the London fringe in the coming weeks. Amongst them...

Opening tomorrow 3 September 2003 (previews from tonight) at the Old Red Lion in Islington is the London premiere of Postcards from Maupassant, which continues to 27 September. The show dramatises seven vignettes about the power struggle between men and women, based on the short stories of the 19th-century French writer Guy de Maupassant. The piece is adapted by Caroline Harding, who also performs, and is directed by Dan Milne. A Two Friends production, it comes to London via the 2002 Edinburgh festival and a UK tour.


Another play, John Keates' Hello You also receives its London premiere this week, opening on 3 September 2003 (previews from 1 September) at Hammersmith's Riverside Studios where it continues to 27 September. Staged as a film draft - in a combination of fragmented narratives, split and digital images and multi-layered sound - it's inspired by Robert Altman's Short Cuts and Michael Haneke's Code Unknown and presented by fecund theatre.


Opening on 4 September 2003 (also previewing from tonight) at Union Theatre in Borough, south London, is double bill of plays by Darren Murphy. In Tabloid Caligula, which receives its world premiere, Robert is ageing businessman who's part historian and part psychopath. A Road in Winter, which won Soho's Westminster Prize in 2002, revolves around tow prisoners who play a word association game between rounds of brutal interrogation. The Penny Dreadful pairing continues to 20 September 2003.


Next week, Guy Retallack's revival of John Hopkins' 1968 play This Story of Yours opens at the New End Theatre for a five-week season from 11 September 2003 (preview 10 September). The piece, which dissects the mind and soul of a policeman accused of killing a criminal, was the basis for Sidney Lumet's 1973 film The Offence, which starred Sean Connery and Trevor Howard. The New End production will feature Anthony Cord, Christopher Gilling, Paul Hamilton and Gillian Wright.


Opening 11 September 2003 (previews from 9 September) at Earl's Court's Finborough Theatre is Dark Meaning Mouse which is written by actor Tony Haygarth, currently appearing at the National in His Girl Friday and, with Kenneth Branagh, Edmond. The carefully researched play investigates the mysteries of Shakespeare's Sonnets, first published in 1609. The production, directed by Adam Megiddo, continues to 4 October 2003.


At Croydon's Warehouse Theatre, TheatreMetropolis presents the world premiere of Canadian Kim Morrissey's Mrs Ruskin, which runs from 14 September to 5 October 2003 (previews 12 September). Set in 1853, the play delves into the life and loves of the Pre-Raphaelite painter of John Everett Millais. It's directed by Jacqui Somerville.


Another painter, 20th-century abstract artist Mark Rothko, provides the inspiration for Andrew Bridgemont's Red on Black, which was one of four winning plays from the 2000 International Playwriting Festival at Croydon Warehouse. The new production, directed by Katie Read and produced by Sally Vaughan, marks the centenary of Rothko's birth on 25 September and runs at Islington's Hen and Chickens Theatre from 19 September to 4 October (previews from 16 September). In Rothko's New York studio, the arrival of Joe, a young journalist, marks the beginning of a subtle psychological dance. Peter Wight and William Oxborrow star.

- by Terri Paddock