Ben Whishaw Bakkhai Almeida Theatre LondonCredit: Donmar Warehouse

London’s theatre lights have never been so bright. Here are SUITCASE’s top summer picks to tempt you away from the sun…

Hamlet - Barbican Theatre (Until the 31st October)

Following in the footsteps of some of the most revered actors of all time, Benedict Cumberbatch takes on the title role in the Bard’s greatest tragedy. Swapping Sherlock for Shakespeare, he’ll tread the boards of the Barbican stage for 12 weeks as the troubled protagonist forced to avenge his father’s death but paralysed by the task ahead; Hamlet rages against the impossibility of his predicament, threatening both his sanity and the security of his state.

Pre-sales of this 12-week run sold out in record-breaking time but, never fear, thirty £10 tickets will be sold for each performance on the day (visit hamlet.barbican.org.uk for more details). If you fail to snap these up, Hamlet will also be broadcast to cinemas on the 15th of October as part of National Theatre Live programme.

  • 020 7638 8891
  • Go to Website
  • Barbican Centre
    Silk Street
    London
    EC2Y 8DS

Bakkhai - Almeida Theatre (Until the 19th September)

Greek tragedies are currently Electra-fying London’s theatre scene. This year the Almeida Theatre launched their hotly-anticipated 2015 Greek season, of which Bakkhai is the second instalment. An adaptation of the The Bacchae by poet Anne Carson, its an invigorating and rather sexy tragedy which sees a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god.

Brideshead Revisited’s Ben Whishaw takes the lead in this hedonistic, visceral tragedy.

  • 020 7359 4404
  • Go to Website
  • Almeida Theatre
    Almeida Street
    London
    N1 1TA

Everyman - Olivier Stage at National Theatre (until the 30th August)

BAFTA winning Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) is Everyman: a successful, poplar and coke-snorting hedonist. On his 40th birthday, death comes calling. He’s forced to abandon the life he has built and embark on a frantic search to recruit a friend, anyone, to speak in his defence. But Death is close behind, and time is running out. Everyman asks whether it is only in death that we can understand our lives.

Everyman is Rufus Noris’ first show as Artistic Director of the National Theatre; if this seductive spectacle is anything to go by, the NT has an exciting few years ahead. Tickets are £20 advance and £15 on the day (visit the National’s box office). Or if you’re willing to stand, they’ll cost you a mere £5.

  • 020 7452 3000
  • Go to Website
  • National Theatre
    South Bank
    London
    SE1 9PX

Gypsy - Savoy Theatre (until the 28th November)

Critics are calling this revival of the classic 1959 American musical a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. Based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease and Burlesque artist, it tells the story of a pushy showbiz mother (Imelda Staunton) and the emotional abuse she inflicts on her two daughters as she forces them into the Vaudeville spotlight.

With lyrics by the musical god Stephen Sondheim, and the performance of a lifetime by Stuanton, if you have the slightest interest in musical theatre you must not miss Gypsy.

Splendour- Donmar Warehouse (until 26th September)

In the opulent drawing room of the Presidential Palace, a photographer awaits a soon-to-be deposed dictator. The dictator’s wife, her best friend and interpreter wait with her. Prada shoes, vodka glasses and light fingers tap out the time. He is late, very late…

On the other side of town, civil war rages. All four women harbour secrets and suspicions. All four women are in danger. Abi Morgan’s devastating play allows us a glimpse into the midst of four women as their world turns.

Performed by a stellar, all-female cast, including the RSC’s Sinead Cusack, Fresh Meat’s Zawe Ashton and Game of Throne’s Michelle Fairley, Splendour is set to be a tense, intelligent and unique piece of theatre. £10 front row tickets are available every monday two weeks before the performance.

  • 0844 871 7624
  • Go to Website
  • 41 Earlham Street
    Seven Dials
    London
    WC2H 9LX

Barbican Theatre

Almeida Theatre

Olivier Stage at National Theatre

Savoy Theatre

Donmar Warehouse

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