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The stage adaptation of a Neil Gaiman classic will be amongst 15 new shows playing at The National Theatre in 2019/2020.

The stage adaptation of a Neil Gaiman classic will be amongst 15 new shows playing at The National Theatre in 2019/2020.

Neil Gaiman stage adaptation announced amongst National Theatre season

Eleni Cashell

By Eleni Cashell First Published 13 June 2019, Last Updated 13 June 2019

Clear your diaries for the next few months, as The National Theatre have just announced 15 productions of new plays and fresh adaptations by leading writers.

The productions include a stage adaptation of a Neil Gaiman classic, a reimagining of a classic play by the Olivier and Tony Award-winning writer of Angels in America and Caroline, Or Change, as well as an immersive theatrical experience.

And the cast that’ll be joining the productions is just as exciting, with names including Maxine Peake, Arthur Darvill, Cecilia Noble, Rafe Spall, Niamh Cusack and Lesley Manville already on board.

Here’s everything you need to know about The National Theatre’s upcoming productions.

My Brilliant Friend

Parts One and Two

From 12 November 2019

Based on Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, My Brilliant Friend has already enjoyed success during its run at the Rose Theatre Kingston.

The original cast of this run, including Niamh Cusack and Catherine McCormack, return to tell this epic two-part story of love, violence, ambition and self-destruction.

The show is about Lenu Greco, a celebrated author who starts to recall an important 60-year relationship with her friend Lila, after she suddenly disappears. Beginning in the dangerous environment of post-war Naples, Lila and Lenu face social and political change together.

But even as life repeatedly tries to pull them in separate directions, they remain inextricably bound to one another.


Three Sisters

Three Sisters

From 2 December 2019

A reimagining of Chekhov’s well-known story, this adaptation of Three Sisters is set in Nigeria in the 1960s.

In the story, the three sisters (Lolo, Nne Chukwu and Udo) are living on the brink of the Biafran Civil War. As they grieve the death of their father, military coups and foreign intervention are at odds, descending their country into chaos. As the conflict arrives into their village, the sisters dream to leave and return to their former home in Lagos.

Cast includes Ronke Adekoluejo, Jude Akuwudike, Ken Nwosu, Racheal Ofori, Sule Rimi and Natalie Simpson.

Written by Inua Ellams (Barber Shop Chronicles), this heartbreaking story will be directed by Nadia Fall (Home, Dara).


Faith, Hope And Charity

9 September – 12 October 2019

A new play by Alexander Zeldin, the story is set in a run-down community hall on the edge of a town, where a woman is cooking lunch for those in need.  A choir is starting up, run by a volunteer who’s looking for a new beginning. A mother is seeking help in her fight to keep her young daughter from being taken into care. An older man sits silently in the corner, the first to arrive, the last to leave. Outside the rain is falling.

Cast includes Olivier Award nominee Cecilia Noble, Nick Holder, Dayo Koleosho, Susan Lynch, Bobby Stallwood, Hind Swareldahab and Alan Williams.

The culmination of a trilogy of shows, which focused on characters forced to the margins of society, this new show promises to get to the heart of uncertain times.

The Antipodes

21 October – 23 November 2019

Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who, Broadchurch), stars in this familiar and fantastical play which combines satire and sacred rite.

Written by  Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker, (The Flick), the story centres on a group of people, telling categorising and theorising stories, as they all sit around a table together. Their real purpose is never quite clear, but they continue on, searching for the monstrous.  As the narrative progresses, it starts to question the value of stories when the world is in crisis.

Cast also includes Matt Bardock, Imogen Doel, Hadley Fraser, Conleth Hill, Sinéad Matthews, Stuart McQuarrie and Bill Milner.


The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

3 December – 25 January 2020

Neil Gaiman fans, prepare yourselves, as one of his classic books is getting a stage adaptation.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is about the childhood truths that swim beneath our adult selves.

The story focuses on Alex, who returns to his childhood home. As he stands beside his beloved duck pond, he’s magically transported back to his 11th birthday, when his dad was financially struggling to keep the family together, and his close friend Lettie insists it wasn’t a pond, but an ocean. As they make their way in this new magical world, Alex and Lettie must together battle the darkness and ancient forces who threaten to destroy the world around them.

Cast includes Olivier Award nominee Josie Walker (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) and Samuel Blenkin (Harry Potter And The Cursed Child), with further casting to be announced.

A modern myth from the brilliant imagination of Neil Gaiman, creator of Good Omens, American Gods, Coraline, Stardust and the Sandman series. Adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, this adventure will excite, unsettle and thrill those brave enough to face its hidden depths.


The Welkin

Maxine Peake

January 2020

Maxine Peake returns to The National Theatre’s stage for the first time since 2002 to appear in The Welkin.

Set in rural Suffolk in the 1750s, Sally Poppy is sentenced to hang for murder. But when Sally claims she’s pregnant, 12 matrons are taken away from housework and become jury members, who must decide her fate. With only one midwife, Lizzy Luke (played by Maxine) on Sally’s side and ready to defend her, and a mob waiting to bring Sally to her death, who will succeed?

The cast also includes Natasha Cottriall, Cecilia Noble, Dawn Sievewright and Ria Zmitrowicz, with further cast to be announced.


The Visit

February 2020

Lesley Manville stars in this modern adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s blackly comic masterpiece about a wealthy woman who returns to her former hometown with a deal to make. In The Visit, Claire Zachanassian asks the people of her former hometown to kill the man who got her pregnant and then dumped her. If they do, she’ll give them money to help them rebuild the collapsing town.

Written by Olivier and Tony Award-winning writer, Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Caroline, Or Change), this version will be set in post-war America. Lesley will play the role of Claire Zachanassian, and will co-star alongside Richard Durden, Sara Kestelman, Joseph Mydell and Nicholas Woodeson.

Death Of England

February 2020

Starring Rafe Spall, this play explores the world through the lens of a working-class man searching for truth after his father dies.

A new play by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, this story originally started as a short film. Now directed by Clint, who’s making his National Theatre writing and directing debut, he’ll be the first Black British artist to have acted, written and directed at the National Theatre.


The Seven Streams Of The River Ota

March 2020

The Seven Streams Of The River Ota returns to the National Theatre where it first played in 1996, to mark 75 years since the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. The acclaimed seven-hour saga by Ex Machina, directed by Robert Lepage, is a giant theatrical journey through time and space.

In this new edition of his masterpiece, Lepage continues to explore how a few kilograms of uranium falling on Japan changed the course of human history and how the tragedies of the Holocaust and Hiroshima permeate the experience of not only the survivors but also their descendants.

As the play traces seven stories from 1945 to 1995, a common theme emerges: the quest for meaning and peace when facing death and horror. We encounter characters who embrace hope and sensuality and laugh in the face of adversity.


All Of Us

March 2020

Francesca Martinez makes her National Theatre debut with this show.

Exploring life and love during a time of austerity, Francesca plays the lead role of Jess in this powerful, timely and characterful comedy-drama. Jess has a job she loves, friends and a sense of humour. She needs one, because when the government come calling, the life she has built – she has had cerebral palsy since birth – comes under threat.



April 2020

Diana Stuckley and her daughter are struggling to keep the roof on their run-down manor house. As a violent storm sweeps the coast, neighbours and strangers begin to appear, seeking shelter from the floods. Among them are the leaders of a far-right organisation. Stranded together, this explosive mix of people must survive the weather and each other.

A new play by Moira Buffini, Nancy Carroll plays Diana with further casting to be announced. This darkly comic drama is directed by Fiona Buffini, reuniting the writer and director behind Dinner once more.


Welcome To Iran

Following its run at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, this new play is written and directed by Nadia Fall.

Ava is a twenty-something Londoner.  Following the death of her estranged father, she journeys to Iran in search of his past and her extended family. Exploring the rich culture and thriving art scene of this misunderstood country, Ava is swept into a world of raves, raids and illicit love, all whilst negotiating family politics, Tehran traffic and the morality police.

Based on real-life testimonials, Welcome To Iran offers a tender and witty snapshot of modern life in Iran.


All Kinds of Limbo

From 13 June 2020

In this unique, immersive show, singer Nubiya Brandon takes us on a journey through classical, grime, reggae and calypso music. A specially commissioned 10-minute piece of music will accompany, the life-sized, volumetrically captured Nubiya, who will play in two unique, immersive experiences.

The show has been inspired by both the influence of West Indian and black culture on the UK music scene, as well as the current production of Andrea Levy’s epic novel, Small Island.

All Kinds Of Limbo promises to be an intimate, immersive performance, where audiences use cutting-edge virtual reality and holographic technology to be part of the action.


Jack Absolute Flies Again

In the year of the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, this classic restoration comedy is relocated to World War II as Spitfires roar over the grounds of Malaprop Hall, now requisitioned by the RAF. By night pilot Jack Absolute flies out against the Luftwaffe, by day he tries to win the love of Air Transport Auxiliary Pilot Lydia Languish. That’s not an easy task, as principled Lydia demands to be loved on her own terms. The show is based on Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals, and will be directed by Olivier Award winner Thea Sharrock.

Jack Absolute Flies Again is written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris, who’s making his National Theatre playwriting debut with this show.



Lesley Sharp

A modern reimagining of Philoctetes by Sophocles, Kate Tempest makes her debut at The National with this production.

Starring Lesley Sharp in the lead role of Philoctetes, the story revolves around the epic rivalry between Odysseus and Philoctetes. Once friends, they became sworn enemies after Odysseus abandoned Philoctetes in battle. Now Odysseus is determined to get Philoctetes back on side so they can win the Trojan war.


Public booking opens for Faith, Hope and Charity, The Antipodes, My Brilliant Friend, The Ocean at the End of Lane and Three Sisters on Friday 5 July.


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All Kinds of Limbo All Of Us cecilia noble Death Of England faith hope and charity Jack Absolute Flies Again lesley manville manor maxine peake my brilliant friend neil gaiman Niamh Cusack paradise Rafe Spall the antipodes the national theatre The Ocean at the End of the Lane The Seven Streams Of The River Ota the visit The Welkin three sisters upcoming shows

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