Blues, Jews and Ukrainian ballet: the best theatre, dance and comedy of autumn 2022


Family Album

In Alan Ayckbourn’s 87th play, three generations of one family live in the same house over 70 years; the drama chronicles their lives from moving-in day in 1952 to a birthday party in 1992 and the day they move out in 2022.
Stephen Joseph theatre, Scarborough, 2 September-1 October.


At the National Theatre in 2019, Inua Ellams adapted Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, transposing its drama to the Biafran war with virtuosity. Now he turns to Sophoclean tragedy with this play in the Theban cycle about rebel children, tyrant kings and divine interventions. Zainab Hasan stars.
Regent’s Park Open Air theatre, London, 3-24 September.

The Doctor

Robert Icke’s provocative play, freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s 1912 drama Professor Bernhardi, was hailed on in its 2019 run at the Almeida. Juliet Stevenson returns as a Jewish doctor in a modern-day exploration of medical ethics, identity politics and antisemitism.
Brighton Theatre Royal, 5-10 September, then touring.

Eureka Day

Helen Hunt gives star voltage to the European premiere of Jonathan Spector’s award-winning comedy about a public health scare at a California school. Its director is Katy Rudd, who was behind the storming success of the National Theatre’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Old Vic, London, 6 September-31 October.

Who Killed My Father

A man returns to the provincial French town in which he grew up to find his father dying. Based on a book by Édouard Louis, this adaptation by Ivo van Hove starring Hans Kesting promises to be a highly charged story of class, homophobia and difficult love between a father and son.
Young Vic, London, 7-24 September.

The Clothes They Stood Up In

This first staging of Alan Bennett’s story about a bizarre kind of robbery, which strips a couple of every last worldly possession, promises to be a belter. It’s adapted by Adrian Scarborough, who also stars alongside Olivier award-winner Sophie Thompson, and is billed as a bittersweet exploration of marriage and unlived lives.
Nottingham Playhouse, 9 September-1 October.


There are several productions of Othello afoot this autumn, including one at the Watermill theatre that weaves in live music, and another at the National Theatre. This celebrated Frantic Assembly revival is a contemporary adaptation by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett and stars Michael Akinsulire as the titular military commander and jealous husband.
Curve Leicester, 19 September-1 October. Then touring.

Jews. In Their Own Words

Written by the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, from verbatim interviews with figures including Simon Schama, Howard Jacobson, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Luciana Berger, as well as song and satire, this promises to be one of the season’s most urgent plays with its exploration of antisemitism in Britain.
Royal Court, London, 19 September-22 October.

Blues for an Alabama Sky

Pearl Cleage’s play about the Harlem renaissance and the Great Depression is set to be dynamically staged in the hands of director Lynette Linton. A play about love, friendship and following your dreams, it stars the magnificent Giles Terera, while Samira Wiley makes her UK stage debut.
National Theatre, London, 20 September-5 November.

The Famous Five: A New Musical

The planet’s future is under threat in this musical by Elinor Cook, based on the beloved Enid Blyton books. Thank God for this young crack team and their abilities to solve all manner of mysteries during their summer holidays. Directed by Tamara Harvey with score by Theo Jamieson.
Theatr Clwyd, Mold, 23 September-15 October, and Chichester Festival theatre, 21 October-12 November.

The Band’s Visit

This musical began life off-Broadway in 2016 and ended up winning 10 Tony awards and a Grammy. With a score by David Yazbek and book by Itamar Moses, it features a group of Egyptian musicians visiting a sleepy corner of Israel and bringing the town bursting to life.
Donmar Warehouse, London, 24 September-3 December.

John Gabriel Borkman

Simon Russell Beale, Clare Higgins and Lia Williams star in this new version of Ibsen’s classic by Lucinda Coxon. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it tells the story of a once respected entrepreneur brought low by a prison sentence for fraud and bankruptcy.
Bridge theatre, London, 24 September-26 November.

Iphigenia in Splott

Gary Owen’s acclaimed monologue set on the streets of modern-day Cardiff and inspired by Greek myth is back after a glorious original season at the Sherman theatre in Wales and the National Theatre in London. Sophie Melville reprises the role of the drink- and drug-addled Effie.
Lyric Hammersmith, London, 26 September-22 October.

James IV: Queen of the Fight

This National Theatre of Scotland production takes place in 1504, and is seen through the eyes of two Moorish women who must fight to keep their place in the court of James IV. Written by Rona Munro, it’s a follow-up to the first three James Plays and promises to bring the same wit and theatricality.
Festival theatre, Edinburgh, 30 September-8 October. Then touring.


Starring David Tennant, Sharon Small and Elliot Levey, this long delayed revival of CP Taylor’s powerful second world war play is directed by Dominic Cooke. It shows how a liberal-minded professor is swept along by the fervour that leads to the unthinkable in Nazi Germany.
Harold Pinter theatre, London, 6 October-24 December.

Local Hero

This musical adaptation – first staged in 2019 – will not only appeal to lovers of Bill Forsyth’s film about a hotshot Texan oil executive dispatched to a backwater Scottish fishing village to cut a cynical deal, but to Dire Straits fans too. Mark Knopfler provides the music and lyrics.
Minerva theatre, Chichester, 8 October-19 November.

The Lavender Hill Mob

The crime caper, best known as the classic Ealing comedy starring Alec Guinness, is brought to the stage, with Miles Jupp playing the bank clerk turned gold bullion robber and Justin Edwards as his accomplice.
Cheltenham Everyman, 13-22 October. Then touring.

Enough of Him

This National Theatre of Scotland and Pitlochry Festival theatre co-production tells the true story of Joseph Knight, an African man brought to Scotland as a slave, who challenged his status in court. Written by May Sumbwanyambe, it is part of Black History Month.
Pitlochry Festival theatre, 20-29 October.

Mrs Warren’s Profession

Real life mother-daughter duo Caroline Quentin and Rose Quentin will star in George Bernard Shaw’s provocative 1894 play about family and morality, banned for 30 years by the Lord Chamberlain after being deemed immoral and improper.
Theatre Royal Bath, 9-19 November. Then touring.

Best of Enemies

James Graham’s stupendous dramatisation of the televised political battles between William F Buckley Jr and Gore Vidal in 1968 was one of the most intelligent and exciting shows of 2021. Its West End transfer is an absolute must-see.
Venue and November opening to be announced.


The United Ukrainian Ballet: Giselle

A ballet company made up of Ukrainian refugee dancers who have escaped from the war, coming together in a new production of Giselle by world-leading choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. It’s a project full of hope and pride arising from a situation, like the story of Giselle itself, beset with tragedy and despair.
London Coliseum, 13-17 September.

Rambert: Peaky Blinders – The Redemption of Thomas Shelby

Hot on the heels of the immersive theatre version of Peaky Blinders comes a retelling in dance theatre from Rambert. Written by the TV show’s creator Steven Knight, it focuses on the love affair between Tommy Shelby and Grace Burgess and its explosive fallout.
Birmingham Hippodrome, 27 September-2 October. Then touring.

Lea Anderson: Shuffle

Cult choreographer Lea Anderson (The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs) continues to make leftfield dance. This one’s like landing in a club, with dancers demo-ing house, waacking and popping while the audience get to vote on what happens next. The tour includes a brand new dance venue in Bristol, converted church The Mount Without.
Rosehill theatre, Whitehaven, 30 September. Then touring.

Royal Ballet: New Crystal Pite

Expanded … Flight Pattern.
Expanded … Flight Pattern. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

A new full-length work expanded from Crystal Pite’s acclaimed Flight Pattern. The original one-act ballet brilliantly demonstrated the Canadian choreographer’s deft touch and sensitivity addressing real-world issues in a heart-tugging depiction of a refugee crisis, set to Gorecki’s haunting Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.
Royal Opera House, London, 18 October-3 November.

Oona Doherty: Navy Blue

One of the most exciting voices in dance right now, Irish choreographer Oona Doherty wowed with early works viscerally depicting male working-class stereotypes and Belfast culture. This UK premiere sounds more mysterious and unsettling, with 12 dancers, dread and darkness, and music by Rachmaninoff and Jamie xx.
Sadler’s Wells, London, 21-22 October.


Kim Noble

A new show from Kim Noble is an event for comedy and theatre-lovers alike. Are his multimedia bulletins from the wilder shores of loneliness and misery poetry a prank, or some kind of breakdown? Lullaby for Scavengers is billed as the third of a trilogy that began with the unforgettable Kim Noble Will Die.
Soho theatre, London, 15-24 September.

Isy Suttie

Six years after she last toured, the musical comic formerly known as Dobby from Channel 4’s Peep Show returns to the stage. On a tour that culminates in her hometown of Matlock, Derbyshire, Jackpot explores her thrill-seeking impulse, and how it’s survived middle age and motherhood.
The Stand, Newcastle, 20 September. Then touring.


No strangers to a successful comedy event, the team behind Greenwich Comedy festival and Brighton and Bristol’s Comedy Gardens now launch a standup knees-up for Manchester. For five nights in September, top talents including James Acaster, Phil Wang, Aisling Bea and Daniel Kitson feature.
Castlefield Bowl, Manchester, 21-25 September.

Poppy Jay and Rubina Pabani of Brown Girls Do It Too.
Sex clowns … Poppy Jay and Rubina Pabani of Brown Girls Do It Too. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer

Brown Girls Do It Too

The smash hit podcast, in which self-styled “sex clowns” Poppy Jay and Rubina Pabani lift the lid on the erotic lives of British Asian women, takes to the road. With sketches and songs promised, Mama Told Me Not to Come appears to be a fully fledged comedy show and no mere podcast transplanted to the stage.
Soho theatre, London, 18-22 October. Then touring.

Sara Pascoe

Some artists luxuriate in their success. We shouldn’t be surprised that Sara Pascoe, ever the anthropologist, wants to interrogate hers. Success Story, her first tour since 2018, asks: “How do we define success and when do we define it?” with reference to her own stellar TV career and her recent adventures in IVF and new parenthood.
Beck theatre, Hayes, 10 November. Then touring.