The Exorcist, Nativity! and more in our top openings of the week
With Halloween on Tuesday and Christmas around the corner, it's an unusual blend of show openings this week
Hampstead Theatre until 25 November
Fenella Woolgar, star of Welcome Home Captain Fox and Handbagged makes her Hampstead Theatre debut in The Slaves of Solitude, based on the much-loved novel by Patrick Hamilton. Directed by Jonathan Kent, the show is set during 1940s wartime Britain and sees a woman at first frustrated by her menial surroundings, only to find a new lease of life with the arrival of an American lieutenant.
4. Suzy Storck
Gate Theatre until 18 November
French-Senegalese theatre director Jean-Pierre Baro, a founder of renowned French theatre company Extime, makes his UK theatre debut with this production of Suzy Storck, a new play from Magali Mougel adapted by Chris Campbell. Set on the eve of a great storm, the show sees a shackled wife frustrated by a life of domesticity. The play stars Caoilfhionn Dunne and Jonah Russell, continuing Ellen McDougall's inaugural season as artistic director at the west London venue.
Ustinov Studio until 18 November
Despite its festive title, this is a tense two-hander set in real-time in an unspecified prison cell. Christmas Eve is the work of internationally renowned German playwright and author Daniel Kehlmann, receiving its UK premiere with a new translation by Academy Award-winner Christopher Hampton. The show sees an unwitting philosopher questioned for her role in an anticipated terrorist attack. Niamh Cusack, whose huge list of credits including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Winter's Tale plays the philosopher, while The Office star Patrick Baladi is pitted against her as the no-nonsense inspector.
Birmingham Rep until 12 November before UK tour
Debbie Isitt's 2009 Nativity starring Martin Freeman is a much-loved festive film, and the newly written stage musical, also written by Isitt, aims to carry on the seasonal cheer. Starring Simon Lipkin and Daniel Boys, the show is embarking on a UK tour ahead of a spell at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. When the musical reaches London it will also have a special appearance from The X Factor judge Louis Walsh, making his stage debut.
1. The Exorcist
The Phoenix Theatre until 10 March 2018
It's the most horrible time of the year - the stage adaptation of the shocking 1973 film (it itself based on William Peter Blatty's novel) opens this week to coincide with Halloween. Originally staged at the Birmingham Rep last year, the show now moves to the West End for a five-month spell at the Phoenix Theatre. Long considered one of the scariest screen experiences of all time, the piece promises to maintain the shocks while also adding some star power - alongside Jenny Seagrove and Adam Garcia, listen out for a cameo by Ian McKellen as the voice of the demon.