Top 5 theatre openings this week: 8 – 14 May

A play about politics in Iraq, a best-selling book adapted for the stage and a Yaël Farber epic all open this week

Henry Lloyd-Hughes in Occupational Hazards
Henry Lloyd-Hughes in Occupational Hazards
© Marc Brenner

5. Occupational Hazards

Hampstead Theatre, until 3 June

Stephen Brown's new play is based on the memoirs of Rory Stewart, a politician who was tasked with building a peaceful society in two provinces of Iraq. Henry Lloyd-Hughes (The Inbetweeners) plays Stewart, who is the incumbent Minister of State for International Development, and the piece is directed by Simon Godwin, the man behind Twelfth Night and Man and Superman at the National. With the general election on the way, this play will give an insight into what our politicians actually get up to.

Click here for our list of the best plays to watch before the general election

Harrison Wilding and Witney White in Room
Harrison Wilding and Witney White in Room
© Scott Rylander

4. Room

Theatre Royal Stratford East, until 3 June

Emma Donoghue adapted her best-selling novel into an Oscar-winning picture starring Brie Larson in 2015, and now she's made her story about a woman who is kidnapped and locked in a room for seven years into a play. Witney White plays the kidnapped teenager Ma who is caring for her five-year old son Jack, who has never seen the outside of the room. The play, with score from Scottish songwriter Kathryn Joseph and Cora Bissett, sees Ma and Jack try to escape the room and deal with life in the outside world. It's an award-winning book and an award-winning film, so we're hoping for similar results with the stage play.

Click here to see our exclusive photo gallery from the show

Sharon D Clarke
Sharon D Clarke
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

3. Caroline, Or Change

Chichester Festival Theatre, until 3 June

Tony Kushner's star-studded epic Angels in America just opened a the National to a flurry of five-star reviews. Now, his musical about an African American maid in '60s Louisiana opens in Chichester. It features Sharon D Clarke in the title role, and is directed by Michael Longhurst. The Broadway production won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2007 when it transferred, but this is the first new UK production, which makes it all the more exciting.

Watch our video with Sharon D Clarke and the cast of The Life

Richard III
Richard III
© Nobby Clark

2. Richard III

Hull Truck Theatre, until 27 May

2017 marks 20 years of Northern Broadsides, and to celebrate they're going back to their roots. With Hull Truck, they're producing Richard III which was the first play they staged in the Marina Boatshed in Hull. This time around, they have Mat Fraser (American Horror Story) in the title role. In an interview with WhatsOnStage, Fraser said his evil king will be "the classic villain, with classic lines". So we're very excited to see what he does with the role.

Click here to read our interview with Mat Fraser on Richard III

Rehearsals for Salomé
Rehearsals for Salomé
© Johan Persson

1. Salomé

National Theatre, until 15 July

Yaël Farber is re-writing the story of Salomé. The director says she wants to 're-position us' in relation to a well-told biblical story. The title character appears in the New Testament and demands the head of John the Baptist. Farber staged the story in Washington, and has brought four of the performers from the 2015 production over, but she has assured audiences it will not be the same production. It promises to be quite the epic.

Click here to read our interview with Yaël Farber