From a new adaptation of Booker-winner Life of Pi to the swansong of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag, our theatre critic picks 10 must-sees for July and August
Michael Frayn’s inspired meta-farce about escalating chaos, on stage and off, returns to Hammersmith after it established itself there in 1982 as one of the funniest plays in the modern theatre. Jeremy Herrin directs; the cast includes Meera Syal, Lloyd Owen and Daniel Rigby.
Lyric Hammersmith, London W6 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 2 to July 27
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾
Up against Matilda, this musical treatment of Sue Townsend’s Eighties bestseller – transferring to the West End after a premiere at the Menier two years ago – may look a little flat-footed. But it has a charm of its own, relaying, via perky lyrics and breezy sounds, the trials and tribulations of adolescence, as experienced by Leicester’s nerdish boy-hero.
Ambassadors Theatre, London WC2 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 2 to Oct 12
The End of History
David Morrissey and Lesley Sharp lead this new one from the prolific Jack Thorne, reuniting with the director of his mega-hit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, John Tiffany, to revisit 1997 and the dawn of New Labour via a family meal in Newbury.
Royal Court Theatre, London SW1 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 3 to Aug 10
Life of Pi
Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning best-seller about an unlikely life-raft bearing a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, a tiger and a 16-year-old boy, brought to the screen in 2012, now comes to the stage, in a production, with puppetry, directed by Max Webster.
Sheffield Crucible (0114 249600; sheffieldtheatres.co.uk), from July 8 to July 20
David Hare returns to his favoured stomping-ground with a modernised reboot of Ibsen’s epic odyssey drama of 1867, with the dependably exciting James McCardle taking on the mantle of Peter and heading from Florida to his native Scotland, via Egypt and a mountain of trolls. Direction by Jonathan Kent. And bound for the Edinburgh International Festival too.
Jesus Christ Superstar
Timothy Sheader’s invigorating, stripped back and sexually magnetic revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lift-off rock opera about the messiah played two sell-out seasons at the Open Air Theatre and won an Olivier for Best Musical Revival.
Barbican Theatre, London EC2 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 9 to Aug 24
Last seen in London in 2015, the world’s biggest selling magic show returns – with a new line-up including dare-devil and escape-artist Jonathan Goodwin, who has been hanged, buried alive, hung by his toes from helicopters and burned at the stake!
Shaftesbury Theatre, London WC2 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 10 to Sept 1
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Louis de Bernières’ romantic 1994 saga of life on an Italian occupied Greek island during the Second World War reaches the stage 25 years on, with playwright Rona Munro and director Melly Still producing a fleet, muscular retelling, concentrating on the narrative guts: the slow-burn romance between the spirited Pelagia (a winning Madison Clare) and the mandolin-strumming Corelli (Alex Mugnaioni).
Harold Pinter Theatre, London SW1 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 10 to Aug 31
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
A top-tier 50th anniversary revival of the first major musical collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, which collides the biblical travails of Joseph and his 11 brothers with the secular thrills of rock ‘n’ roll; Jason Donovan, who played the title role at the Palladium, now takes on the role of Pharaoh, Sheridan Smith is the narrator and Jac Yarrow is Joseph.
London Palladium, London W1 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets); from July 11 to Sept 8
After success at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and on the road, Ned Bennett’s revival of Peter Shaffer’s 1973 modern classic about a perturbed 17-year-old on trial for blinding six horses arrives in the West End. Roaming a bare stage, Ethan Kai is transfixing as the troubled anti-hero while Zubin Varla is the lonely psychiatrist who becomes obsessed with his patient’s erotic fixation.
Trafalgar Studios, London SW1 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 15 to Sept 7
The Night of the Iguana
Clive Owen returns to the West End for the first time in 18 years to play Rev T Lawrence Shannon, a defrocked man of the cloth turned emotionally volatile, and self-disgracing, travel tour guide in Mexico circa 1940. Lia Williams plays Hannah, a destitute kindred spirit in loneliness in Tennessee Williams’ last major play. James Macdonald directs.
Noël Coward Theatre, London WC2 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 16 to Sept 28
Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’... the Rodgers and Hammerstein show that changed the American musical in 1943 gets a major summertime revival by Jeremy Sams, with Josie Lawrence starring as Aunt Eller.
Chichester Festival Theatre (01243 781312; cft.org.uk), from July 22 to Sept 7
The Bridges of Madison County
Trevor Nunn directs the UK premiere of a musical version of Robert James Waller’s bestselling 1992 novella. Jenna Russell leads the cast as Francesca, the Italian wartime bride whose farmers’ life in the Midwest is turned upside down when she meets a National Geographic photographer on assignment filming local bridges. Book by Marsha Norman; music and lyrics by award-winning Jason Robert Brown.
Menier Chocolate Factory, London SE1 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from July 23 to Sept 14
The ever-productive Jamie Lloyd (fresh from his Pinter festival triumph) tackles Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s late Seventies rock-opera rendering of the life of Argentinian political phenomenon Eva Peron. Chicagoan actress Samantha Pauly takes the lead. The show is the fastest selling production in the theatre’s history.
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London NW1 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), from Aug 8 to Sept 21
The Secret River
Kate Grenville’s acclaimed novel of 2005 comes to the UK stage in an award-winning adaptation by Andrew Bovell (staged by Sydney Theatre Company) that takes audiences across the complex terrain of early Australian history. A young man transported to New South Wales in 1806 lays claim to a patch of land on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, which brings him into conflict with its aboriginal custodians, the Dharug. Neil Armfield’s production brings out the clash of cultures.
National’s Olivier Theatre, London SE1 (020 7452 3000; nationaltheatre.org.uk), from Aug 22 to Sept 7
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman fringe show turned TV phenomenon returns to the stage in what she says will be her last performance of the piece. Much gnashing of teeth for many fans – as it sold out in a trice.
Wyndham’s Theatre, London WC2 (delfontmackintosh.co.uk), from Aug 28 to Sept 14; returns only
Mamma Mia! The Party
Set in a taverna on the island of Skopelos, this Abba-music sprinkled romcom unfolds while guests tuck into Greek food before heading for the dance-floor at the end. Best availability towards the end of the summer.
The O2, London SE10 (0844 871 2118; Telegraph Tickets), booking from Aug 29 until Feb 16 2020