National Theatre summer season with leading actors from stage and screen

National Theatre
  • NT Associate Simon Godwin returns to the NT to direct Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the Lyttelton theatre with John Heffernan as Benedick and Katherine Parkinson as Beatrice 
  • Laurie Davidson, Kelvin Fletcher, Caroline Quentin and Natalie Simpson lead the cast of Jack Absolute Flies Again a new comedy by Richard Bean and Oliver Chris, directed by Emily Burns in the Olivier theatre 
  • Writer and comedian Francesca Martinez brings her debut play All of Us to the Dorfman theatre, directed by Ian Rickson  
  • Samira Wiley makes her NT debut as Angel Allen alongside Giles Terera as Guy Jacobs in Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky directed by Lynette Linton opening in the Lyttelton theatre in September

The National Theatre today announces new productions for all three South Bank stages this summer: Jack Absolute Flies Again in the Olivier theatre, Much Ado About Nothing in the Lyttelton theatre and All of Us in the Dorfman theatre with tickets on sale to the public from Thursday 10 March.  

Jack Absolute Flies Again a riotous and comedic new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals, co-written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Emma), will play in the Olivier theatre in July. Originally due to open in April 2020, Emily Burns (The Comeback) will direct Laurie Davidson (Cats) as Jack Absolute alongside Caroline Quentin (Jonathan Creek) as Mrs Malaprop, Natalie Simpson (Three Sisters) as Lydia Languish, Kelvin Fletcher (Emmerdale) as Dudley Scunthorpe and Kerry Howard (Him & Her) as Lucy, James Corrigan, Theo Cowan, Jordan Metcalfe, George Kemp, Akshay Sharan, Tim Steed, Geoffrey Towers, Shona White and Helena Wilson also join the company.  

Set and costume design is by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Tim Lutkin, composer is Paul Englishby, sound design by Paul Arditti and video and projection design by Jeff Sugg. Physical comedy director is Toby Park and choreography is by Lizzi Gee. Staff director is Cara Nolan.  

Simon Godwin (Romeo & Juliet) will return to the Lyttelton theatre to direct Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in July. Set in the Italian Riviera at the fictional Hotel Messina, Katherine Parkinson (Home, I’m Darling) will play Beatrice with John Heffernan (The Pursuit of Love) as Benedick in Shakespeare’s timeless romantic comedy. With set design by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Evie Gurney and lighting design by Lucy Carter. Composer is Michael Bruce and sound design by Christopher Shutt. Staff Director is Hannah Joss.  

Award-winning writer and comedian Francesca Martinez will make her NT debut with her new play All of Us, directed by Ian Rickson. A powerful and timely drama that explores the human cost of abandoning those who struggle to fit in, the play was postponed due to Covid-19 and will now open in the Dorfman this July.  

The cast is led by Francesca Martinez alongside Chris Anderson, Oliver Alvin-Wilson, Bryan Dick, Kevin Hely, Christopher-John Slater, Francesca Mills and Wanda Opalinska. Set and costume design is by Georgia Lowe, lighting design by Anna Watson, movement direction by Lucy Cullingford. The composer is Stephen Warbeck, sound design by Gregory Clarke and fight director is Terry King. Staff Director is Hana Pascal Keegan

Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, Lynette Linton makes her National Theatre debut with a new production of Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky in the Lyttelton theatre from September. This startling play set in 1930 during the Harlem renaissance, is about four friends whose lives and passions collide when a newcomer from Alabama arrives. Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange is the New Black) performs the role of Angel Allen with Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo (Three Sisters) as Delia Patterson, Osy Ikhile (Sweat) as Leland Cunningham, Sule Rimi (Barber Shop Chronicles) as Sam Thomas and Giles Terera (Death of England: Face to Face) performing the role of Guy Jacobs.  

Set and costume design by Frankie Bradshaw, lighting designer is Oli Fenwick, movement director is Kane Husbands, composer is Ben Kwasi Burrell, sound designer is George Dennis and Staff Director TD Moyo. Tickets for Blues for an Alabama Sky will go on sale in May. 

National Theatre Live 

Following the success of Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt broadcast to 40,000 people around the world on 27 January, NT Live continues with Henry V broadcast from the Donmar Warehouse on 21 April and Straight Line Crazy, a new play by David Hare, from the Bridge Theatre on 26 May.  

National Theatre Collection 

With 75% of all UK state secondary schools now signed up to the National Theatre Collection, ten additional productions will be available to schools, colleges and educational establishments from 24th February in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing and ProQuest. These ten new productions will complete the second Collection, making a total of 50 titles available to the education sector worldwide.  

The new titles include the multi-award-winning new staging of Tony Kushner’s two-part play Angels in America starring Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Denise Gough, Russell Tovey and James McArdle, award-winning one-woman play Chewing Gum Dreams written and performed by Michaela Coel and award-winning original film Romeo & Juliet directed by Simon Godwin with Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor as the star-crossed lovers.  

Free for UK state-funded schools and FE colleges, the NT Collection celebrates the best of British theatre and provides access to high-quality recordings of world-class productions from the NT and other leading UK theatres. The NT Collection is also available via subscription to education providers worldwide and is used in schools and colleges in 57 countries.   

West End and On Tour 

The National Theatre’s acclaimed production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane continues in London’s West End until 14 May. The first major stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s work, this fantasy novel is brought to life in an adaptation by Joel Horwood, directed by Katy Rudd.  

The internationally acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, continues on a 10th anniversary tour of the UK and Ireland this spring. 


Following an acclaimed Broadway run, The Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini and adapted by Ben Power, tours to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles this spring.  Sam Mendes directs Simon Russell BealeAdam Godley and Howard W. Overshown who play the Lehman Brothers, their sons and grandsons. A co-production with Neal Street Productions.