Must-see Autumn Theatre, London 2015
What to book: the best theatre coming up in London includes a Kenneth Branagh takeover, famous faces, and star playwrights
Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company; photo by Johan Persson
Plays at the Garrick: Branagh Theatre Season
Endlessly talented director, producer and actor Kenneth Branagh promises an entire year of top quality, star-studded shows as his eponymous theatre company take residency at the Garrick Theatre. There's five plays and a topnotch team of actors, from national treasure Judi Dench to rising starlet Lily James.
Here We Go, National Theatre
Our top pick of the National Theatre's new season is this new play by legendary 76-year-old playwright Caryl Churchill. So vast and varied is her talent, nobody can predict the style of this latest play, but director Dominic Cooke promises that Here We Go is “startling in the way it uses very fresh forms”.
BIG NAMES & FAMOUS FACES
Three years after impressing in The River, Dominic West returns to the London stage
Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Donmar Warehouse
Dominic West and Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery head this racy revival of the famous french play about scandal and sex in West End's coolest theatre.
Linda, Royal Court
Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall returns to the London stage in the hotly-anticipated new play by Penelope Skinner, who made a splash with the The Village Bike. Expect feisty feminism from a story about a 55-year-old women taking on society's disregard for women over a certain age.
Jamie Parker in Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls, Savoy Theatre
Following the storming success of Gypsy, another superlative Chichester Festival Theatre musical comes to London this winter. With a stellar cast and sizzling choreography by Carlos Acosta, this production of Guys and Dolls is an all-singing, all-dancing West End treat.
Funny Girl, Menier Chocolate Factory
Barbra Steisand's breakthrough role will be played by Sheridan Smith in the first UK production of Funny Girl since 1966. Along with hit songs including Don't Rain on my Parade, Funny Girl has a murkier than normal story, making it perfect for those that like their musicals with plenty of bite.
IN THE KNOW
Candlelight at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Shakespeare Inside Season, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Shakespeare's late plays come inside for winter at the Globe in the candlelit intimacy of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Experince the stormy magic of The Tempest or the dramatic reconciliation of The Winter's Tale in a historically accurate version of the original Jacobean theatre for which Shakespeare penned them.
Medea, Almeida Theatre
For the final instalment of a season of modernised Greek drama, Almeida Theatre Artistic Director Rupert Goold directs his wife Kate Fleetwood in Medea. Headline-grabbing feminist writer Rachel Cusk adapts Euripides' tale of a mother so desperate she turns to murder.
From Orange Tree Theatre to the National Theatre: Pomona
Pomona, National Theatre
One of our favourite fringe shows of last year has earned a well-deserved transfer to the National's Temporary Theatre. Already tipped for greatness, playwright Alastair McDowall has revealed a mighty talent with this murky, dystopian drama.
The Father, Wyndham's Theatre
After a flurry of five star reviews, this black comedy by French Playwright Florian Zeller transfers to the West End. Expect to laugh and cry at actor Kenneth Cranham's heart-wrenchingly honest portrayal of dementia.