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Back to school for Theatreland

5 September 2015 | Kate Stanbury

Official London Theatre brings you a roundup of the best things to see in Theatreland this September...

It’s back to school for kids across the capital this month, including Rob Brydon, who as of Tuesday joined the UK’s youngsters in the classroom. Not an actual classroom – fear not, the 50-year-old Gavin And Stacey star hasn’t made a drastic career move without telling anyone – but the fictional teaching space taking over The Old Vic for Matthew Warchus’ first production as Artistic Director.


As if Brydon’s role in Future Conditional wasn’t exciting enough, Theatreland’s very own deal-dishing ticket booth TKTS is offering you half price tickets to see the school-set drama through its returning promotion, West End Wednesdays.


The topical play, which tackles the conundrum of British schooling through a myriad of characters, joins a host of productions, from Olivier Award-winning musicals to acclaimed plays, bringing theatre fans post-summer-blues-banishing bargains this month. Memphis The Musical, McQueen, American Idiot, Dear Lupin and The Play That Goes Wrong are among the other shows taking part, so head to the Leicester Square ticket booth on any Wednesday in September to make the most of the midweek discount.


Being September, The Old Vic isn’t the only venue welcoming an exciting new season. The Royal Court has a few treats up its autumnal sleeves, including the world premiere of a new drama by Martin McDonagh. He’s the writer behind The Cripple Of Inishmaan; you know, that play that was revived in the West End in 2013 starring a Hollywood star known for his portrayal of a certain bespectacled boy wizard. Sorry Potter fans, we can’t promise you Mr Radcliffe (though we can offer news of another Hogwarts inhabitant’s West End return), but how about David Morrissey, Reece Shearsmith and Johnny Flynn for a trio of co-stars? They’ll lead the cast of Hangmen, which tells the story of the country’s second best hangman on the day that hanging is abolished, from 10 September.


It’s stars galore elsewhere in the West End too, as Nicole Kidman, Stephen Fry, Emma Bunton and Mel Giedroyc all make their London stage returns. Okay, so we may only get to see the latter three for one night only as part of The Rocky Horror Show’s limited West End run, BUT that performance will, thank goodness, be screened live to cinemas across the country on 17 September, meaning even more fans of the cult musical have the chance to do The Time Warp again...


Kidman, as any avid theatre fan should know, will be back on the London stage from 5 September in Photograph 51, Anna Ziegler’s drama about the discovery of DNA. It’s only been A DECADE AND A HALF since she last trod the boards in the West End, a performance that was famously described by one theatre critic as “Pure theatrical Viagra” so naturally our excitement levels have soared for that one. You can take a sneak peek at the actress in the role of scientist Rosalind Franklin in the show’s official trailer.


Inspired by Kidman’s character – and a little show called Hamlet currently playing at the Barbican Theatre – we embarked on a modest (but potentially life-changing) scientific investigation of our own. Rigorously tested and highly accurate (sort of), we’re putting your music and fashion choices (like we said, scientific) under the microscope to help you discover which Hamlet you are. Will you be David Tennant, Rory Kinnear, Benedict Cumberbatch or another of the capital’s former Danish princes? Take the test to find out.


You fixed your answers to make yourself Cumberbatch didn’t you? It’s okay, we’ll forgive you, but if you’re in a habit of making things exactly how you want them to be, might we recommend a trip to Showstopper! The Improvised Musical from 24 September? They can’t make you become Benedict Cumberbatch, or his spouse, sorry, but they can make you a completely new and hilarious musical on the spot. Taking audience members’ suggestions and turning them into everything from a musical about an ambitious fish and chip shop owner with the title Sweeney Cod to a high-stakes opera of communist vampires, channelling Mel Brooks and featuring an undead chorus called To Bleed Or Not To Bleed, they can pretty much make you whatever you want… apart from Benedict Cumberbatch.

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