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Opening: Grasses, Donmar Doll's, Observer, Rain

Amongst the major London openings this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 18 May 2009 (previews from 12 May), the Royal Court's Wallace Shawn season continues in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs with the world premiere of Grasses of a Thousand Colours. The cast features the playwright himself, alongside Emily McDonnell, Miranda Richardson and Jennifer Tilly (See News, 6 Nov 2008), and the director is Shawn's long time collaborator My Dinner with Andre co-star, Andre Gregory. It has now extended until 27 June.

OPENING TUESDAY, 19 May 2009 (previews from 14 May), the Donmar Warehouse presents its stellar production of Ibsen's A Doll's House, with a cast featuring Gillian Anderson, Toby Stephens, Tara Fitzgerald, Christopher Eccleston, Maggie Wells and Anton Lesser (See News, 27 Mar 2009).

In this new version of Ibsen's 1879 classic, written by Further Than the Furthest Thing’s Zinnie Harris, the action takes place against the backdrop of British politics at the turn of the last century, in a world where duty, power and hypocrisy rule. The production is directed by Kfir Yefet, who won the BAFTA for Best Short Film for It’s Not Unusual.

ALSO ON TUESDAY, acclaimed Irish company Druid bring their new production of John Millington Synge's The Playboy of the West World, a classic satire of life in the west of Ireland in the early part of the 20th century, to the Richmond Theatre. The tour, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Synge's death, subsequently visits Salford, Liverpool, Cardiff and Druid's hometown Galway.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 20 May 2009 (previews from 14 May), Matt Charman's new play The Observer premieres at the NT Cottesloe. Directed by former NT artistic director Richard Eyre, it centres on an international group of observers who arrive in a West African country to oversee and rubber stamp its first democratic election. The cast includes Anna Chancellor, James Fleet and Cyril Nri. It runs in rep until 8 July 2009.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, following an international tour, (preview 19 May) Moe Bertran stars in David Pumo's one-man play Love Scenes at Victoria's new Above the Stage venue, playing six characters including a twenty-year-old hustler, a Broadway producer and a drag diva ending her search for a rich husband to settle for true love. Until 7 June.

OPENING THURSDAY, 21 May 2009 (previews from 14 May), the Almeida presents the European premiere of Andrew Bovell's epic When the Rain Stops Falling. The action  moves from the claustrophobia of a 1950s London flat to the coast of Southern Australia and into the heart of the Australian desert, weaving together a series of interconnected stories as seven people confront their mysteries of the past in order to understand their future. Directed by Almeida artistic director Michael Attenborough, it runs until 4 July.

OPENING FRIDAY, 22 May 2009 (previews from 20 May), Issy Van Randwyck stars in Alan Balfour's The Hokey Cokey Man at Hampstead's New End theatre, unfolding the story behind the popular song, which was written by Balfour's grandfather Al Tabor in 1940 to lift people's spirits during the Blitz. Until 21 June.

- by Theo Bosanquet


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