Amongst the major London openings taking place this week are:

OPENING TUESDAY, 9 December 2003 (previews from 3 December), Moira Buffini's black comedy Dinner transfers, after a hiatus, to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre, where it's booking up to 27 March 2004 (See News, 31 Oct 2003). Primordial soup is first on the menu at a bizarre dinner party hosted by Paige.

Harriet Walter (playing Paige), Nicholas Farrell and Penny Downie remain from the cast of the original National production, seen last November in the temporary Lyttelton Loft. They're joined by newcomers Paul Kaye (of Dennis Pennis fame), Flora Montgomery, Adrian Lukis and Paul Sirr, directed by the author's sister Fiona Buffini.

OPENING THURSDAY, 11 December 2003 (preview 10 December), touring company Theatre Alibi brings its children's adventure story, Why the Whales Came, to the West End's Comedy Theatre for a limited Christmas season to 7 January (See News, 24 Oct 2003). Based on the book by Michael Morpurgo and co-produced with Theatre Royal Plymouth, where it was first seen two years ago, Why the Whales Came takes place in the Scilly Isles during the First World War, when young Gracie and her friend Daniel discover that the Birdman isn't mad or dangerous like everyone says. Greg Banks and Theatre Alibi artistic director Nikki Sved have adapted and co-directed the piece.

OPENING FRIDAY, 12 December 2003 (previews from 4 December), Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses is revived at the West End's Playhouse Theatre, where it's booking until 27 March 2004 (See News, 31 Oct 2003).

Based on Choderlos de Laclos' 1782 novel about the sexually fuelled power struggles of the French aristocracy, Hampton's play premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985 in a production, starring Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan, that transferred to Broadway and won numerous awards including the Olivier for Best New Play.

In 1988, the piece was famously made into the Oscar-winning Hollywood film Dangerous Liaisons, with John Malkovich and Glenn Close (pictured) in the leads and Michelle Pfeiffer playing Valmont's virtuous conquest Madame de Tourvel. In the new production, directed by Tim Fywell, Jared Harris, Polly Walker and Emilia Fox take on the leads.

DON'T MISS our offer to see Les Liaisons Dangereuses for just £25 including a FREE glass of wine - valid 15 December 2003 only - click here for info!

- by Terri Paddock