After the recent struggles that the industry has suffered, we couldn’t be happier to see the theatre world back to its best, with a jam-packed schedule of shows for the spring season. Plenty of big names have already signed up to take part, from Kit Harington returning to the stage as Henry V to West End debuts for Amy Adams and Jodie Comer. Whether you’re after Shakespearean classics, post-Broadway hits or spellbinding immersive experiences, there’s something for everyone this season. Here, we’ve rounded up our pick of the new London theatre shows not to be missed.
New London Theatre Shows
The Old Vic
24 January – 19 March 2022
Last year, celebrated British playwright Caryl Churchill presented a brand-new play, What If If Only, at the Royal Court, the 83-year-old’s 45th to date. Now the Old Vic is staging a revival of the prolific writer’s most accessible work, A Number. Directed by the Olivier Award-winning Lyndsey Turner, best known for her version of Hamlet at the Barbican with Benedict Cumberbatch, the play explores the moral and emotional implications of cloning. The Walking Dead’s Lennie James and I May Destroy You’s Paapa Essiedu tackle the roles of father and son in this gripping drama, which offers a closer look at what it really takes to start again.
Harold Pinter Theatre
3 February – 12 March 2022
Following a sold-out season at the Playhouse Theatre in 2019, Scottish actor James McAvoy is back to reprise his much-lauded role in The Jamie Lloyd Company’s Olivier award-winning production of Cyrano De Bergerac. It’s a thoroughly modern take on the 1897 French classic, where the script’s original rhyming couplets have been replaced with rhythmic rap. McAvoy plays the titular de Bergerac, the soldier and poet with a comically large nose who finds himself in a complicated love triangle with his beautiful cousin Roxane (Evelyn Miller) and fellow soldier Christian (Eben Figueiredo). This is a joyful reworking that often breaks with convention – McAvoy wears no prosthetics for the role and the fourth wall is consistently broken, with characters addressing their lines to the audience rather than their fellow characters – and the show is all the more compelling for it.
3 February – 19 March 2022
Emma Rice’s whimsical Bristol-based company Wise Children returns to London with this revival of Emily Brontë’s epic story of love, revenge and redemption, which promises to be just as eclectic and eccentric as Rice’s previous hits. Set on the wild moors of Yorkshire and following the tale of the two passion-filled protagonists who are forced to hide their love for each other, performance artist Lucy McCormick tackles the role of wild-hearted Catherine, while Ash Hunter plays the brooding Heathcliff. Having been delayed a couple of years by the pandemic, audiences can expect Rice’s signature use of music and dance to bring this powerful story to life, while adding a contemporary twist to the classic masterpiece.
12 February – 9 April 2022
As part of the Donmar’s reopening season following an extensive renovation, Games of Thrones star Kit Harington returns to the London stage as Shakespeare’s martial king in this modern-day retelling of the Bard’s famous history play. Helmed by the theatre’s Associate Director, Max Webster, the play charts Henry V’s surprise victory over the French army at Agincourt, with the production exploring what it means to be English and our relationship to Europe – a topic that feels particularly timely in a post-Brexit world. Given the Donmar’s rather petite stature, with just 251 seats, and Harington’s mega-watt star power, you’ll have to act fast to nab a ticket, with the two-month run almost completely sold out already.
16 February – 2 April 2022
Hot on the heels of his captivating turn as the Duke of Argyll in the BBC’s A Very British Scandal, Paul Bettany returns to the stage for the world premiere of New Zealand playwright Anthony McCarten’s new play at the Young Vic. Led by the theatre’s Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, The Collaboration is set in New York in the mid-80s, when a 56-year-old Andy Warhol’s star is falling, just as art wunderkind Jean-Michel Basquiat’s is rising. Bettany plays Warhol and acclaimed Broadway actor Jeremy Pope takes on the role of the magnetic Basquiat, as the pair agree to collaborate on a new exhibition together – swiftly hailed as the ‘greatest exhibition in the history of modern art’ – in this compelling study of artistic rivalry.
The Ambassadors Theatre
5 March – 4 June 2022
Mike Bartlett’s provocatively named Olivier-winning play – widely considered his breakthrough work – finally gets its West End debut a mere 13 years after the 2009 original, which opened at the tiny Royal Court Upstairs and starred the then relatively unknown Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott and Katherine Parkinson. Now the razor-sharp show – a satirical four-hander about a gay man named John struggling to choose between his long-term male partner and a woman he has fallen for – is back with a no less stellar cast, with Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey playing John and Golden Globe winner Taron Egerton as his unnamed partner (in what also happens to be his West End debut). Rising star Jade Anouka and Quadrophenia’s Phil Daniels complete the cast, with the production helmed by top British director Marianne Elliott – an almost guaranteed recipe for success.
The Gielgud Theatre
10 March – 13 August 2022
While Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s courtroom classic may have originally been mired in controversy, following legal wrangles and suggestions that the new version deviated too much from the original book, audiences are clamouring to see the Broadway smash hit (which has proved to be one of the most successful American plays in history) now that it’s finally coming to the West End. Rafe Spall plays Atticus Finch, with Bartlett Sher, who directed the Broadway production, taking the reins once again. Sorkin has updated the much-loved classic for the modern day, with The New York Times hailing it as a ‘Mockingbird for our moment’ – expect a dynamic, fast-moving courtroom drama that examines themes of racism and poverty in American society.
The Bridge Theatre
16 March – 18 June 2022
Ralph Fiennes can do no wrong when it comes to theatre, even managing to turn a one-man dramatic rendition of T.S. Eliot’s final poem, Four Quartets, into a must-watch event. Now he’s reuniting with playwright David Hare and director Nicholas Hytner (the trio last collaborated on Beat the Devil, Hare’s harrowing account of his experience surviving Covid) to present the world premiere of Hare’s latest play, Straight Line Crazy, at the Bridge. Fiennes plays Robert Moses, Manhattan’s ‘master builder’ of the mid-20th century, who spent 40 years as one of the most powerful figures in the state, despite never being elected to office. The play explores the shortcomings of democracy and the polarising – albeit highly influential – figure of Moses.
Harold Pinter Theatre
17 March – 9 April 2022
Ruth Wilson first collaborated with the visionary Belgian director Ivo van Hove in 2016 on the latter’s much-lauded modern revival of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, which earnt Wilson a Best Actress Olivier nomination for her performance in the leading role. Now the duo is teaming up once again on an adaptation of French writer Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice, which is running for just 31 shows this spring. The play tells the story of a woman’s heartbreak over her former lover, delivered as a moving monologue over the phone. Wilson is always captivating, whether in one of her multi-award-winning stage roles or television projects, and we have no doubt she’ll be just as much of a tour de force here.
22 March – 28 August 2022
Punchdrunk, the world’s leading immersive theatre purveyors, are returning to London with a brand-new show, their first in the UK since 2014. Housed in the company’s new headquarters Woolwich Works, a brand-new arts complex in the Royal Arsenal spread across two Grade II-listed former military buildings, The Burnt City is set to be their largest and most ambitious show to date. Retelling the fall of Troy and taking inspiration from Aeschylus’s Agamemnon and Euripides‘ Hecuba, the company’s Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle will be recreating a sprawling, labyrinthine version of the ancient city, complete with dystopian dive bars and a neon-filled underworld populated by royalty, gods and monsters – and, of course, more than a few Punchdrunk surprises.
7 April – 11 June 2022
While The Corn is Green might be better known for its film adaptations, where both Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn have taken on the role of the visionary teacher Miss Moffat, Dominic Cooke’s large-scale production at the National aims to bring Emlyn Williams’ semi-autobiographical play to a new generation. This return to the stage marks the 1938 Welsh drama’s first London revival for 35 years, with British actor and TV star Nicola Walker taking on the lead role of headstrong English teacher Lily Moffat. Working in an impoverished mining village in late 19th-century Wales, where she teaches the local children to read and write, Moffat soon spots talent in the unruly Morgan Evans (a character Williams based on himself), and tries to help him land a place at university. When she faces increasing resistance from the community, she does everything possible to help him forge a new future.
Harold Pinter Theatre
15 April – 18 June 2022
If there’s one actor you’d describe as fearless, it would have to be Jodie Comer. The British star throws herself into every role with relish, whether she’s playing a psychopathic, fashion-loving assassin in Killing Eve or an exhausted care home worker in pandemic drama Help – so it’s hardly surprising she would choose a challenging one-woman play for her West End debut. Penned by Australian playwright Suzie Miller, Comer plays Tessa, a working-class criminal barrister at the top of her game. She makes a living defending men who are accused of sexual assault – but her professional and emotional worlds are turned upside down when she experiences one herself. Miller is known for her works that explore complex human stories and injustice, and Prima Facie is no exception. Something tells us this won’t be the last we’ll be seeing of Comer in the West End.
16 April – 6 August 2022
Jerusalem fans, rejoice! Jez Butterworth’s seminal drama – widely heralded as the 21st century’s best play – is returning to the West End with its original creative team, led by director Ian Rickson a decade after its last record-breaking, sell-out run. Mark Rylance returns to reprise his career-defining performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, a charming reprobate who spins entertaining yarns at his caravan, while Mackenzie Crook is back as his loyal sidekick Ginger, a role that earnt him both Tony and Olivier nominations. Set at Flintock Fair on St George’s Day, the play offers a vivid portrait of rural life under threat and a poetic lament for lost England, as Rooster faces eviction from his woodland home. Back in its original West End home of the Apollo, audiences can expect the same hyper-real set from 2009, complete with live chickens and elm trees.
Duke of York’s Theatre
23 May – 28 August 2022
Amy Adams may be a household name with six Oscar nominations under her belt, but this marks the first time the Hollywood star will take to the stage in the West End. She’s chosen one of Tennessee Williams’ most popular plays, The Glass Menagerie, for her long-awaited debut. Set in 1930s St Louis, the drama follows the Wingfield family and is told through the questionable memories of grown-up son Tom (played by both Paul Hilton and Tom Glynn-Carney at different stages of the character’s life). Adams plays faded Southern Belle Amanda, frustrated with her shy daughter Laura’s (Lizzie Annis) lack of suitors and longingly awaiting the arrival of a Gentleman Caller (Victor Alli). Bold staging by award-winning director Jeremy Herrin brings a new exploration of the fragility and fallibility of memories to Williams’ semi-autobiographical masterpiece.