Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, London
Jamie Lloyd continues to produce exciting work with his Trafalgar Transformed seasons (recent productions include Macbeth with James McAvoy and The Hothouse with Simon Russell Beale).
The latest is a staging of Richard III, with the intriguing casting in the lead role of Martin Freeman (an actor more associated with meek characters, such as Watson in Sherlock). Gina McKee plays Queen Elizabeth and Jo Stone-Fewings is Buckingham. SH
trafalgartransformed.com, 0844 871 7632, to September 27
Perseverance Drive, Bush Theatre, London
Artistic director Madani Younis stages this new play by Robin Soans about family tensions, loyalties and principles. Members of the Gillard family have dark secrets that threaten to break their faith in one another and the story follows them from Barbados to Leytonstone, east London, in Soans’s epic play. SH
bushtheatre.co.uk, 020 8743 5050, to August 16
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Gielgud Theatre, London
This excellent stage adaptation by writer Simon Stephens and director Marianne Elliott of Mark Haddon’s best-selling book has had adventures of its own. Having transferred from the National Theatre to the Apollo in the West End, it became headline news when part of the ceiling collapsed last year.
It resurfaces at the Gielgud, with Graham Butler playing Christopher, the 15-year-old boy who draws the audience into his perspective on life and experience of family breakdown. An inventive set helps tell the story of Christopher’s detective work after he finds a dead dog on the lawn. It’s a funny, but moving piece of theatre, which shows how hard it is to do right by those we love. SH
curiousonstage.com, 020 7452 3000, to February 14
Great Britain, National Theatre, London
Richard Bean is a master of crashingly unsubtle but still bang on-target jokes. He is, therefore, a natural to write a satire about the recent British press scandals, in particular phone hacking, but embracing all the cosy corruption of media, politics and police. The National Theatre didn’t even announce its existence until the recent trials had ended – and no wonder. Billie Piper as news editor Paige Britain is at the centre of an astoundingly specific comedy that gets every count of the indictment in detail amid a stream of against-your-better judgment laughs. Elegant it ain’t, but the play – and Nicholas Hytner’s big, bold production – are well in tune with both its subject matter and its times. IS
nationaltheatre.org.uk, 020 7452 3000, to August 23
Skylight, Wyndham’s Theatre, London
Though it’s nearly 20 years since David Hare’s play premiered, the questions about social inequality are sadly as topical as ever. In Stephen Daldry’s fine revival, Bill Nighy is excellent as Tom, the successful middle-aged restaurateur, and Carey Mulligan counterpoints him beautifully as Kyra, his former lover, who now works in a tough school.
At the centre of the play is a huge ideological and political argument, but while the two principal characters are rather too easily polarised by Hare, he offsets this by mixing sharp debate with messy feelings. Intellectually and emotionally satisfying. SH
SkylightWestEnd.com, 0844 482 5120, to August 23
The Events, Young Vic, London
A return to the Young Vic of this probing, challenging and compassionate play by David Greig and Ramin Gray. The piece examines the aftermath of an atrocity – in this case, the mass shooting of members of a community choir – and the impact on local vicar and choir leader Claire (Neve McIntosh).
It pulls in a huge range of explanations for violence and confronts some of the most pressing questions of our times: how to tackle extremism, what impact violent images have on susceptible minds, how to overcome isolation and alienation. The play touches on dark aspects of humanity, but also – through music – the most uplifting elements too. SH
youngvic.org, 020 7922 2922, Tuesday to August 2
The Elephantom, New London Theatre, London
Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? And were they the size of a truck? Ross Collins’s show for those aged four and over concerns a giant, floating elephant: a spectral imaginary friend who glides into the life of a lonely girl whose parents are too busy for fun. Adapted by Ben Power and directed by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, this National Theatre production plays out wordlessly and spends a little too long establishing the daily routine. But it eventually lifts off with the arrival of the Elephantom, mixing a delicate, ethereal magic with some earthy gags about mess and smells. SH
nationaltheatre.org.uk, 020 7452 3000, to September 6