THEATRE / Previews & First Nights

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The Independent Culture
THE WINTER'S TALE

Adrian Noble directs. John Nettles plays Leontes and Gemma Jones is Paulina. Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford- upon-Avon (0789-295623). Opens tonight.

FIERCE LOVE

Pomo Afro Homos with a portrait of the black gay male experience. Drill Hall, London WC1 (071-637 8270). Opens tonight.

THE ODYSSEY

A new play by the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott, telling the tales from Homer's epic poem about the voyages of Odysseus. The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon (0789-295623). Previews; opens tomorrow.

SOMEONE WHO'LL WATCH

OVER ME

Premiere of Frank McGuinness's new play, which focuses on three men - an Englishman, an Irishman and an American - held hostage in a cell in Beirut. With Alec McCowen, Hugh Quarshie and Stephen Rea. Hampstead Theatre, London NW3 (071-722 9301). Previews from 4 July; opens 10 July.

GRAND HOTEL

The British premiere of the award-winning Broadway musical about a group of cultural misfits in a hotel in Weimar Berlin. Directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune. Dominion, London W1 (071-580 9562). Previews; opens 6 July.

KING LEAR IN NEW YORK

Premiere of Melvyn Bragg's first stage play, which takes the King Lear story and mirrors aspects of it in the life of an actor about to tackle the role of Lear. Festival Theatre, Chichester (0243-781312). Previews from tonight; opens 8 July.

COLUMBUS: BLOODING THE OCEAN

The Traverse Theatre opens the doors to its new, custom-built theatre with the premiere of a play by Michele Celeste, which presents an alternative view of Columbus's historic voyage, showing him struggling back across the ocean with a grimly loaded ship. Traverse, Edinburgh (031-228 1404). Previews; Opens 3 July.

ME AND MY FRIEND

Gillian Plowman's moving, funny play about a group of adults in a half-way house. Chichester Festival Theatre Studio (0243-781312). Previews; opens 3 July.

UNA POOKA

The British premiere of Michael Harding's black comedy, set in Ireland on the eve of Pope John Paul's visit. Tricycle, London NW6 (071-328 1000). Previews from tomorrow; opens 6 July.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

French-Canadian director Robert Lepage directs British actors in a classic. Olivier, National, London SE1 (071-928 2252). Previews from 3 July; opens 9 July.

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