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10 non-festive shows to see this December

There's more than just lashings of Christmas spirit on offer next month

Fair Play
© Bush Theatre

There are plenty of gripping productions being staged across the country during this festive period... that have nothing to do with the festive period! Here are our picks.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The National Theatre's smash hit production of Neil Gaiman's epic fantasy The Ocean at the End of the Lane, adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, has recently transferred to the West End and (once again) opened to rave reviews. This imaginative tale of adventure and survival is sure to have both young and young-at-heart theatregoers at the edge of their seats. Currently booking through to 14 May 2022 at the Duke of York's Theatre.


The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart
© Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

In Manchester, award-winning playwright David Greig offers up a fiendish musical play that mixes Scottish folks songs and riotous karaoke. The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, directed by Debbie Hannan, follows the titular character, a PhD graduate, who is poised to share her theories on Hell in folk literature at a small-town conference. But is she ready for a generous helping of self-discovery aided by copious vodka shots and the belting out of some Kylie Minogue classics? Royal Exchange Theatre, from 4 December to 15 January.


Best of Enemies

David Haywood and Charles Edwards
© The Young Vic

With a starry cast that includes David Harewood and Charles Edwards, James Graham's (Quiz) new drama explores the very public dispute of political and moral ideals between the liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F Buckley Jr., all played out over a new television format in 1968. In the process, they revolutionise the relationship between American politics and television news forever. Young Vic Theatre, from 3 December to 22 January.


The Play What I Wrote

The Play What I Wrote
© Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The brand new touring production of The Play What I Wrote is settling down in Birmingham for the festive period. Co-written by director Sean Foley, Hamish McColl, and Eddie Braben, the comic tale of a struggling comedy double act and an epic play entitled A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple is sure to bring the laughter to the Midlands this Christmas. And with a mystery guest performer appearing at every show, what more could you want? Birmingham Repertory Theatre, from 27 November to 1 January.


The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage

The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage
© Bridge Theatre

Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy has taken the world by storm and even took the theatre world by storm 18 years ago with the National Theatre's innovative stage adaptation under the direction of Nicholas Hytner. So it comes as no surprise that Hytner's return to the fantastical parallel universe is hotly anticipated. The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage is a prequel set twelve years before the events of His Dark Materials and is spellbindingly adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery. Bridge Theatre, from 30 November to 26 February.


A Chorus Line

The cast of A Chorus Line at Leicester Curve
© Ellie Kurtz

If you're in the Leicester and surrounding areas this festive season and you're just looking for one singular sensation of a show, then a trip to see the Curve's brand new production of A Chorus Line should definitely be on the cards. Boasting immortal musical numbers such as '"What I Did For Love" and "One", alongside the stirring testimonies of the chorus line members, there are a multitude of reasons why this 1975 Broadway musical will forever stand the test of time. Curve Theatre, from 3 to 31 December.


Habeas Corpus

The Habeas Corpus cast
© Menier Chocolate Factory

If Habeas Corpus' subtitle of "a filthy farce from a less enlightened age" doesn't intrigue you, then we're not sure what will. Patrick Marber directs Alan Bennett's darkly satirical comedy, brimming with mistaken identities, sexual pleasures, carnal encounters and, well, let's throw in unbridled passion to boot. Menier Chocolate Factory, from 3 December to 26 February.


Mrs Delgado

Mrs Delgado
© Old Fire Station, Oxford

This time last year we were all in and out of lockdowns in what can only be described as an unprecedented period for us all. One good thing to come of it, however, is Mike Bartlett's new play Mrs Delgado which explores the relationship (and the tension) between two neighbours. Helen is dutifully abiding by the lockdown rules. Mrs Delgado, unfortunately, has other intentions. This humorous and poignant new piece is bound to get all the neighbours talking. Oxford's Old Fire Station, from 6 to 21 December.


Fair Play

Fair Play
© Bush Theatre

The general public may not have been allowed to attend the Olympics in Tokyo this year, but, closer to home, Ella Road's riveting new drama Fair Play explores the underside of women's athletics. While club mates Ann and Sophie dream of Olympic medals, the harsh realities of fierce competition and public scrutiny put their friendship to the ultimate test. Bush Theatre, from 3 December to 22 January.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Joshua Jenkins in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
© Brinkhoff/Mogenburg

Our final pick of "non-festive" shows for this festive season is the National Theatre's smash hit production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon's best-selling novel, the play follows Christopher Boone, a teenager on the autistic spectrum, who takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of the death of a neighbour's dog. This multi-award winning spectacle is as mesmerizing as it is emotive. Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, from 20 November to 9 January.

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