What to watch: best shows to see this week

We round-up the biggest openings around the country

© Simon Annand/Manuel Harlan/Johan Persson

When rounding up this week's top openings we had to check it's not Christmas as there's not one, not two, but three kings featured with Ian McKellen reprising his Lear in the West End, Rhys Ifans playing a 400 year-old royal at the National and X Factor winner Matt Terry taking on everyone's favourite movie lion since Simba.


© HOME, Manchester

5. The Fishermen

HOME, Manchester, until 28 July

Chigozie Obioma's Man Booker-shortlisted novel comes to the stage in a new adaptation by Gbolahan Obisesan. Directed by Jack McNamara, the piece will run at Assembly during the Edinburgh Fringe, but first comes to Manchester for a week. It follows four brothers in Nigeria, whose lives are changed by a run-in with a mad man.

Read our round-up of shows to see before they hit the Fringe.

Ian McKellen in King Lear
Ian McKellen in King Lear
© Manuel Harlan

4. King Lear

Duke of York's, until 3 November

Considering the initial run of this production played Chichester's tiny Minerva Theatre, chances are you missed this the first time round. So now's your chance to see stage stalwart Ian McKellen in one of Shakespeare's most challenging roles.

Read our full cast announcement.

3. Madagascar

New Wimbledon Theatre, until 28 July then tours

X Factor winner Matt Terry swaps the studio for the zoo to make his stage debut as Alex the lion in this new adaptation of Dreamworks' hit family movie. We popped into rehearsals recently and the puppets alone make this a must-see for audiences young and old.

Read our UK tour announcement article.

© Johan Persson

2. Spamilton

Menier Chocolate Factory, until 8 September

This parody of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton should be top of the list for any fan of the Pulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop musical. From Gerard Alessandrini – the creator of Forbidden Broadway – the cast features Liam Tamne, Sophie Louise Dann and Damian Humbley.

Check out our exclusive first look gallery.

Rhys Ifans in Exit the King
Rhys Ifans in Exit the King
© Simon Annand

1. Exit the King

National Theatre, until 6 October

Rhys Ifans and Indira Varma star in Patrick Marber's new adaptation of Ionesco's 1962 absurdist drama. Varma plays Queen Marguerite, who is preparing for the last day of the 400 year-old King Bérenger's (Ifans) life.

Find out what other screen stars you can see on stage this summer.