11 plays to see this summer – starring Aidan Turner, Vanessa Kirby, Laura Linney and more

Planning a trip to the West End? Check out which TV stars are treading the boards...

Vanessa Kirby as Julie (photos: Richard H Smith)

Lots of familiar faces will be strutting their stuff on London’s stages this summer.

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Our roundup also includes a cult teen film that’s now a musical, and a great play about Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Book early to avoid disappointment!


1. Aidan Turner is to play a terrorist in The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Aidan Turner Poldark BBC publicity pic, BD

 

The Poldark star will make his West End debut in black comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Oscar-winning Martin McDonagh’s critically acclaimed satire on terrorism is set in 1993 and tells the story of Mad Padraic, whose beloved cat has been run over on the island of Inishmore. The murder of Wee Thomas the cat sets off a chain of bloody events, which will see Turner swapping that legendary scythe for a cut-throat razor.

When? 23 June to 8 September 2018

Where? Noel Coward Theatre, London

2. Orlando Bloom is a corrupt cop in comic thriller Killer Joe

Orlando Bloom, Killer Joe

Orlando Bloom plays a cop who moonlights as a part-time contract killer in this dark comic thriller. The Smith family hatches a plan to murder their estranged matriarch for her insurance money. They hire Joe Cooper, police detective and killer-for-hire, but the plan soon flounders…

Bloom is joined by Kingsman’s Sophie Cookson, Benidorm’s Adam Gillen, Neve McIntosh and Steffan Rhodri.

Read our review

When? 18 May to 18 August 2018

Where? Trafalgar Studios, London

3. The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby lets her hair down in a modern Miss Julie

Vanessa Kirby as Julie (photos: Richard H Smith)

Last month Vanessa Kirby won a Bafta for her memorable turn as Princess Margaret in The Crown. In Julie, she plays an even more reckless woman: one of theatre’s unhappiest heroines, Miss Julie.

Swedish dramatist August Strindberg’s 1888 play has been transported to 21st century London. Kirby’s Julie lives in a mansion with her wealthy businessman father, who fails to show up for his daughter’s decadent birthday party. 130 years after she was created, Strindberg’s heroine still feels painfully relevant, and Kirby’s mesmerising performance will stay with you long after this short play hurtles to its unhappy end.

Julie will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on 6 September. Check out ntlive.nationaltheatre.org for more details.

Read our review

When? 31 May to 8 September

Where? The National’s Lyttelton Theatre, London

4. Andrew Scott goes solo in Sea Wall

Andrew Scott, Sea Wall

Sea Wall is a one-man play that was written for Andrew Scott 10 years ago, and is being revived as part of The Old Vic’s bicentenary celebrations.

Things for Alex are good. He loves his wife, his daughter, his city, his job. But sometimes the force of life can crash against you. Sometimes everything you thought you could always depend on can be taken away.

When? Monday 18 June until Saturday 30 June 2018

Where? The Old Vic, London

5. Colin Morgan and Ciarán Hinds tackle Anglo-Irish relations in Translations

Translations play, National Theatre

The National Theatre has dusted off Brian Friel’s play set in Ireland after the 1800 Act of Union.

The drama plays out in a hedge school (where farm families were taught) in Baile Beag in the early 1900s. Owen, the youngest son of alcoholic headmaster Hugh, returns to his small hometown with two officers of the Royal Engineer. They are mapping the Irish countryside for the first time since the Act of Union has united Great Britain and Ireland.

Read our review

When? Monday 18 June until Saturday 30 June 2018

Where? The Old Vic, London

6. Laura Linney doubles up in My Name Is Lucy Barton

Laura Linney

The Big C and Ozark actress makes her West End debut in a deeply moving adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s bestselling novel.

Linney plays an author reminiscing about when she was in hospital with a strange illness, a time during which her mother came to visit her and the two women talked properly for the first time in years. The most extraordinary thing about the play is how Linney shifts from Lucy to Lucy’s mother so seamlessly, suddenly becoming an older woman with a deep drawl.

My Name is Lucy Barton is 90 minutes of sadness, humour, love and acts of kindness that are almost too much to bear.

Read our review

When? 2 June to 23 June 2018

Where? The Bridge Theatre, London

7. Humans’ Emily Berrington revives a radical feminist classic

MACHINAL

Best known for playing a conscious robot in Humans, Emily Berrington plays a young woman who isn’t supposed to think and feel in Machinal – a cog in the unstoppable capitalist, patriarchal machine.

When it was written by American journalist Sophie Treadwell in the 1920s, Machinal was decades ahead of its time and still feels pertinent. Loosely based on a notorious murder case, it’s about a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage who snaps and murders her husband.

Read our review

When? Until 1 July

Where? Almeida Theatre, Islington, London

8. David Haig wrote and stars in Pressure

Pressure, Park Theatre

The weather forecast makes for gripping viewing in David Haig’s play Pressure, which transfers to the West End from Park Theatre. 

It’s June 1944. The wheels of war are rolling and the allied forces are set for the largest seaborne invasion in history. Months of meticulous planning will culminate in a few days when conditions – including the moon and tides – will be just right. But the launch is still not a certainty. For Eisenhower to give the go ahead he needs to know the weather won’t destroy their chances. 

Read our review

When? 7 June to 1 September

Where? Ambassadors Theatre, London

9. Ex-EastEnder Jenna Russell takes a turn in Tony-winning musical Fun Home

Fun Home play

Starring former EastEnder Jenna Russell (aka Michelle Fowler), this musical version of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel won five Tony awards (America’s answer to the Oliviers).

The audience meets Alison at three stages of her life. Memories of her 1970s childhood in a funeral home merge with her college love life and her coming out. Looking back on her complex relationship with her father, Alison finds they had more in common than she ever knew…

When? 18 June to 1 September

Where? The Young Vic, London

10. The King and I transfers from Broadway

Before it was an Oscar-winning film, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s masterpiece was a musical. This production transfers from Broadway where it took America by storm.

Set in 1860s Bangkok, it tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, whom the imperious King brings to Siam to tutor his many wives and children.

The score includes the classics Getting To Know You, Hello Young Lovers, Shall We Dance, I Have Dreamed, and Something Wonderful.

When? 23 June to 29 September 2018

Where? London Palladium

11. Cult 80s movie Heathers is now a musical

Welcome to Westerberg High, where popularity is so very a matter of life and death, and Veronica Sawyer is just another of the nobodies dreaming of a better day… Heathers the Musical stars Carrie Hope Fletcher and is based on the 1988 cult classic Heathers, which starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.

When Veronica Sawyer is unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams finally start to come true. Until JD turns up, the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it’s murder being a somebody… 

When? 9 June to 4 August 2018

Where? The Other Palace, London

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You can find our theatre reviews at radiotimes.com/theatre