8 brilliant new London theatre shows to book tickets for this autumn
When it comes to securing tickets to the best new London theatre shows, it’s crucial to book ahead – which is why you need to know about this autumn’s hottest plays now. Whether you’re keen to see stars like David Tennant, Juliet Stevenson and Helen Hunt tread the boards, fancy losing yourself in an Ibsen revival or want to tap your toes along to a Tony Award-winning musical, this season has it all. Here we’ve rounded up the must-see shows to book tickets for this autumn.
Who Killed My Father
7 – 24 September
It’s been a bumper year for visionary Belgian director Ivo van Hove: following on from the success of the one-woman-show he staged with Ruth Wilson, The Human Voice, at the Harold Pinter Theatre in March, he’s back with the UK premiere of his adaptation of the French literary phenomenon Édouard Louis’s book, Who Killed My Father. Starring the great Dutch actor Hans Kestin – a regular van Hove collaborator – it paints a tender portrait of the author’s father after he witnesses his shocking decline due to heavy drinking and a lifetime of industrial toil in northern France.
6 September – 31 October
The Old Vic is getting a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust this autumn courtesy of Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt, who’s starring in the London premiere of Jonathan Spector’s Eureka Day. Set in 2017 at a progressive school in Berkeley, California, the play follows five board members as they update their school policies. But when a mumps outbreak threatens the local community, it quickly becomes apparent that the school’s traditions of tolerance and togetherness are no match for a public health scare. Tackling the issue of vaccinations in modern-day America, this feels like a particularly timely watch right now.
14 September – 5 November
London hasn’t seen a proper revival of Arthur Miller’s seminal drama about the Salem witch trials since 2014, so we’re excited to see the National Theatre taking on the challenge. Billed as an ‘urgent new staging’ that will be directed by West End favourite Lyndsey Turner, Australian actor Brendan Cowell plays the troubled hero John Procter, while Erin Doherty (who you’ll recognise as Princess Anne in The Crown) tackles the role of Abigail, the ‘possessed’ young woman calling out witchcraft in the small Massachusetts town. This one is sure to have you gripped from beginning to end.
The Band’s Visit
24 September – 3 December
Few new musicals have made as much of a splash as The Band’s Visit, which secured a staggering ten Tony awards when it debuted in 2018. After conquering Broadway, the show is now making its hotly-anticipated UK premiere, with the tiny Donmar Warehouse scoring quite a coup to stage it. Adapted from a 2007 Israeli independent film, it follows a band of Egyptian musicians who cross the border to play for an Arab-Israeli audience before getting lost and winding up in a quiet desert town. As they wait for the next bus out, they unexpectedly bring the town to life in surprising ways. A heart-warming, life-affirming watch.
John Gabriel Borkman
24 September – 26 November
Following on from much-lauded shows starring Ralph Fiennes and Alex Jennings earlier this year, the Bridge Theatre unveils another formidable leading man in the form of Simon Russell Beale, who returns to the stage to reprise the role of bankrupt and disgraced businessman John Gabriel Borkman in this Henrik Ibsen classic. Directed by Nicholas Hytner and co-starring Claire Higgins as Borkman’s estranged wife and Lia Williams as her sister, who arrives unannounced and triggers a desperate showdown with the past, the show was first announced back in 2019 before being scuppered by the pandemic – we’re pretty certain it will have been worth the wait.
Iphigenia in Splott
26 September – 22 October
Following on from a smash-hit season at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre and later the National Theatre, Gary Owen’s critically acclaimed and powerful monodrama returns to the London stage at the Lyric Hammersmith. Inspired by the Greek myth, Sophie Melville reprises her role as Effie, a walking mess of drink, drugs and drama who’s described as “the kind of girl you avoid making eye contact with” – until one night gives her the chance to be something more. Melville’s sensational performance in the show’s original run won her The Stage Award for Acting Excellence and an Evening Standard Award nomination for Best Actress, with The Guardian hailing it as a “perfect whirlwind of aggression, seduction, violence and pity”.
Duke of York’s Theatre
29 September – 11 December
Robert Icke’s final show as Almeida associate director was met with a sold-out run and five-star reviews when it was first staged in 2019, and this autumn it transfers to the West End. Olivier Award-winner Juliet Stevenson steps into the shoes of ‘The Doctor’ once again, playing Ruth Wolff, a white female senior clinician who refuses to allow a Catholic priest to see a 14-year-old girl who’s dying after a botched abortion. Based loosely on Arthur Schnitzler’s Professor Bernhardi, the play starts out by examining issues of medical ethics before weighing in on a whole host of subjects, from identity and politics to media witch hunts. Provocative and thought-provoking, it feels like important viewing for our times.
Harold Pinter Theatre
6 October – 24 December
Over recent years, David Tennant has carved out a niche for himself playing complex antiheroes, and his latest West End turn in Dominic Cooke’s revival of CP Taylor’s 1982 play Good is no exception. Tennant takes on the role of John Halder, a well-meaning and morally decent German professor with a Jewish best friend, Maurice, during the Second World War. As he slowly internalises and accepts the ideology of the Third Reich, Halder finds himself pulled into a movement with unthinkable consequences. As with all of his recent performances, this is set to be another devastatingly brilliant turn from the Scottish actor.