Spring has sprung! The Beast from the East is but a dimly recalled folk myth! Here are five shows to book now that open-air season is almost upon us.
1. ‘Hamlet’ Shakespeare’s Globe
April 25-August 26
As per usual, the outdoor theatre season kicks off at the Globe. And the big production to watch surely has to be season opener ‘Hamlet’, in which the theatre’s new artistic director, Michelle Terry, will star as the doomed Dane in a highly unusual production that’s being collaboratively created by the ensemble in an approximation of the practices of Shakespeare’s day.
You might also like: Mark Rylance returns to the Globe to star as the villainous Iago, opposite André Holland, in another great Shakespearean tragedy, ‘Othello’ (July 20-October 13).
2. ‘The Turn of the Screw’ Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre June 22-30
English National Opera and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre team up for an alfresco production of Benjamin Britten’s version of Henry James’s chiller about a governess who comes across unearthly happenings at an isolated country house. Should be pretty atmospheric watching this as the sun sets.
You might also like: The Open Air Theatre’s big summer musical is always a must and this year’s revival of cult classic ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ (August 3-September 15) should be a real treat.
3. West End Live, Trafalgar Square
This weekend-long showcase for London’s biggest and best musicals always draws a huge crowd – it’s completely free. Thrifty theatre fans can rely on the casts of classic long-runners like ‘Les Mis’ and ‘Phantom’ to turn out, but the big question is whether or not the ensemble of show-of-the-moment ‘Hamilton’ will care to join them for a song.
You might also like: Keep an eye out for the free theatre at the National Theatre’s River Stage Festival, and Summer by the River at The Scoop.
4. Greenwich + Docklands International Festival
June 21-July 7
GDIF is always a treat, bringing the world’s best and most spectacular street theatre to Greenwich and Docklands, much of it later on a summer’s night. This year’s edition is the usual whirlwind of spectacle – too many shows to mention them all here, but one must-see is the French ‘La Parade Amoureuse’ (June 30) in which a herd of glowing reindeer (pictured) will prance down Roman Road in Bow.
You might also like: Fellow London festival LIFT has a host of outdoor events including ‘Fly by Night’ (June 21-23), a collaboration with GDIF that will see a flock of LED-toting pigeons fly over the Thames.
5. Iris Theatre season at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
June 20-September 2
Summer stalwart Iris has been bringing ambitious, semi-immersive stage versions of classic stories to the grounds of St Paul’s, aka The Actors’ Church, since 2007. This year it will be performing Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ (June 20-July 28) and a stage version of Alexandre Dumas’s timeless ‘The Three Musketeers’ (August 2-September 2).
You might also like: Shakespeare in the Squares will tour London’s leafiest pockets with its production of ‘As You Like It’ (June 20-July 13).