My Brilliant Friend, National Theatre, 12th November to 22nd February 2020
The four popular Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante have been adapted by April De Angelis to make five hours of drama in two separate plays. Covering a 60-year span from the end of the last war to the near present, the story of the friendship of Lena and Lila (played by Niamh Cusack and Catherine McCormack) takes in tales of love and violence in a volatile community. Melly Still’s production aims to fill the Olivier stage with 12 actors, puppetry, furniture and silhouettes.
The Arrival, Bush Theatre, 21st November to 18th January 2020
This is a different kind of domestic drama by the talented director and former National Theatre associate Bijan Sheibani. Sheibani’s first play has at its centre a mirror-image friendship. When Tom meets Shamad, it is as though he has come face to face with himself at last. Liverpudlian Sheibani, of Iranian extraction, will no doubt stir cultural issues into the pot at a theatre that—more than any other in London—explores our diverse society.
The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 8th November to 8th March
Comedian David Walliams’s bestseller for children about a boy who loves football and fashion has been snapped up by the Royal Shakespeare Company as a possible musical theatre smash hit in the wake of the West End’s Billy Elliot and their own Matilda. Playwright Mark Ravenhill writes the script, Robbie Williams and his writing partner Guy Chambers provide the songs, RSC supremo Gregory Doran directs, Rufus Hound plays Dad.