Hollywood star Jude Law returns to stage

Hollywood star Jude Law is returning to the West End stage to play a sailor who falls in love with a prostitute.

King Lear, Donmar Warehouse, London

He is the most exacting and pernickety of actors, Derek Jacobi, which means that his long-awaited Lear will never open the floodgates. But it is most beautifully spoken and detailed. It's also terribly polite.

First Night: King Lear, Donmar Warehouse, London

Jacobi's Lear is too calm, not enough storm

Passion, Donmar Warehouse, London<br/>Krapp's Last Tape, Duchess Theatre, London

Sondheim uncovers the pitfalls of youth and beauty, while Gambon shows age has its perks

Passion, Donmar Warehouse, London

Passion is the show that divides even Sondheim devotees. There are die-hard admirers who find the score – which instead of songs offers a nagging network of motifs and internal echoes – in singularly short supply of the eponymous commodity. Its gothic story has been dismissed as simultaneously distasteful and incredible. But Jamie Lloyd's Donmar revival of this rebarbative 1994 musical makes a compelling case for its power to unsettle and affront.

The Prince of Homburg, Donmar Warehouse, London

Heinrich von Kleist's The Prince of Homburg (1811) is one of those deeply ambiguous works that can be co-opted by diametrically opposed political factions. It's said to have been a favourite of Hitler's and insofar as it dramatises the triumph of Prussian military discipline over individual impulse, you can see why the Nazis were keen to appropriate it. But it is also a lethal indictment of this nascent ideology. It may sound a queer objection to complain that Hitler could never have been hoodwinked into approving of this new version by Dennis Kelly. But in equipping the play with a radically different conclusion, this distorting adaptation robs the Kleist original of its subtlety, symmetry, and enigmatic equipoise.

Soldier's story is still hitting the target

The Donmar's production of a play about a battlefield mistake rings horribly true, says Iraq veteran Colonel Tim Collins

The Late Middle Classes, Donmar Warehouse, London

The late Harold Pinter, who first directed the late Simon Gray's The Late Middle Classes, found it to be a rich and beautifully wrought piece of work that was "deeply satisfying" to direct. I see what he means but I do not share his certainty.

A late flowering for a great Britten

When Billy Budd opens Glyndebourne's season tomorrow it will bring the curtain down on an old feud, says Lynne Walker

Polar Bears, Donmar Warehouse, London<br/>Andersen's English, Hampstead Theatre, London<br/>Beyond the Horizon/Spring Storm, NT Cottesloe

In Mark Haddon's first foray into theatre, a manic depressive slips into a decline and takes her saviour down with her

Polar Bears, Donmar Warehouse, London

Mark Haddon made his name with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a novel about the break-up of a marriage as seen through the eyes of a teenager with Asperger's syndrome. When I heard that he had written Polar Bears, a play about the stresses of loving a female with a bipolar disorder, my first cynical reaction was to wonder whether he has started to collect disorders for creative exploitation across the art forms.

First Night: Polar Bears, Donmar Warehouse, London

Prize-winning author Mark Haddon's first stage play is about the difficulty of living with someone who has bipolar disorder. Does it work? <i>The Independent's</i> theatre critic Paul Taylor, himself a sufferer, is in two minds

Mark Haddon: The curious incident of the novelist turned playwright

Seven years after his debut novel announced the arrival of a distinct literary voice, Mark Haddon is preparing to take on the theatre

An Enemy of the People, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield<br/>A Midsummer Night's Dream, Rose Theatre, Kingston<br/>Serenading Louie, Donmar Warehouse, London

The new regime at the revamped Crucible gets off to a flying start with scorchingly relevant Ibsen
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there