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What to watch: best shows to see this week

Colin Morgan, Caroline O'Connor and Maxine Peake all feature in our hottest openings of the week

Clockwise from top left: Tartuffe, Translations and The Rink
© Clockwise from top left: Helen Maybanks, Catherine Ashmore, Darren Bell

This is a bumper week for new theatre openings – we don't even have space to touch on the West End transfer of Consent, the revival of DH Lawrence's The Daughter in Law, a new production of Winsome Pinnock's powerful Leave Taking or the London premiere of Fatherland at the Lyric Hammersmith! But here are five top openings that have really piqued our interests.

Jason Winter, Michael Lin and Ross Dawes
© Darren Bell

5. The Rink

Southwark Playhouse, until 23 June

Caroline O'Connor leads the cast of the rip-roaring-roller musical, which returns to London for the first time in almost 20 years. Directed by Adam Lenson, the piece is scored by powerhouse duo Kander and Ebb (Chicago and Cabaret) and sees the cast going so far as to tap dance...while on skates. The show has a special significance for O'Connor, who understudied a lead role when the show was last in the West End.

Have a first look at Caroline O'Connor and Gemma Sutton in The Rink

4. The Two Noble Kinsmen

Shakespeare's Globe, until 29 June

Original star of West End's Kinky Boots Matt Henry (now MBE!) hops across to the Globe and swaps sequins for Shakespeare in this new production of one of the Bard's lesser-known plays, co-written with John Fletcher. With grass being sprawled across the Globe stage and bunting draped across the stalls, this looks like a fine addition to Michelle Terry's opening season at the venue. The show also marks Barrie Rutter's first production since stepping down as artistic director of Northern Broadsides.

Read the casting for the Globe's latest show

Maxine Peake
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

3. Happy Days

Royal Exchange Theatre, until 23 June

Maxine Peake is a stage legend nowadays, but she's definitely up to her neck in the newest production of Happy Days, directed by Sarah Frankcom. Beckett's monologue is more than a challenge for any actor – it sees a single performer buried, with only their head poking out, reflecting on their life – essentially robbing them of most movement. After Peake's successes with A Streetcar Named Desire, The Skriker and Hamlet, it's going to be exciting to see how she tackles the unusual form.

Read the Royal Exchange's latest season announcement

The cast of Tartuffe
© Helen Maybanks

2. Tartuffe

Theatre Royal Haymarket, until 28 July

Molière's comedy caper is given a new lease of life in this production, with a fresh translation by Christopher Hampton that mixes French and English language. Running in the West End for a solid eight weeks, the show stars Paul Anderson, who is perhaps best known as rugged criminal Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders. The piece has also been transplanted to a modern day LA, so expect many Trump gags and boundless satire.

Read our interview with Tartuffe's Anderson

Colin Morgan in Translations
© Catherine Ashmore

1. Translations

National Theatre, until 11 August

Brian Friel's award-winning text is revived on the vast Olivier stage, with director Ian Rickson (The Birthday Party) at the helm. Set in rural Donegal, the piece features an all-star cast including Olivier Award-nominee Ciarán Hinds and everyone's favourite young wizard Colin Morgan, who rose to fame in BBC's Merlin. Translations has a hefty history since it first premiered in 1980 (when it starred Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea) so seeing it in a new light will be fascinating. It runs until August and looks set to be the centrepiece of the National's summer season.

See our first look gallery of Translations

Last chance to see: Building the Wall (Park Theatre), Chess (Coliseum), Not Talking (Arcola), Teddy (The Vaults), The Prudes (Royal Court).