The National Theatre reopens its doors in June, following the relaxation of government Covid restrictions. The first productions to be staged are Dylan Thomas’ Welsh classic Under Milk Wood, starring Michael Sheen, at the Olivier Theatre, and After Life at the Dorfman.

Like all theatres in the capital, the National Theatre has been closed since December, but come June it will start staging performances again albeit in theatres transformed to the new normal. The capacity of the Olivier Theatre has been reduced to around 500, while the Dorfman will hold 120, as measures have been introduced to ensure the safety and comfort of customers.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, says, “It’s been an incredibly difficult year for theatre, but I’m delighted to be able to confirm our reopening plans … and to be sharing the news of our first two productions that will reopen the National Theatre in June.”

Under Milk Wood at Olivier Theatre

Under Milk Wood directed by Lyndsey Turner, with material by Siân Owen, will open on 16 June. The cast includes Michael Sheen, Karl Johnson, Siân Phillips and Cleo Sylvestre.

“In our transformed Olivier theatre, Lyndsey Turner will share her new staging of Dylan Thomas’s masterful Under Milk Wood with Michael Sheen joining the company,” says Norris.

After Life at the Dorfman

NT After Life_CreditSimonPais
NT After Life, credit Simon Pais

The Dorfman theatre reopens earlier in the month (2 June) with After Life by Jack Thorne, directed by Jeremy Herrin.

Based on the film by Hirokazu Kore-eda, the co-production with award-winning theatre company Headlong was delayed due to Covid. The theatre has stood empty since February 2020.

A Socially-distanced Audience

“Both shows will play to socially-distanced audiences and we look forward with cautious optimism to welcoming back larger audiences across our theatres soon,” says Norris.

“The magic of live theatre is what we can now begin to look towards: to creating work with our freelance artists and colleagues, to supporting young people’s creativity, and to bringing joy to audiences and communities through imaginative and inspiring live performance.”

Both Under Milk Wood and After Life will run to 24 July, with socially-distanced seating throughout.

Tickets for Performances at National Theatre

A number of tickets will be reduced. There will be more than 200 tickets for Under Milk Wood for £20, while almost half of the tickets for After Life will also cost £20. Tickets can be bought as singles, or in two to four as bubbles. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit