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The best (non-festive) shows to book this Christmas from Stranger Things to David Tennant's Macbeth

 (ES)
(ES)

For those who don't want to see another Scrooge on stage, pantomime is behind you and you just can't face another theatre trip aimed at the under fives, then fear not, we have you covered with our pick of the best resolutely un-Christmassy shows to enjoy this December...

The Witches at the National Theatre

 (Marc Brenner)
(Marc Brenner)

This adaptation of Roald Dahl's story about a coven of witches plotting to turn the world's children into mice is an absolute triumph, and deserves to follow Matilda’s footsteps into the West End. Starring Katherine Kingsley and Daniel Rigby, as well as some prodigiously talented kids, this is a must see.

To January 27; nationaltheatre.org

The Homecoming at the Young Vic

 (Manuel Harlan)
(Manuel Harlan)

No panto, no Pinter runs the old adage about the importance of pantomime to supporting the rest of theatre’s programming. Well this festive season we have panto AND Pinter with Matthew Dunster’s revival of The Homecoming starring Jared Harris and Peaky Blinders’Joe Cole. Christmassy? No. Compelling? Definitely

To January 27; buy tickets here

The Motive and the Cue at the Noel Coward Theatre

 (Mark Douet)
(Mark Douet)

This show is a glorious love letter to theatre. Directed by Sam Mendes and written by Jack Thorne, it is about a famed production of Hamlet on Broadway, directed by John Gielgud with Richard Burton in the starring role. It recently won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play for it's run at the National Theatre, so it’s great that many more will have a chance to experience the great performances from Mark Gatiss, Johnny Flynn and Tuppence Middleton in the West End.

To March 23, buy tickets here

My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Theatre

 (Manuel Harlan)
(Manuel Harlan)

This award-winning adaptation of the Studio Ghibli classic animation broke box office records when it opened at the Barbican earlier this year. Now Phelim McDermott’s production is back so disappointed punters who missed it first time round have another chance to catch this extraordinary theatrical experience.

To March 23; buy tickets here

Pandemonium at Soho Theatre

The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci is back on home turf – once again taking aim at the venal world of politics. Pandemonium is a new work satirising the Johnson-Truss-Sunak years, “told at a furious pace in all their horrible glory” and directed by Patrick Marber.

From December 1 to January 13; sohotheatre.com

Cold War at the Almeida Theatre

Conor McPherson adapts Pawel Pawlikowski’s Oscar-nominated film set in communist-controlled Poland, with new songs by Elvis Costello. This is an epic love story that spans decades and coutnrys and stars Anya Chalotra, Luke Thallon and Elliot Levey.

To January 27; almeida.co.uk

Rock ‘N’ Roll at Hampstead Theatre

This play is also set against the backdrop of a communist country, this time Czechoslovakia in 1968 as the Russian tanks come rolling in. It's a story of generational change, shifting geo-politics and the love of rock 'n' roll. Written by Tom Stoppard, the play first premiered in 2006, and Stoppard has talked of his delight that a play that means so much to him is coming back.

To January 27, book tickets here

Ulster American at Riverside Studios

The Riverside has pulled off quite a casting coup here with Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis and Derry Girls’ Louisa Harland set to light up its stage. Written by David Ireland – whose work includes Cyprus Avenue and recent Sky show The Lovers – Ulster American is a caustic comedy about cultural identity, power dynamics and the perils of being a woman in the entertainment industry. Can't wait.

To January 28; book tickets here

Stranger Things: The First Shadow at the Phoenix Theatre

 (Manuel Harlan)
(Manuel Harlan)

The blockbuster opening of the month is this prequel to the ridiculously popular Netflix show. Set in the small town of Hawkins in 1959 – “before the world turned upside down” – it finds some of the much-loved characters in their youth, and when a new student arrives, theshadows of the past arrive too.

Booking to August 25; buy tickets here

Macbeth at the Donmar Warehouse

Shortly before Ralf Fiennes and Indira Varma’s Macbeth arrives in London, David Tennant and Cush Jumbo are playing the power-hungry couple stepped in blood so far. In a twist, this production uses “binaural sound” with audiences wearing headphones to placethem in the minds of the Macbeths.

To February 10; donmarwarehouse.com