London Fall Theater Guide

The 11 plays to see this season.

Johan Persson
OF 12

September 5–November 21: Photograph 51

The last time Nicole Kidman trod the West End’s boards, Daily Telegraph critic Charles Spencer called her performance (and her nude backside) “pure theatrical Viagra.” “That’s a phrase that won’t be used this time,” says Michael Grandage, who directs Kidman in the London premiere of Anna Ziegler’s wry drama. The actress plays Rosalind Franklin, the crystallographer whose titular X-ray turned Francis Crick and James Watson on to the double-helix structure of DNA, yet whose role has long been consigned to the dustbin of history. As written by Ziegler, Franklin is a complex, no-nonsense character, neither victim nor feminist crusader. That toughness resonated with Kidman. “Rosalind is a fantastically unsentimental role, and that’s a big ask when you’re performing live in front of 900 people,” Grandage says. “But Nicole’s great strength is she’s unconcerned with simply being loved. To do justice to a strong female character in a male-dominated world still so recognizable today, she’s prepared to go to all sorts of colder, darker places.” Spencer's original misogyny aside, that’s pure theatrical Viagra. Noël Coward Theatre; 85-88 St Martin's Ln.; delfontmackintosh.co.uk. —Gabriella Fuller