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Find out what our theatre team made of London's new openings

Measure for Measure

The more seriously you take ‘Measure for Measure’ the more ridiculous it becomes. Credit therefore must go to Cheek by Jowl’s Declan Donnellan for ensuring that his fascinating and frequently gripping Russian production of Shakespeare’s tale of sexual prohibition remains undaunted by this law of diminishing returns.

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Barbican Centre Monday April 20 2015 - Saturday April 25 2015

Circolombia

Dangling from the Roundhouse’s domed ceiling, high above us, a performer caught in a spotlight calmly lets go of her rope. We gasp as she falls into darkness. Returning to the venue after rocking it a few years ago, Colombia-based circus troupe Circolombia pull this stunt twice in their new show.

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Roundhouse Until Sunday May 3 2015

The Bombing of the Grand Hotel

It says a lot about the popularity of Maggie Thatcher that she features in just one, minute-long scene in this new play about the attempt made on her life in Brighton in 1984. It’s a smart move on the part of Wildspark Theatre and director Paul Hodson, who instead focus on the relationship between IRA bomber Patrick Magee (played by Ruairi Conaghan) and Jo Berry (Rachel Blackman), whose father – Tory MP Anthony Berry – was among five killed in the blast. Plummy, kaftan-wearing Jo may not be classic heroine material, but she’s a damn sight more relatable than the Iron Lady.After a bitty first half that concentrates on Magee’s involvement with the IRA leading up to the attack, the play’s emotional heft comes just after the interval as, 16 years on from the bombing, Magee and Berry finally meet. This 20-minute scene starts off resembling the world’s most awkward first date, as the pair nervously small-talk their way around a particularly grim elephant in the room. The chemistry between the pair is both bizarre and compelling, and by the end they’re euphoric, doing philosophical somersaults as they seek to reconcile blame, guilt and forgiveness with senses of personal and political duty. The bare-bones staging may be a touch unambitious and the ensemble – as sundry firemen and soldiers – tend to overact, but there’s warmth and hope aplenty in this keenly observed examination of a truly unique relationship.

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Cockpit Theatre Tuesday April 21 2015 - Saturday May 2 2015

Alice's Adventures Underground

A flash of blue and blonde darts by you in a faded looking glass; a red knave bemoans the difficulty of finding just the right rouge for roses; a Queen screams across a tannoy about her missing tarts; a grinning Cheshire cat blinks at you sideways while a white rabbit hurries past looking anxiously at a butter-smeared watch.Welcome to Wonderland.

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The Vaults Until Sunday May 31 2015

Death of a Comedian

In Irish playwright Owen McCafferty’s new piece, rookie comedian Steve Johnston makes a deal with the devil. This fallen angel is no cloven-hoofed beast, though: he’s a personable chap in a sharp suit who says he’s the key to Johnston’s fame and fortune. It’s a juicy premise: can the edgy – if unsuccessful – Steve maintain what it is that makes his comedy his, while also gaining wider recognition.

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Soho Theatre Until Saturday May 16 2015

The Absence of War

The remarkable thing about this production of David Hare's 1994 play about the end of old Labour is how fresh and relevant it feels.

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Rose Theatre Kingston Tuesday April 21 2015 - Saturday April 25 2015

Against Captain’s Orders: A Journey into the Uncharted

Avast! Those of you still trying to work out what the bejesus was going on in Punchdrunk’s cryptic odyssey ‘The Drowned Man’ will be relieved to discover that the latest show from the immersive theatre gurus ventures into calmer waters.There’s a catch, though: ‘Against Captain’s Orders’ is in fact the work of Punchdrunk Enrichment, the company’s learning-centric spin-off, and is running not in a hip abandoned warehouse but the basement of the Greenwich Maritime Museum.

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National Maritime Museum Until Saturday August 1 2015

Gypsy

Critics' choice

There are moments when ‘Gypsy’ feels like a lovely indulgence. Not seen in this country for 40 years, Jonathan Kent’s revival of this 1959 musical is like a collector’s loving restoration job on a beautifully-made vintage car. With a full, jazzy orchestra doing total justice to Jule Styne’s brassy score, some beautifully Gene Kelly-ish choreography, a discretely sumptuous set, clockwork stage management, and a huge cast, it purrs like a dream.

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Savoy Theatre Monday April 20 2015 - Saturday July 18 2015

The Twits

In this new stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved ‘The Twits’, monkeys are tortured, dogs are shot, people are emotionally crushed and there’s an exceptionally unhappy ending for a certain red-nosed reindeer – you’d do well to heed the ‘for brave eight-year-olds and their families’ guidance.

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Royal Court Theatre Monday April 20 2015 - Saturday May 30 2015

Between Worlds

English National Opera may be more in the news for its boardroom troubles at the moment, but on the stage it is still commissioning and producing bold and interesting new work from rising home-grown composers. The latest offering is from composer Tansy Davies, whose first foray into opera tackles one of the most pivotal events of our age: the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001.

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Barbican Centre Until Saturday April 25 2015

After Electra

In April De Angelis’s new black comedy, octogenarian Virgie is determined to set her own date with the Grim Reaper. The eccentric, intelligent and coherent 84-year-old has stacked up a fair few years behind her, and wants to pop off now ‘before it gets any worse’. But choosing her own path to death turns out to be trickier than she had imagined.

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Tricycle Monday April 20 2015 - Saturday May 2 2015

Animals

There’s a cauldron of good ideas simmering in the middle of ‘Animals’, Emma Adams’ new play for Theatre 503. She’s written a kind of reverse fairy-tale, told from the point of view of the witches three. The play is set in a future England where people cease to be useful after a certain age and can be euthanised by a Utility Inspector if they can’t produce the proper paperwork.

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Theatre 503 Tuesday April 21 2015 - Saturday May 2 2015

Blush of Dogs

Fragen Theatre Company’s take on the ancient Greek myth of feuding brothers King Atreus and Thyestes – the latter returning from exile to a country ruined by their war for the throne – is a demented cackle of a play. It’s a bloodied ride through tragedy, exerting a feverish pull as it careens from the epic to the absurd with arterial-black humour.Writer-director Roland Reynolds sets the tale against a rubbish-filled, dystopian backdrop that hints at nuclear fallout.

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Tabard Theatre Tuesday April 21 2015 - Saturday April 25 2015

Dead Sheep

Once a familiar counterpart to Anne Robinson on the BBC’s ‘Watchdog’, jobbing presenter Jonathan Maitland has made a decent, if predictable, theatre debut with a play that tries to get under the skin of Geoffrey Howe, Margaret Thatcher’s unassuming assassin. The mouse that roared, the dead sheep with the wolf’s bite, Howe is followed here from his early success as the mastermind of the brutal 1981 budget, to the resignation speech that would finally tear the Iron Lady down.

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Park Theatre Tuesday April 21 2015 - Saturday May 9 2015

The Feast at Solhaug

Margit of Solhaug is so rich that she sleeps on silk pillows. But she is stuck in a loveless marriage, fettered by the riches she once sought. ‘The Feast of Solhaug’ has a whiff of ‘Hedda Gabler’ about it – but this is one of Henrik Ibsen’s earlier works and, although there are some flashes of darkness in this UK premiere, ‘Feast’ is a pale imitation of Ibsen’s later classics.

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Barons Court Theatre Wednesday April 22 2015 - Saturday April 25 2015

Pioneer

Critics' choice

It's probably written down somewhere in an old dusty book of Edinburgh Fringe Rules that staging a big-scale sci-fi thriller with a complex set is Not Advisable. Science-focussed theatre company Curious Directive have clearly ignored all the rules, though for this breathtakingly ambitious new piece.

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Shoreditch Town Hall Monday April 20 2015 - Wednesday April 22 2015

Three Short Plays by Samuel Beckett

Sometimes Irish dramatist Samuel Beckett jumped the shark. Heresy, I know, but it’s true. In the quest for innovation – stress-testing the art-form to see what it could survive – sometimes he left it looking lightweight. Once or twice, this collection, assembled by director Sara Joyce, looks an incy bit Emperor’s New Clothes.

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Old Red Lion Theatre Until Saturday April 25 2015

The Book of Mormon

Critics' choice

Nic Rouleau and Brian Sears are the current Elders Price and Cunningham Brace yourself for a shock: ‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Broadway-munching musical is not particularly shocking. Sure, there are ‘fucks’ and ‘cunts’ and gags about baby rape – but beneath it all, this is a big-hearted affair that pays note-perfect homage to the spirit of Broadway’s golden age as much as the sounds.

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Prince of Wales Theatre Monday April 20 2015 - Saturday July 25 2015

Pioneer

Critics' choice

It's probably written down somewhere in an old dusty book of Edinburgh Fringe Rules that staging a big-scale sci-fi thriller with a complex set is Not Advisable. Science-focussed theatre company Curious Directive have clearly ignored all the rules, though for this breathtakingly ambitious new piece.

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Shoreditch Town Hall Monday April 20 2015 - Wednesday April 22 2015

Oppenheimer

Critics' choice

Transferring from Stratford on a mushroom cloud of acclaim, the RSC’s ‘Oppenheimer’ lives up to the hype.A freewheeling bio-drama about J Robert Oppenheimer, the mastermind of the atomic bomb, Tom Morton-Smith’s epic new play isn’t formally groundbreaking, but it’s ambitious in the very best way.

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Vaudeville Theatre Monday April 20 2015 - Saturday May 23 2015
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