THEATRE / Previews & First Nights

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The Independent Culture
KING LEAR IN NEW YORK

Premiere of Melvyn Bragg's first stage play, about an ageing actor about to tackle the role of Lear. Festival Theatre, Chichester (0243- 781312). Opens tonight.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

The French-Canadian director Robert Lepage directs an innovative production of Shakespeare's classic summer comedy. Olivier, National, London SE1 (071-928 2252). Now previewing; 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. A strong cast: Alec McCowen, Hugh Quarshie and Stephen Rea. Hampstead Theatre, London NW3 (071-722 9301). Now previewing; opens Friday.

THE TELEVISION PROGRAMME

Kim Dambaek directs the British premiere of a play by French playwright Michel Vinaver. Two television reporters become entangled in a murder case. Gate, London W11 (071-229 0706). Previews from tonight; opens Friday.

MURDER BY MISADVENTURE

Edward Taylor's thriller about a crime-writing duo whose lives are overtaken by the real thing. Vaudeville, London WC2 (071-836 9987). Previews from tonight; opens 13 July.

THE DYBBUK

New version by Mira Rafolowicz of the traditional Jewish tale about a young woman possessed by the spirit of her dead suitor. Directed by Katie Mitchell. Pit, Barbican, London EC2 (071-638 8891). Previews from tonight; opens 14 July.

SHADES

Pauline Collins takes the lead in Sharman Macdonald's play about family relationships in 1950s Scotland. Directed by Simon Callow. Albery, London WC2 (071-867 1115). Previews from tonight; opens 15 July.

THE LAST CARNIVAL

European premiere of a play by Derek Walcott (whose The Odyssey has just opened in Stratford). Set in Trinidad in 1970, it charts the eruption of revolution and its effects on an English governess. Birmingham Rep (021-236 4455). Previews from Friday; opens 14 July.

COLUMBUS

The RSC adds its voice to the Christopher Columbus discussions. Jonathan Hyde plays Columbus in Richard Nelson's new play. Barbican, London EC2 (071-638 8891). Previews from Friday; opens 22 July.

THE LLOYDS BANK THEATRE CHALLENGE

The annual showcase for productions by young companies, sponsored by Lloyds Bank and hosted by the Royal National Theatre. National Theatre, London SE1 (071-928 2252). Opens 14 July.

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