Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre, 14th January to 2nd May
From 1997’s The Weir to his recent play with songs by Bob Dylan, Girl From the North Country (revived at the Gielgud to 1st February), Conor McPherson has been a dab hand at tense atmospheres. Adapting Chekhov’s great play should suit him. Former Royal Court director Ian Rickson has assembled a crack cast led by Toby Jones as Vanya and Richard Armitage as Astrov, locked in smitten rivalry over the new young wife (Rosalind Eleazar) of the crusty old professor (Ciarán Hinds).
Swive [Elizabeth], Sam Wanamaker, Shakespeare’s Globe, 6th December to 15th February
The title of Ella Hickson’s new play about sex, power and politics at the court of the Virgin Queen is the Elizabethan equivalent of a more common Anglo-Saxon four-letter word. Elizabeth was the only unmarried woman to rule England, and did so for over four decades. Hickson and director Natalie Abrahami consider her virtues (or vices) as mastermind, survivor and seductress in the candlelit setting of the Globe’s indoors.
God of Carnage, Theatre Royal, Bath, 20th to 25th January, then touring
A welcome return for Yasmina Reza’s savage comedy, translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, about a middle-class bust-up between two couples whose 11-year-old boys have been stabbing each other with sticks. Elizabeth McGovern and Nigel Lindsay take the roles first played by Tamsin Greig and Ralph Fiennes. To say the fur flies is an understatement—and it’s hilarious. After Bath, the show rolls on to Glasgow, Cambridge and Kingston.