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What to watch: best theatre to see this week

We round up our hottest openings this week

Nightfall, Life and Fate and Describe the Night
© Clockwise from left: Manuel Harlan, Maly Theatre and Marc Brenner

It may be the bank holiday, but the theatre world carries on! We pick our favourite openings, with world premieres in Manchester, London and revivals in Chichester and the West End. Interestingly, three of our shows opening this week are also Russia-related. We round up our top openings for the coming week.

Life and Fate
© Maly Drama Theatre

5. Life and Fate

Theatre Royal Haymarket, until 20 May

Famed Russian theatre company Maly Drama come to the UK with two productions – Life and Fate and Uncle Vanya – which run in tandem in the West End. While the company's production of Vanya promises to be a top-notch version of a classic, it is Life and Fate that proves most intriguing – the production is based on Vasily Grossman's wartime novel, which covers the likes of the Gulags, Nazi concentration camps and the Battle of Stalingrad. The show had to be smuggled out of the USSR for fear of being completely destroyed when first written. Something fascinating for West End audiences.

Find out more about the Maly Drama season in the West End

RashDash's Three Sisters

4. Three Sisters

Royal Exchange Machester, until 19 May, then UK tour

Keeping things Russian – up in Manchester Chekhov's Three Sisters is given a modern revamping with this new production from Fringe First winners and all-round cool company RashDash. Asking why they have to conform to the rules of a period drama, the company have thrown everything out the window and created a bold new piece for the present day. After running at the Royal Exchange, the show will be headed to The Yard in east London and to the Tobacco Factories in Bristol.

Read our review of RashDash's 2017 piece Snow White and Rose Red

Laurietta Essien, Kudzai Sitima & Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo in rehearsal for Generations
© Manuel Harlan

3. Random/Generations

Minerva Theatre Chichester, until 2 June

Debbie Tucker Green gets a double bill in Chichester this month, as the venue brings two of the writer's short dramas to their Minerva stage. Directed by Genesis Future Director Award-winner Tinuke Craig (who previously directed Green's Dirty Butterfly at the Young Vic), Generations also includes the South African Cultural Choir, in what is sure to be a grand production and an excellent addition to the CHichester Festival Theatre's season.

See the full season announcement here.

David Birrell (Nikolai) and Ben Caplan (Isaac Babel)
© Marc Brenner

2. Describe the Night

Hampstead Theatre, until 9 June

The Russia theme returns with another instalment on our top five, as Theatre503's artistic director Lisa Spirling helms the UK premiere of Rajiv Joseph's Describe the Night, a comic fantasia exploring Soviet history. Set across 90 years of Soviet history, the show stars West End regular Ben Caplan alongside David Birrell, who recently stared in Southampton's new theatre NST City's inaugural production, The Shadow Factory. We're all out of Russia-related plays now, promise.

See the casting for Describe the Night

Sion Daniel Young and Ukweli Roach in rehearsals for Nightfall at The Bridge.
© Manuel Harlan

1. Nightfall

Bridge Theatre, until 26 May

Now that the rubble-strewn Trump-tacular Julius Caesar has closed at the Bridge, playwright Barney Norris comes to the venue to present the world premiere of new play Nightfall. Following a family of four coping with the grief of a family loss, the show touts a stellar cast of Claire Skinner, Ophelia Lovibond Ukweli Roach and Sion Daniel Young. Directed by Laurie Sansom and billed as a thriller, it will be interesting to see how Nicholas Hytner's inaugural year at the Bridge Theatre continues to play out.

Read our interview with Barney Norris

Last chance to see: All or Nothing (Ambassadors Theatre), Harold and Maude (Charing Cross Theatre), Rasheeda Speaking (Trafalgar Studios), The Best Man (Playhouse Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Rose Theatre Kingston)