Experimental feature

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Experimental feature

Shakespeare in Love, Noël Coward Theatre, London

Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman’s popular 1998 film script seems even more at home on the stage, deftly adapted by playwright Lee Hall. In 1593 London, young William Shakespeare is suffering from writer’s block – until he falls in love with stage-struck noblewoman Viola De Lesseps. There’s star-crossed love, cross-dressing, mistaken identity and a host of other familiar Shakespearean scenarios – and out of it all emerges Romeo and Juliet. Performed by a cracking ensemble, Declan Donnellan’s rumbustious, witty production becomes a love letter to the nature of theatre itself. Sarah Hemming

shakespeareinlove.com, 0844 482 5141 booking to October 25

My Night with Reg, Donmar Warehouse, London

There is an added poignancy to this revival of Kevin Elyot’s groundbreaking play in that its author will not be there to see it, having died very recently. First produced in 1994, the play is set in the 1980s against the background of mounting fear about Aids. But while it portrays a circle of gay friends and the impact of the virus on their lives, this is not an issue play, more a moving depiction of unrequited love, loneliness and yearning. Robert Hastie directs this staging, with Julian Ovenden playing John and Jonathan Broadbent as Guy. SH

donmarwarehouse.com, August 5 to September 27

The White Devil, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

A web of infidelity, intrigue and blackmail courtesy of the pen of that 17th-century master of dark revenge tragedies, John Webster. Vittoria is having an affair with Brachiano, a situation that becomes more and more difficult to maintain and leads to increasingly violent and desperate attempts to remove anything and anybody that stands in their way. Expect director Maria Aberg to deliver seething, dark emotions and a high body count. SH

rsc.org.uk, 0844 800 1110, August 6 to November 29

Thérèse Raquin, Theatre Royal, Bath

You wait several years for a Thérèse Raquin and then two come along at once. This one is a straight dramatisation by respected writer Helen Edmundson. The unhappy heroine is trapped in 19th-century Paris, condemned to a loveless marriage and a lifetime of watching her domineering aunt play dominoes. Until one evening the alluring Laurent arrives: an illicit affair follows, leading to death and destruction. Jonathan Munby’s fine cast includes Pippa Nixon, Alison Steadman and Desmond Barrit. SH

theatreroyal.org.uk, 01225 448844, August 7 to 16

Thérèse Raquin, Park Theatre, London

And here is the murderous, passionate story of Thérèse and her lover again, this time in a musical version by Nona Shepphard, with music by Craig Adams, this innovative treatment tells the tale of adulterous love using music and an onstage chorus watching the action. It was much praised when it had a run at London’s Finborough Theatre earlier this year. Julie Atherton plays Thérèse, with Greg Barnett as her lover and Tara Hugo as her tyrannical aunt. SH

parktheatre.co.uk, 020 7870 6876, August 5 to 24

Holy Warriors, Shakespeare’s Globe, London

David Eldridge’s dramatisation gradually unfolds from stereotype to the kind of history play that sits well in Shakespeare’s Globe, and then fires off into an audacious stratosphere. We see Richard the Lionheart and Saladin struggle for possession of 12th-century Jerusalem, first in period style then in modern dress and language, with all the echoes of the intervening centuries. James Dacre oversees a beautifully pitched production of a coruscatingly ambitious play that offers no easy answers. Ian Shuttleworth

shakespearesglobe.com, 020 7401 9919, to August 24

The Nether, Royal Court, London

Stanley Townsend plays a man who runs an online virtual-reality site where sexual and violent abuse of children is more or less obligatory. Yet he, writer Jennifer Haley and director Jeremy Herrin challenge us to think the unthinkable, as the play opens up from a bare interrogation room into sumptuous virtual settings, while we begin identifying “real-world” characters with their online avatars and wondering where we stand and why. It signals a daring direction in programming for the Royal Court under its artistic director Vicky Featherstone. IS

royalcourttheatre.com, 020 7565 5000, to August 9

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