Book Your Flight! Five Can't-Miss Shows to See in London This Fall

Book Your Flight! Five Can't-Miss Shows to See in London This Fall
Sophe Okenedo & Ralph Fiennes in "Antony and Cleopatra," Antony Sher in "Pinter at the Pinter,"
Kyle Soller in "The Inheritance" and Rosalie Craig & Patti LuPone in "Company"
(Photos: Marc Brenner, Tristram Kenton & Helen Maybanks)

Fall brings with it shorter days but always more exciting nights as the London theater season kicks into gear, bringing with it the promise of excitement across the spectrum, whether on or off the West End. The season ahead boasts various titles that look set to join the ranks of The Lehman Trilogy and Ian McKellen’s King Lear, which are the reigning summer season hits at the moment. Below are five shows to watch out for, and why, in order of their opening nights.

Antony and Cleopatra, National Theatre/Olivier
Opens on September 26
Shakespeare’s tragic (and lengthily told) love story relating a storming passion so grand that it burns itself out tends to win raves for its female lead while the male half of the title often goes unremarked: think Eve Best, Harriet Walter and Judi Dench, to name three notable local Cleos over time. That looks unlikely to be true of Simon Godwin’s new National Theatre production, which pairs Tony winner Sophie Okonedo with none other than film and stage star Ralph Fiennes: expect fireworks aplenty and some exceptionally beautiful speaking of the verse.

Pinter at the Pinter, Harold Pinter Theatre
Opens on September 27

A season of Harold Pinter at the playhouse that bears his name—what better way could there to be the honor the Nobel laureate who did more than any English playwright of the last half-century to redefine the theatrical landscape? This audacious project from the Jamie Lloyd Company will be presenting through February all of Pinter’s short plays in various combinations and with a spread of directors ranging from Lloyd to the Tony-nominated actress Lia Williams (Skylight, Arcadia). The venture kicks off with such titles as Ashes to Ashes and the double-bill of The Lover and The Collection, with a cast that includes Jonjo O’Neill, Kate O’Flynn and the actor-knight Antony Sher, here taking a break from the Shakespeare heavyweights that have been his preferred terrain of late.

The Inheritance, Noel Coward Theatre
Opens on October 13

Matthew Lopez’s two-part, seven-hour play of gay life in the post-Angels in America generation has been the surprise success of the year so far and sold out its much-acclaimed Young Vic run earlier this year, leaving audiences shaken and sobbing—and on their feet in admiration. Its current commercial transfer is widely viewed as preparatory to New York, by which point stars Kyle Soller and Andrew Burnap will once again have rightly been the toasts of London, alongside a distinguished supporting cast that includes John Benjamin Hickey and, showing up just in time to steal the play, Vanessa Redgrave. The ever-protean Stephen Daldry directs: between this and the ongoing commercial transfer of another Young Vic title, The Jungle, Daldry is having quite a year.

Company, Gielgud Theatre
Opens on October 17

That perennial bachelor Bobby has been re-gendered as Bobbie in this audacious overhaul of the 1970 Stephen Sondheim-George Furth classic directed by two-time Tony winner Marianne Elliott and starring Rosalie Craig in what is sure to be a career-defining role. The supporting cast includes a cavalcade of male eye candy (Jonathan Bailey as Jamie, not the original show’s Amy, among them) alongside a verifiable Broadway legend in Patti LuPone who here inherits Elaine Stritch’s signature number, “Ladies Who Lunch,” and is poised to absolutely make it her own.

Fiddler on the Roof, Menier Chocolate Factory
Opens on December 5

The indefatigable Trevor Nunn has directed four shows at the Menier Chocolate Factory, one of which (A Little Night Music) ended up on Broadway. This year he returns to the small but mighty south London venue just before Christmas with the first London revival of the Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick classic since 2007, here starring the triple-threat actor/writer/director Andy Nyman as Tevye: his long-overdue musical theater starring role in the same space where Nyman appeared opposite Aaron Tveit in Assassins. Off-Broadway audiences may remember Nyman as the director of that master of solo sleight of hand, Derren Brown, but here’s a chance for him to grab centerstage and hold it in a storied musical whose tale of familial dispossession hits home harder than ever today.