Chichester Festival Theatre unveils its winter programme

70s sitcom The Good Life takes to the Chichester Festival Theatre stage this winter in a busy season which also includes Ayub Khan Din’s East Is East, alongside Noël Coward’s Private Lives and a brand-new comedy starring Penelope Keith.

The Good Life
The Good Life

Also among the familiar faces this winter will be Henry Goodman, Nigel Havers, Patricia Hodge, Rufus Hound, Omid Djalili, David Suchet, Rob Brydon and Issy van Randwyck.

The CFT is also offering a new home-grown production: the revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Award-winning Doubt: A Parable, directed by Lia Williams and starring Monica Dolan and Sam Spruell.

Comedy, music and literary evenings range from Omid Djalili and Russell Kane to An Evening Without Kate Bush and the BBC Concert Orchestra while seasonal favourites, the Christmas Concerts and Moscow City Ballet, return.

There’s also plenty of entertainment for families and youngsters, including new pop musical Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, Stick Man and Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s Pinocchio for Christmas.

Coming up:

East Is East, Festival Theatre, November 3-6. Ayub Khan Din’s comedy drama East Is East has sold out three London runs, been adapted into a BAFTA Award-winning film and become a modern classic. This 25th anniversary co-production from the National Theatre and Birmingham Rep comes to Chichester directly following its London run, directed by Iqbal Khan.

George Khan wants to raise his family the proper Pakistani way but hasn’t counted on the distractions of 70s Salford. Abdul and Tariq aren’t ready to be married off, Saleem is pushing artistic boundaries, Meenah’s skirt is too short and Sajid just wants to hide in his parka. Can mum Ella keep the family together? The cast is led by Tony Jayawardena (Ackley Bridge, The Crown, Bend It Like Beckham) as George and Sophie Stanton (best known to a wide TV audience as DCI Jill Marsden in EastEnders) as Ella.

Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers in Private Lives, Festival Theatre, November 16-20. Patricia Hodge – last seen at Chichester in Travels with My Aunt (2016) and Copenhagen (2018) – and Nigel Havers star in Noël Coward’s classic 1930 comedy Private Lives in a new production directed by Christopher Luscombe, whose work at Chichester includes Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing and Travels with My Aunt. Elyot and Amanda, who were once married, find themselves on honeymoon with their new partners, admiring the view from adjoining balconies in the same hotel on the French Riviera. Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they are sharing cocktails. Who knows what the future holds for them now…

Rufus Hound and Preeya Kalidas in The Good Life, Festival Theatre, November 30-December 4. Tom and Barbara Good, suburban eco-warriors, and their next-door status-conscious neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter are on stage for the first time in The Good Life, a theatrical reimagining of the TV sitcom that delighted countless millions. The cast includes actor, presenter and comedian Rufus Hound and Preeya Kalidas. Jeremy Sams’s new comedy is based on the television series by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey.

Christmas Concerts, Festival Theatre, December 6-11. Chichester Cathedral Choir, directed by Charles Harrison, and The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre: Pinocchio, Festival Theatre, December 18-January 1. Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s brand-new version of this classic tale by Anna Ledwich had just 15 live performances in 2020 before it was streamed globally during lockdown. Dale Rooks’s production now returns for Christmas 2021, with the revival directed by Bobby Brook.

Moscow City Ballet: The Nutcracker, Festival Theatre, January 5-9. The timeless story of Clara, who is whisked away on a fairy tale adventure by her Nutcracker Prince, is set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World, Festival Theatre, January 12-16. A “brand-new kickass-pirational pop musical” as the Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World take to the stage to tell their stories. Inquisitive heroine Jade breaks away from her class to take a peek behind the scenes at the not yet open Gallery of Greatness in the local museum...

Monica Dolan and Sam Spruell in Doubt: A Parable, Festival Theatre, January 22-February 5. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play, John Patrick Shanley’s celebrated work later became an Oscar-nominated film. St Nicholas Roman Catholic Church and School, the Bronx, New York, 1964. Sister Aloysius Beauvier, school principal, is driven by fierce conviction and moral certainty, unafraid of confrontation. Sister James, inspired by the joy of teaching, is devoted to her pupils. Impulsive, chaste and impressionable, she is eager to believe the best of everyone….

The Play What I Wrote, Festival Theatre, February 8-12. Hamish has written a play, an epic set in the French Revolution called A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple. Sean, on the other hand, wants to continue with their double act. He believes that if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Hamish’s confidence will be restored and the double act will go on. But first Sean needs to persuade a guest star to appear in the play what Hamish wrote...

Penelope Keith in Two Cigarettes In The Dark, Festival Theatre, February 17-26. Bright, witty and fiercely independent, Isabel is not ready to let go just yet. In a series of encounters with an old friend and her two sons, by turns funny, startling and poignant, home truths are exchanged, and her past begins to emerge. Stephen Wyatt’s new play is a bitter-sweet comedy about facing the end. It reunites Dame Penelope Keith with director Alan Strachan who also directed her in Entertaining Angels (2006), Mrs Pat (2015) and The Chalk Garden (2018) at Chichester

Private Peaceful, Festival Theatre, March 1-5. Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning book Private Peaceful was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award. The Peaceful brothers, Tommo and Charlie, have a tough rural childhood facing the loss of their father, financial hardship and a cruel landlord. Their fierce loyalty to each other pulls them through, until one day they both fall for the same girl. And then the Great War comes. Set against the epic backdrop of WW1, we join 18-year-old Private Tommo Peaceful in the trenches as he takes us on a journey through his most cherished memories and tells his story of courage, devotion, family and friendship.

Music, Performance and Comedy

Russell Kane And Friends, Festival Theatre, November 8.

David Suchet: Poirot and More, A Retrospective, Festival Theatre, November 9-10. For over 25 years, David Suchet has captivated millions worldwide as Agatha Christie’s elegant Belgian detective. Beyond Poirot, he has been celebrated for his portrayal of iconic roles such as Lady Bracknell, Cardinal Benelli and Freud.

Elégie, Festival Theatre, November 12. Concert pianist Lucy Parham returns to Chichester with Henry Goodman to chronicle the life of composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in words and music.

Rob Brydon: A Night of Songs and Laughter, Festival Theatre, November 14. Rob Brydon’s personal musical journey from South Wales to the West End and beyond, with hilarious tales from his distant and recent past.

Omid Djalili: The Good Times Tour, Festival Theatre, November 22. Fake News, Minerva Theatre, November 25-27. Written, performed and produced by Osman Baig, and a sell-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Fake News is the story of a young journalist who lands a dream internship at the country’s biggest news organisation where he stumbles on an earth-shattering exclusive…

BBC Concert Orchestra, Festival Theatre, November 26. An evening of classics and surprises, including Coleridge-Taylor’s Concert Suite and principal clarinettist Nicholas Carpenter’s concerto debut playing Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No 2.

Giles Brandreth and Susie Dent, Festival Theatre, November 28. Something Rhymes with Purple Live. Based on the Gold Award-winning podcast for Best Entertainment at the British Podcast Awards, Susie Dent and Giles Brandreth bring their love of words to the stage in a brand-new show.

An Evening Without Kate Bush, Minerva Theatre, December 1-3. Performer Sarah-Louise Young and theatre-maker Russell Lucas explore the music of one of British music’s most influential voices.


Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens:

Saturday, September 11 (online and by booking form only)

Monday, September 13 (phone and in person)

Groups and schools booking opens: Tuesday, September 14

Public booking opens:

Saturday, September 18 (online only)

Tuesday, September 21 (phone and in person)

Box office 01243 781312; online