Ever since super-director Rupert Goold took over at the helm, the Almeida in Islington has been our favourite theatre in London, topping our best show of the year charts three years on the trot with 'Chimerica' (2013), 'King Charles III' (2014) and 'Orestia' (2015).
Can the Almeida do it again? Quite probably, and here's what it's going to do it with – take a butcher's at this exclusive announcement of its 2016/17 season.
First up, Ralph Fiennes (pictured) will star in his second major stage role of the year, following Ibsen's 'The Master Builder' to take on Shakespeare's diabolical monarch in the title role of 'Richard III' (Jun 7-Aug 6). Goold will direct the production, which also stars Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Margaret.
Next, 'They Drink It In the Congo' (Aug 12-Oct 1) is the long-awaited second play from Adam Brace, who had a massive cult hit with 'Stovepipe' seven years ago. This dark satire directed by Michael Longhurst follows a Brit's misguided attempts to stage a festival raising awareness of conflict in the Congo.
Then it's 'OIL' (Oct 7-Nov 26) by Ella Hickson, a centuries-spanning epic about man's relationship with black gold that'll be directed by the brilliant Carrie Cracknell.
Finally, confirmation of the rumours that have been flying around for a while: the brilliant Andrew Scott will follow his on-screen nemesis Benedict Cumberbatch in taking on the title role of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' (Feb 2017, dates tba), in a production directed by the visionary Robert Icke. Juliet Stevenson will star opposite him as Gertrude, Hamlet's mother.
In further news, the Almeida's production of Icke and Duncan Macmillan's '1984' will return for its third West End season in June, details to be announced soon.
On July 3 the Almeida Academy for ages five to 14 will stage its first ever production, 'We Know Best: The Small Humans' Guide to Big Human Problems', while in August the Almeida Young Company (ages 16-25) will stage an immersive show at Shoreditch Town Hall called 'From the Ground Up'. Finally, the Almeida has announced a collaboration with fashion photographer Miles Aldridge, who will document the season and provide all publicity images – including the rather spiffy one of Ralph Fiennes, which we have here as an exclusive, for your pleasure.
Public booking for 'Richard III', 'They Drink It In the Congo' and 'OIL' opens May 12.
Public booking for 'Hamlet' opens in the autumn.