Amongst the major openings in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 6 November 2006 (previews from 1 November), at the Duchess Theatre, Marie Jones’ multi award-winning two-hander Stones in His Pockets makes its West End comeback less than two-and-a-half years after completing an oft-extended four-year run (See News, 5 Sep 2006). Hugh Lee and Simon Delaney – who have done the piece previously in the West End and on tour in Ireland – play down-and-outs Jake Quinn and Charlie Conlin as well as a host of other colourful characters in the story about what happens when a Hollywood film crew moves in on a small Irish village. UPDATED, 6 Nov 2006 @ 2.15pm: Tonight’s press performance of Stones in His Pockets has been cancelled due to the indisposition of one of the actors (See Today’s Other News).

The bittersweet two-hander started life at Belfast's Lyric Theatre in April 1999 before steamrolling on to success in Dublin and Edinburgh. It was first seen in London at the Tricycle Theatre before transferring to the New Ambassadors Theatre in May 2000 and then on to the Duke of York's in August 2000. In July 2003, it moved back to the New Ambassadors where, after more extensions, it finally finished on 15 May 2004. The original cast was Conleth Hill and Sean Campion.


OPENING TUESDAY, 7 November 2006, Not About Heroes, Stephen MacDonald’s play about the friendship between First World War poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, opens at the West End’s 100-seat Trafalgar Studio 2 for a limited season to 18 November 2006.

ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 2 November), Meredith Oakes’ new play Scenes from the Back of Beyond premieres at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. Bill is sustained by his deep sense of an improving world; when he meets someone who embodies this idea, he naturally likes them, even if his wife doesn’t.

ALSO ON TUESDAY Schaubuhne an Lehniner Platz brings its German-language production of the late Sarah Kane’s seminal play Blasted to the Barbican Theatre for five performances only to 11 November 2006. It’s performed in German with English surtitles.


OPENING WEDNESDAY, 8 November 2006 (preview 7 November), Shared Experience’s Orestes, freely adapted by Helen Edmundson from Euripides’ ancient Greek tragedy, arrives at north London’s Tricycle Theatre for a run to 2 December 2006. As children, Orestes and his sister Electra were banished by their own mother. Years later, the city must vote to determine their fate as they stand trial for her murder.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (preview 7 November), Oren Safdie’s Private Jokes, Public Places receives its European premiere at north London’s New End Theatre in a limited season to 10 December 2006.


OPENING THURSDAY, 9 November 2006 (previews from 25 October), Trevor Nunn premieres his two-and-a-half hour musical version of the Gershwins’ classic jazz opera Porgy and Bess at the West End’s Savoy Theatre (See News, 30 Jun 2006). Originally a novel by DuBose Heyward, Porgy and Bess is set in 1912 South Carolina, around Charleston's Catfish Row, and centres on cripple Porgy who offers shelter to Bess, recently broken free from her brutish lover.

Heyward collaborated with George and Ira Gershwin to create the jazz opera – featuring now-classic songs such as "Summertime", "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" and "It Ain't Necessarily So" – which premiered in 1935 and was made into a 1959 screen version starred Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. In 1986, Trevor Nunn previously directed the opera at Glyndebourne with Willard White and Cynthia Haymon.

Clarke Peters and Nicola Hughes take the title roles in a 40-strong cast that also features Cornell John (as Crown), Dawn Hope (Serena) and OT Fagbenle (Sportin’ Life). The new musical has a score specially adapted by Gareth Valentine. The £3 million production is directed by Nunn and designed by John Gunter. It’s presented by Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Howard Panter for Ambassador Theatre Group and Tulbart Productions.

** DON’T MISS the chance to see PORGY & BESS & save £10 on the top three ticket prices – offer valid until 24 November but MUST BE BOOKED BY 12 November - click here for more details! **

ALSO ON THURSDAY (preview 8 November) artistic director Thea Sharrock directs a new production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs at west London’s Gate Theatre for a limited season to 9 December 2006.


OPENING FRIDAY, 10 November 2006 (previews from 8 November), Terry Johnson directs Helen Schlesinger, Richard Wilson and Robert Bathurst in Steve Thompson’s new Parliament-set comedy Whipping It Up, which continues at west London’s Bush Theatre until 16 December 2006.

- by Terri Paddock