Frozen, Brighton Rock and Napoleon Disrobed make our top openings of the week

Bryony Lavery opens two shows across the UK this week

Rehearsals for Doctor Faustus
Rehearsals for Doctor Faustus
© Bettina Adela

5. Doctor Faustus

The Bike Shed Theatre, until 24 February

The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter announced the sad news last month that, given a lack of funding, it will be forced to close at the end of March. With time running out the venue has a few shows still to host including Tangle Theatre's Dr Faustus, which transposes Marlowe's original piece (about a scholar selling his soul to Satan) to the present day. The African Caribbean theatre company also promises to interweave the production with music and song, so this sounds like a fresh take on a classic tale. The piece will tour the UK for the next few months.

Read the news about the Bike Shed Theatre closure

Ayesha Antoine in Napoleon Disrobed
Ayesha Antoine in Napoleon Disrobed
© Manuel Harlan

4. Napoleon Disrobed

Arcola Theatre, until 10 March

Told by an Idiot's latest show starts with a fun counterfactual question – what would happen if Napoleon had survived his exile and lived on? It's a fun little quandary that allows the creative force of Paul Hunter and Kathryn Hunter (no relation) to create a witty and postmodern piece. After opening in Plymouth earlier this month, the show now comes to east London's Arcola Theatre ahead of trips to Scarborough and Birmingham. Given Told by an Idiot's success with their previous shows including the five-star My Perfect Mind, this looks like it'll be a fun fringe treat.

See a week in the life of Napoleon Disrobed

Picnic at Hanging Rock
Picnic at Hanging Rock
© Pia Johnson

3. Picnic at Hanging Rock

Barbican Theatre, until 24 February

Joan Lindsay's 1967 cult novel Picnic at Hanging Rock is a strange tale – about the unexplained disappearance of three Australian schoolgirls and their teacher. Now it comes to the Barbican in a stage adaptation that made its UK premiere at the Lyceum in Edinburgh last year, after first being seen at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. The novel looks set to be in the public eye for a while, with Natalie Dormer leading a new TV adaptation which premieres in Australia in the summer.

See our review of the Edinburgh production of Picnic at Hanging Rock

Bryony Lavery in rehearsals for Brighton Rock
Bryony Lavery in rehearsals for Brighton Rock
© Ben Pugh

2. Brighton Rock

York Theatre Royal, until 3 March then UK tour

Bryony Lavery will be having a bumper year in 2018, with no less than four shows opening across the UK, with premieres in Northampton and Chichester and a West End revival (see below…). But before then she also has a brand new adaptation of Graham Greene's classic novel Brighton Rock opening at York Theatre Royal ahead of an extensive UK tour produced by Pilot Theatre. With a cast including Jacob James Beswick and Sarah Middleton, the show looks set to transport the gripping criminal world of Greene's Brighton to the stage.

Read our interview with playwright Bryony Lavery

Suranne Jones rehearsing for Frozen
Suranne Jones rehearsing for Frozen
© Johan Persson

1. Frozen

Theatre Royal Haymarket, until 5 May

Lavery's second show in our top openings, Frozen (not to be confused with a certain Disney musical) is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary after opening in 1998. It also went to Broadway in 2004 where it was nominated for a Tony Award for Best New Play. A chilling story about the inner recesses of the mind of a paedophile and the mother of one of his victims, the piece stars Doctor Foster lead Suranne Jones alongside Jason Watkins and Nina Sosanya.

See the cast of Frozen rehearsing for the show

Last chance to see: Yous Two (Hampstead Theatre), Booby's Bay (Finborough Theatre), Somewhere A Gunner Fires (King's Head Theatre)