Amongst the major West End openings taking place this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 8 September 2003 (previews from 3 September), Shakespeare's R&J has a limited season until 18 October 2003 at the West End's Arts Theatre (See News, 23 May 2003).

A modern spin-off of Romeo and Juliet from the New York-based company The Splinter Group and adapted and directed by American Joe Calarco, the play ran for 18 months Off-Broadway, where it won a Lucille Lortel award. It received its UK premiere in March 2003 at the fifth annual Bath Shakespeare Festival at the Theatre Royal in Bath (See News, 3 Mar 2003).

In Shakespeare's R&J, four schoolboys at a rigidly strict Catholic boys' school stumble across a forbidden copy of Shakespeare's text and act it out in secret, discovering a world of beauty and excitement and stirring adolescent sexual passions in a repressed environment.

OPENING TUESDAY, 9 September 2003 (previews from 30 August), is the world premiere of Democracy, the latest play from Michael Frayn (Copenhagen, Benefactors, Noises Off), which continues in repertory at the NT Cottesloe until 30 December 2003 (See News, 30 May 2003). Directed by Michael Blakemore, the production stars Olivier Award winners Roger Allam and Conleth Hill (who also won a Award for Stones in His Pockets).

Democracy is set in West Germany in 1969 where Willy Brandt (Allam) begins his brief but remarkable career as the first left-of-centre Chancellor for nearly 40 years. Always present but rarely noticed is Gunter Guillaume (Hill), Brandt's devoted PA - and no less devoted in his other role, spying on Brandt for the Stasi.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 10 September 2003 (previews from 8 September), the legendary monks of China's Shaolin Temple return to the Peacock Theatre, Sadler's Wells in the West End, for a limited season to 4 October 2003. Wheel of Life, a pyrotechnic display of martial arts expertise, tells the story of how the monks' loyalty to a corrupt Emperor was betrayed, how they were almost destroyed, and how five young monks survived to continue the 'Wheel of Life'.

OPENING THURSDAY, 11 September 2003 (previews from 9 September), the Tricycle Theatre's acclaimed revival of Arthur Miller's 1968 classic The Price transfers to the West End's Apollo Theatre (See News, 30 Jun 2003). The original cast - Warren Mitchell, Larry Lamb, Des McAleer and Sian Thomas, who won this year's Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress, jointly for this and for Up for Grabs - reprise their roles under Sean Holmes' direction.

The Price - which finds 90-year-old furniture dealer getting more than he bargained with in the form of two long estranged brothers - was written in 1968 and revived on Broadway in 2000, although prior to the Tricycle run last year, London had not seen a major revival of the play in more than three decades. Considered one of America's foremost playwrights of the 20th century, Miller's many other plays include A View from the Bridge, The Crucible, All My Sons and Death of a Salesman, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.

- by Terri Paddock

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