There are already plenty of reasons why you might book tickets to see a show during your stay in London — award-winning talent, hard-hitting new writing and gorgeous historic theaters — but there’s even greater incentive to do so over the next few months thanks to the arrival of a clutch of major stars in the British capital. Here’s our round-up of the shows you just mustn’t miss.
The Master Builder
Harry Potter star Ralph Fiennes will be playing the eponymous lead in a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder at the Old Vic through March 19. The tragic drama, originally published by the Norwegian playwright in 1892, explores the arrival of country girl Hilde in the life of famed architect Halvard Solness, and its devastating results.
Fiennes, an accomplished stage actor alongside his work in movies such as Spectre, Schindler’s List and The English Patient, was last seen on the London stage in George Bernard Shaw’s Man & Superman at the National Theatre in 2015. Matthew Warchus, who took over the artistic directorship of the Old Vic in 2015 following the departure of Kevin Spacey, directs, while the adaptation is by acclaimed British playwright David Hare.
The End of Longing
Matthew Perry makes his playwriting debut in The End of Longing, a bittersweet comedy about four people in their early 40s bound together after a raucous night out in downtown Los Angeles. Perry appears in the The End of Longing (February 2 to May 14) along with British actors Christina Cole and Lloyd Owen, know from Sky TV’s Hex and The Bodyguard in the West End, respectively, and Broadway star Jennifer Mudge.
The world premiere of Perry’s play will be staged at the Playhouse Theatre by award-winning British director Lindsay Posner. Probably best known for his work on the plays of American writer David Mamet (Wag The Dog, Hannibal), Posner last directed the Friends star in the West End in Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago in 2003.
Another classic European play gets a starry refresh at the Trafalgar Studios this season, thanks to director Jamie Lloyd. He’ll be staging this contemporary version of Jean Genet’s psycho-drama The Maids (February 20 to May 21) with Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black, Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael and British TV name Zawe Ashton. Aduba and Ashton play two maids fantasizing about killing their boss (Carmichael), a story that Genet based loosely on the murder of a woman by her employees in France in 1933, 14 years before the play was first produced in Paris.
The show will be Aduba’s London stage debut, though the Emmy Award winner played a number of theater roles in the U.S. — including appearances on Broadway — prior to finding fame as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange is the New Black.