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Jerusalem, Beckett and Bridget Christie: theatre, comedy and dance to book in 2021

Harriet Walter, Mandy Colleran, Naomi Wirthner and Mat Fraser feature in six online plays written by a new generation of D/deaf and disabled artists. Filmed on Zoom, they follow the success of a quirky original series by Graeae Theatre Company that was streamed during lockdown.
• graeae.org, 19 January-23 February

Lolita Chakrabarti’s play about masculinity and ambition stars Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani as two men who meet at a funeral, and whose lives as fathers, sons and brothers are illuminated through music and song. Blanche McIntyre returns to the Almeida, following her directorial success with The Writer.
• Almeida theatre, London, 29 January-27 February

Staged in the round in the Olivier theatre, this is Larry Kramer’s largely autobiographical play about the Aids epidemic in 1980s New York, which has not been professionally performed in London since its European premiere in 1986. It stars Ben Daniels as Ned Weeks, the firebrand gay founder of an Aids advocacy group, with cast members including Danny Lee Wynter, Daniel Monks and Stanley Townsend.
• National Theatre, London, February

Samuel Beckett’s play about a stoical woman almost entirely buried in a mound of earth may not sound like upbeat theatre but this 60th-anniversary production promises to be nothing less than sensational; it stars Lisa Dwan, a celebrated Beckett actor, and is directed by Trevor Nunn, who brought us a winning trio of the Irish playwright’s short plays last year, one of which, featuring Dwan’s haunting voice, stole the show.
• Riverside Studios, London, 16 February-28 March

Adura Onashile’s story revolves around a young 18th-century Glaswegian protagonist who takes us on a 500-year journey deep into the city’s slave-trading past. This drama is delivered as an immersive augmented reality experience on an app that aims to use music and visual effects in striking ways to explore the “myth of the collective amnesia of slavery and racialised wealth”.
• National Theatre of Scotland, Glasgow, 26 February-12 March

A satirical new play by the award-winning screenwriter Steven Moffat (Doctor Who and Sherlock). Its comedy of manners takes swipes at the value that the British middle-classes place on “niceness” and promises much barbed humour. Moffat’s longtime collaborator Mark Gatiss directs; the cast includes Reece Shearsmith, Amanda Abbington and Frances Barber.
• Chichester Festival theatre, dates to be confirmed

CP Taylor’s searing political drama, originally commissioned by the RSC in 1981, dramatises a friendship between a Jewish psychiatrist and a gentile professor in prewar Germany and shows how, over the years, Nazi ideology seduces a “good” man. Dominic Cooke has reimagined the play for our times in this revival that stars David Tennant and promises to be powerfully resonant.
• Harold Pinter theatre, London, 21 April-17 July

Noël Coward’s vitriolic study of the rich and reckless starred Coward himself, alongside Laurence Olivier, in its original staging. The story of divorcees Elyot and Amanda who find themselves on honeymoon with new partners in the same hotel, is the inaugural show for the Nigel Havers Theatre Company. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, Patricia Hodge plays Amanda alongside Havers as Elyot, whom Coward played in 1930.
• Theatre Royal Bath (followed by UK tour), 23 September-2 October

This new musical tells the story of Faye Treadwell, the trailblazing African American music manager who helped to turn the Drifters into a global sensation. Beverley Knight, after great acclaim for her performances in the musicals Sylvia, Cats and Memphis, plays Treadwell and the score is filled with one hit after another. Prepare to hum along.
• Newcastle Theatre Royal and then Garrick Theatre, London, 9 October-26 March 2022

Jez Butterworth’s play set the theatre world alight when it premiered in 2009. Regarded as a modern masterpiece, it is set to be revived at a West End venue with Mark Rylance reprising the role of Rooster Byron and Ian Rickson once again its director. We do not yet know exactly when or where but its producer, Sonia Friedman, is committed to staging it in 2021. It will indisputably be a highlight of the year, whenever it lands.
• Stage/date to be confirmed

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