Amongst the major openings this week in London are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 20 November 2006 (previews from 14 November), Peter Hall’s new production of David Hare’s 1997 play Amy's View - starring Felicity Kendal (pictured) in the part of ageing actress Esme Allen, originated by Dame Judi Dench – transfers to the West End’s Garrick Theatre, following a regional tour (See News, 16 Aug 2006).

Esme, a West End veteran who makes a living through TV soap operas, is locked in a battle of ideology and emotional conflict with her daughter Amy. Spanning the years from Labour's fall from power in 1979 to post-Thatcherite England in 1995, Amy's View premiered in 1997 at the National - directed by Richard Eyre, Hall’s successor as NT artistic director, and starring Dench opposite Samantha Bond as Amy - and subsequently transferred to the West End and Broadway. Hall’s new production, the play’s first major London revival, incorporates revisions Hare made for the Broadway premiere and co-stars Jenna Russell, seen earlier this year in the West End in Sunday in the Park with George.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 22 November 2006 (rescheduled press night from 14 November, previews from 10 November), Stephen Dillane and American Ty Burrell star in the world premiere of Caryl Churchill’s new play Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, where it continues, as part of the Sloane Square landmark’s year-long 50th anniversary season (See News, 29 Sep 2006), until 22 December 2006.

Jack would do anything for Sam. Sam would do anything. Billed as a “searing exploration of transatlantic relations”, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? is directed by Royal Court associate director James Macdonald and designed by Eugene Lee. Churchill’s many previous plays premiered at the Royal Court include A Number, Far Away, Blue Heart, Serious Money, Top Girls and Cloud Nine.

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OPENING THURSDAY, 23 November 2006 (rescheduled press night from 9 November, previews from 16 November), Eugene Ionesco’s 1952 one-acter The Chairs is revived for a limited four-week run to 16 December with a cast led by Susan Brown and Nicholas Woodeson (See News, 5 Oct 2006). It’s the final production directed by Gate artistic director Thea Sharrock, who announced via on Friday that she would step down at the end of the Gate’s current season in order to pursue a freelance career (See News, 17 Nov 2006).

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 21 November) Irish playwright Frank McGuinness’ Gates of Gold opens at the West End’s Trafalgar Studio 1 (See News, 17 Nov 2006). Exploring a unique partnership between two men, an aging actor and an eminent director, the play is inspired by the true story of Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammoir, who founded Dublin’s Gate Theatre, where Gates of Gold was first seen. The play received its British premiere in November 2004 at London’s fringe Finborough Theatre. William Gaunt reprises his performance from that run, now alongside Paul Freeman, directed by Gavin McAlinden.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 21 November), Tim Rice’s reworked version of Blondel, the 1983 musical he co-wrote with the late Stephen Oliver, opens at north London’s Pleasance Theatre for a run to 31 December (See News, 5 Oct 2006). Together with his feisty girlfriend Fiona, the mediaeval minstrel Blondel embarks on a quest to find the missing King Richard before vile Prince John seizes the English crown. How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’s “Tomboy Maria” Abi Finley – who will also perform at the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards launch party on 1 December (See News, 10 Nov 2006) – plays Fiona opposite Chris Grierson (TV’s Hollyoaks) in the title role. Patrick Wilde directs.

OPENING FRIDAY, 25 November 2006, Theatre Royal Stratford East presents a new version of the classic Hans Christian Andersen story The Snow Queen for a Christmas engagement to 13 January 2007.

- by Terri Paddock