theatre HIGHLIGHTS THIS AUTUMN eight of the best

THE TEMPEST

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

Ralph Fiennes, soon to be starring in his own film version of Shakespeare's play Coriolanus, takes on the iconic role of Prospero in this must-see production (see right). It's the first major London staging of the Bard's mysterious final play in years, and also happens to offer the prospect of Rodney Trotter himself, Nicholas Lyndhurst, getting to grips with iambic pentameter.

DECADE

St Katharine Docks

Rupert Goold, the visionary director of shows including Patrick Stewart's Macbeth and 2009's multi-media topical hit Enron, brings his skills to St Katharine Docks in a site-specific work investigating the legacy of 9/11 ten years on. Abi Morgan and Simon Schama are among the writers involved in a show which transforms a former trading hall into an immersive theatrical experience.

THE KITCHEN

National Theatre

Arnold Whesker's play, which premiered at the Royal Court in 1959, is set in the furiously busy world of the kitchen of a huge West End restaurant. The kitchen, of course, is a microcosm of society at large, where different nationalities, creeds, social classes and ages are flung together, and where the pace of the workplace and a person's personal dreams and ambitions are in constant tension.

BROKEN GLASS

Vaudeville Theatre

An intriguing proposition by Arthur Miller, transferring from the Tricycle Theatre. It stars two of our finest actors, Antony Sher and Tara Fitzgerald, as a married Jewish couple living in New York in 1938. When Sylvia suddenly finds herself paralysed after reading about the events of Kristallnacht, her husband approaches a doctor who believes her paralysis is psychosomatic.

ROCK OF AGES

Shaftesbury Theatre

Surely this is the result of a bet that went badly wrong? Hirsute West Country TV bloke Justin Lee Collins and former X Factor winner Shayne Ward star in a musical that taps into the current, Glee-fuelled vogue for 80s power anthems. Expect spandex, big hair, and songs including the Final Count Down and, of course, Don't Stop Believin'.

THE VEIL

National Theatre

The new work from Conor McPherson, the brilliant Irish author of lauded plays including the Weir and the Seafarer. Set in starving rural Ireland in the early 19th century, it tells the story of a haunted house and a defrocked priest who conducts a disastrous seance to help the troubled young girl he has come to usher to England.

DRIVING MISS DAISY

Wyndham's Theatre

James Earl Jones, recently seen on the London stage in Tennessee Willams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, stars opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the play about a prickly Jewish widow in 1950s Atlanta and the bond she forms with her African American chauffeur. Bring hankies.

COOL HAND LUKE

TV actor Marc Warren plays the title role in this stage adaptation of the film which gave Paul Newman his greatest role. A tough old story of a rebellious war veteran turned convict who inspires his fellow lags by his refusal to be broken by the system. Warren is a highly engaging actor on screen; whether he can match the magnetism Newman brought to the role of Luke remains to be seen.