Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 7 November 2005 (previews from 25 October), Peter Hall’s revival of George Bernard Shaw’s 1899 comedy You Never Can Tell transfers to the West End’s Garrick Theatre after its initial run at Bath this summer and a regional tour (See News, 30 Sep 2005). Diana Quick is the enlightened Mrs Lanfrey Clandon who returns - with her three unconventional children - to England after 18 years of living abroad. Edward Fox is the all-seeing waiter at a seaside hotel where the family bumps into the staunchly traditional father they’d previously abandoned.

ALSO TONIGHT at north London’s Arcola Theatre tonight (previews from 2 November), Cleansed receives its first British production since its 1998 premiere (See News, 20 Oct 2005). In the late Sarah Kane’s play, Tinker inflicts horrific experiments on the inhabitants of an institution, keen to test the limits of their love for each other. Sean Holmes directs for Oxford Stage Company, the final production under the regime of outgoing artistic director Dominic Dromgoole before he succeeds Mark Rylance at Shakespeare’s Globe (See News, 20 May 2005).

OPENING TUESDAY, 8 November 2005 (previews from 20 October), chart-topping veteran Tommy Steele returns to the West End – and, more specifically, the London Palladium – to take the title role in Scrooge, Leslie Bricusse’s musical retelling of Charles Dickens' literary classic A Christmas Carol (See News, 6 Jun 2005). Directed by Bob Thomson, the production’s limited festive season continues until 14 January 2006.

ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews 7 November), Actors Touring Company brings its UK premiere production of Mark Schultz’s A Brief History of Helen of Troy to Soho Theatre for a run to 26 November 2005.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 9 November 2005 (revised previews from 1 November), at the National Theatre, Howard Brenton’s latest play Paul receives its belated world premiere at the NT Cottesloe (See News, 4 Aug 2005). Originally scheduled to open on 6 October 2005 (previews from 30 September), the production was halted when its star Paul Rhys withdrew during previews citing exhaustion. With no understudies in the 400-seat Cottesloe, all remaining October performances were cancelled while Rhys’ replacement Adam Godley - also appearing in the theatre’s other play, Mike Leigh’s Two Thousand Years - was rehearsed in.

Even prior to Rhys’ sudden departure, the production faced troubles. The play about the saint who renounced his former life, changed his name and devoted himself to preaching the gospel, attracted hundreds of complaints from some Christian groups (See The Goss, 14 Sep 2005). No stranger to controversy, Brenton is also the author of the 1980 play, The Romans in Britain. Paul, directed by Howard Davies, continues in rep until 4 February 2006.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, following its initial dates at Bristol Old Vic, David Farr’s adaptation (which he also directs) of Tamburlaine transfers to the Barbican Theatre for a run to 19 November as part of the Young Vic’s Young Genius season (See News, 17 Jun 2005). Christopher Marlowe was only 23 when he wrote the original epic in 1587. In the new production, Greg Hicks takes the title role as the highly ambitious man, waging war on Persia, Turkey and Egypt to achieve power.

OPENING THURSDAY, 10 November 2005 (previews from 4 November), Doug Wright’s Broadway hit I Am My Own Wife receives its UK premiere at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre where it’s booking for a limited 14-week season as part of an international tour (See News, 7 Oct 2005). Jefferson Mays reprises his Tony Award-winning performance of a resilient German transvestite, who survives the Nazis and communism, as well as more than 30 other characters including one based on the author. Wright’s play, first seen in spring 2003 at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons before transferring for a ten-month season on Broadway, became the first solo piece to win the Tony for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Moises Kaufman directs.

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ALSO ON THURSDAY, Clean Break brings its latest production Mercy Fine to Southwark Playhouse, opening tonight (previews from 8 Nov) for a run to 26 Nov. Researched in a women’s prison and with ex-offenders, Shelly Silas’ play revolves around a woman who is 24 hours away from release.

OPENING FRIDAY, 11 November 2005 (preview 10 November), innovative contemporary dance company DV8 brings its latest production Just for Show to the National’s Lyttelton Theatre for nine performances only to 19 November.

- by Terri Paddock