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14 productions you must see this month

We take a look at some of the theatrical events you shouldn't miss out on in January

1. The big opening: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at the Playhouse

Based on Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's Oscar-nominated 1988 film of the same name, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown revolves around a professional movie dubber who discovers unsavoury secrets about her married lover after he abruptly abandons her. Starring Tamsin Greig, Haydn Gwynne, Willemijn Verkaik and Anna Skellern.

Check ticket availability here.

2. Get up close: Bull at the Young Vic

Adam James
(© Simon Annand)

Three colleagues battle over just two jobs in Mike Bartlett's sharp shock of a play, Bull.

The detailed drama plays out in a workplace-come-bullfighting ring designed by Soutra Gilmour. Audiences surround the stage on all sides and can observe the fight from close quarters by choosing standing tickets. Starring Adam James, Eleanor Matsuura, Sam Troughton and Neil Stuke.

Check ticket availability here.

3. Transfer of the month: My Night With Reg at the Apollo Theatre

Geoffrey Streatfeild and Julian Ovenden in My Night With Reg
© Johan Persson

Directed by Robert Hastie, My Night with Reg sold out at the Donmar during its eight week run last year.

Kevin Elyot's Olivier and Evening Standard Award-winning comedy is set in London's gay community in the summer of 1985 against the backdrop of the mounting AIDS crisis and on its premiere defined a moment in the lives of gay men.

Check ticket availability here.

4. Must see performance: Penelope Wilton in Taken at Midnight at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Penelope Wilton in Taken at Midnight
© Alastair Muir

Taken at Midnight is a new play centring on the true story of a German lawyer who dared to put Hitler on the witness stand in the 1930s, and transfers to the West End following its premiere run in Chichester.

Directed by Jonathan Church, the play is written by Mark Hayhurst and features Penelope Wilton as the lawyer's mother.

Check ticket availability here.

5. See a Hollywood A-lister: James McAvoy in The Ruling Class at Trafalgar Studios

James McAvoy
© Marc Brenner

James McAvoy, who played Macbeth for Jamie Lloyd as part of the director's inaugural tenancy at the Trafalgar Studios in 2013, returns to play the fictional 14th Earl of Gurney, a nobleman who inherits his father's estate and thinks he's Jesus, in Peter Barnes' The Ruling Class.

McAvoy is joined by Ron Cook as Sir Charles Gurney, Kathryn Drysdale as Grace Shelley, Joshua McGuire as Dinsdale Gurney and Anthony O'Donnell as Daniel Tucker.

The production marks the first revival of Barnes' satirical comedy since its first run in the 1960s, when it won the Evening Standard's best drama award.

Check ticket availability here.

6. See a brand new Tom Stoppard play: The Hard Problem at the Dorfman, National Theatre

Tom Stoppard

The Hard Problem is Tom Stoppard's first play for the stage since Rock 'n' Roll in 2006, and his first for the National since his trilogy, The Coast of Utopia in 2002. The play is the last to be directed by the National's outgoing artistic director, Nicholas Hytner.

Olivia Vinall, whose NT credits include King Lear and Othello, plays Hilary, a young psychology researcher at odds with her colleagues at a brainscience institute, alongside a cast that includes Vera Chok, Jonathan Coy, Damien Molony, Lucy Robinson and Parth Thakerar.

You'll have to move heaven and earth to get a ticket for this production, we're told availability is now limited to returns, but if you manage to get one we are sure it will be worth it.

7. Second chance to see: Di and Viv and Rose at the Vaudeville Theatre

Tamzin Outhwaite, Samantha Spiro and Jenna Russell
© Johan Persson

Hampstead Theatre's critically acclaimed production, Di and Viv and Rose, transfers to the Vaudeville Theatre at the end of the month with Anna Mackmin returning to direct Amelia Bullmore's exploration of friendship's impact on life and living.

Tamzin Outhwaite reprises her role as Di and will be joined by Samantha Spiro as Viv and Jenna Russell as Rose.

Aged eighteen, three women join forces at university. Life is fun. Life is intense. Together they feel unbeatable. As Di and Viv and Rose grow up, chance and choice put their closeness to the test. They must thrash out how to work, how to love, how to live.

Check ticket availability here.

8. Check out a cut-price cult comedian: Daniel Kitson's Tree at the Old Vic

Daniel Kitson

First performed at Manchester's Royal Exchange, Tree stars Kitson alongside comedian Tim Key in the 'play for two people' about "dissent, commitment, two people and a tree", it is staged in the round, and features illustrations from Lizzy Stewart. What's more, top price tickets are just £16.

Check ticket availability here.

9. See the European premiere of a Jerry Herman musical: The Grand Tour at the Finborough Theatre

Jerry Herman's 1979 Broadway musical, produced by Danielle Tarento and directed by Thom Southerland, opens at the Finborough Theatre.

The Grand Tour takes place in France, 1940. Jacobowsky (Alastair Brookshaw), a Polish Jewish intellectual, has been one step ahead of the Nazis for years. Stjerbinsky (Nic Kyle), an aristocrat, anti semitic Polish colonel is desperately trying to get to England. Jacobowsky has purchased a car he doesn't know how to drive. The Colonel knows how to drive, but has no car. When the two meet at a Paris hotel, they agree to join forces in order to escape the approaching Nazis. Together with the Colonel's girlfriend, Marianne (Zoë Doano), they begin their perilous journey on the road to freedom.

Check ticket availability here.

10. See something completely different: Bat Boy at the Southwark Playhouse

Rob Compton leads the cast of Bat Boy - The Musical, directed by Luke Fredericks with choreography by Joey McKneely, musical direction by Mark Crossland and set and costume design by Stewart Charlesworth.

Bat Boy premiered in 1997 and, inspired by a spoof article in tabloid The Weekly World News, it tells the story of a "strange bat-child" who is taken under a family's wing and taught the way of the world.

Check ticket availability here.

11. Sample a festival in the North: Re:play Festival at Number One, First Street, Manchester

Re:play is a celebration of some of the most ground-breaking, most talked-about new drama from the Manchester fringe scene from the last 12 months.

Featured productions include international theatre collaboration War Stories, Laura Wade's Colder Than Here and family show The Tongue Twister.

More information can be found here.

12. In Stratford: The RSC's Oppenheimer at the Swan Theatre

Oppenheimer, a new play by Tom Morton-Smith, about ‘the father of the atom bomb', J Robert Oppenheimer, runs in rep at the Swan Theatre with Thomas Dekker's festive comedy The Shoemaker's Holiday.

Check ticket availability here.

13. Mark an anniversary in Bristol: Walking the Chains at the Passenger Shed in Bristol

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Bristol's best loved landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Walking the Chains will be performed in another Brunel masterpiece The Passenger Shed. Watch the history of the bridge come alive as an ensemble of actor musicians, circus performers, live band and choir reveal secrets of the iconic and world famous landmark.

More information can be found here.

14. Last chance to see: King Charles III at Wyndham's Theatre

© Alastair Muir

As his Bull opens at the Young Vic, Mike Bartlett's controversial new play, King Charles III ends its run at Wyndham's.

Directed by Rupert Goold and starring Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III explores the people beneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of our democracy, and the conscience of Britain's most famous family.

Check ticket availability here.