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This summer’s hottest new theatre shows in London to book tickets for now

With global A-listers set to tread the boards and hotly anticipated new plays, it’s a show-stopping season for the West End and beyond

The coming months see the curtain rise on a glittering array of new London theatre shows. Whether you’re booking tickets for a classic revival or a world premiere, the stage is set for comedies, tragedies and everything in between. From the National Theatre’s spin on Dickens to Tom Holland swooping into town to star in Jamie Lloyd’s Romeo & Juliet, these are the best new London theatre shows this season.

The Cherry Orchard

Donmar Warehouse
Until 22 June

Benedict Andrews is back doing what he does best. Following his acclaimed productions of The Seagull and Three Sisters, the director brings Anton Chekhov to Donmar Warehouse with his version of The Cherry Orchard, the Russian playwright’s final play that’s seen by many as his masterpiece.

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Adeel Akhtar. Photography: Sarah Cresswell
14 Exciting New London Theatre Shows To See This SummerPin
Nina Hoss. Photography: Franziska Sinn

German stage and screen actor Nina Hoss (Homeland, Tár) makes her London debut as Ranevskaya, the aristocratic landowner who, along with her family, returns to her ancestral estate shortly before the property’s sale. The cast also includes two-time BAFTA award winner Adeel Akhtar (Sherwood, Murdered by My Father), in this poignant tale of the demise of Russia’s nobility in the dawn of the new industrial age. 

donmarwarehouse.com

Viola’s Room

The Carriageworks
Until 18 August

Any show by the multi award-winning immersive theatre company Punchdrunk is always going to be worth booking – and Viola’s Room won’t disappoint. Written by Booker Prize-shortlisted Daisy Johnson and narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, with sound design by Gareth Fry, their latest show is at their permanent base in Woolwich, aka The Carriageworks.

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It asks audiences to don headphones and walk barefoot, inviting them to “follow the light”  through a labyrinthine installation, in groups of no more than six. As they do so, they’re taken on an intimate and sensory spin on Barry Pain’s haunting early 20th-century short story about a strong-willed princess who is drawn to an ancient, forbidden maze. 

punchdrunk.com

Romeo & Juliet

Duke of York’s Theatre
11 May to 3 August

The excitement rippling through the West End is palpable. Tom Holland – aka Peter Parker / Spider-Man in six Marvel Cinematic Universe films – swoops into Duke of York’s Theatre for this new London theatre show. He is playing Romeo in an electric production of Romeo & Juliet, reimagined by director extraordinaire Jamie Lloyd (he hasn’t taken on Shakespeare since 2014’s Richard III starring Martin Freeman).

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This isn’t the first time Holland has trodden the boards of the West End either – he played the titular role in Billy Elliot the Musical for two years. Billed as a “pulsating new vision of Shakespeare’s immortal tale of wordsmiths, rhymers, lovers and fighters”, tickets are currently rarer than hen’s teeth, so if you get your hands on one, lucky you. 

thedukeofyorks.com

The Constituent

The Old Vic
13 June to 10 August

The Constituent is a new London theatre show you won’t want to miss. It’s by Olivier Award winner Joe Penhall, with Olivier and Tony Award winner Matthew Warchus (Matilda the Musical) directing a stellar cast. BAFTA award winner Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland,  Line of Duty) and Tony, BAFTA and Emmy award winner James Corden (One Man, Two Guvnors, The History Boys) both appear.

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Anna Maxwell Martin
18 Exciting New London Theatre Shows To See This SummerPin
Zachary Hart
18 Exciting New London Theatre Shows To See This SummerPin
James Corden

That said, the storyline promises to have us on the edge of our seats too. Maxwell Martin plays a hard-working backbencher whose ideals of public office are tested by an ex-serviceman whose life is spiralling out of control (Corden). A study of politics, panic alarms and the conflict between public services and personal safety. 

oldvictheatre.com

Bluets

Royal Court
17 May to 29 June

Ben Whishaw fans will want to make a beeline for Sloane Square, where the actor is appearing in Bluets at the Royal Court until the end of June. The play, based on Maggie Nelson’s acclaimed book by the same name, centres around the colour blue. It follows the ups and downs induced by the hue, looking at how it has been a source of comfort for the likes of Joni Mitchell, Derek Jarman, Andy Warhol and Billie Holiday as they navigate heartache.

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The novel has been beautifully adapted by playwright Margaret Perry, with the current production directed by Katie Mitchell. Appearing alongside Whishaw (James Bond, This is Going to Hurt, Paddington) in the play are Emma D’Arcy, who you’ll likely recognise from House of the Dragon, and Kayla Meikle (ear for eye).     

royalcourttheatre.com

Slave Play

Noel Coward Theatre
29 June to 21 September

Game of Thrones fans don’t have too much longer to wait until Kit Harington returns to the West End for the UK premiere of Slave Play in June at the Noel Coward Theatre. The actor will appear alongside Fisayo Akinade, Aaron Heffernan and Olivia Washington (daughter of Denzel), as well as several cast members from the original Broadway production.

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Jeremy O.Harris’s extraordinary play centres around themes of race, sex, power struggles, trauma and interracial relationships, shining a light on how racism continues to persist in 21st century America, well beyond the abolition of slavery. Thought-provoking, controversial and ground-breaking, this is the most Tony nominated play of all time – one not to miss.

noelcowardtheatre.co.uk

Boys from the Blackstuff

Garrick Theatre
13 June to 3 August

40 years on from Alan Beasdale’s acclaimed television series – and following successful runs at both Liverpool’s Royal Court and the National Theatre in London (the latter finishing on 8 June) –  James Graham’s powerful adaptation of Boys from the Blackstuff transfers to the West End for a limited eight-week run at the Garrick.

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Barry Sloane, Dominic Carter, Mark Womack, Nathan McMullen, Jamie Peacock, Aron Julius, Lauren O'Neil and Philip Whitchurch in Boys from the Blackstuff at Royal Court Liverpool 2024. Credit: Andrew AB Photography

It tells the story of a group of working-class men in Liverpool, Chrissie, Loggo, George, Dixie and Yosser. Where once they were earning money and providing for their loved ones, now life is tough as they face the misery and despair of long-term unemployment. Both tragic and, at times, humorous, this is a moving human drama about five men and their struggle for survival.

nimaxtheatres.com

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Wyndham’s Theatre
Until 8 June

Sarah Snook isn’t the only Succession star to tread the boards this Spring. Brian Cox – who played Logan Roy in the smash hit series – also takes his cue this season. The Golden Globe and Emmy award winner returns to the West End stage after almost a decade to appear in a brand-new production of Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

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Cox has swapped one dysfunctional family for another. Often described as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, O’Neill depicts one long, summer day in August 1912 in the life of the Tyrone family, who are torn apart by issues dealing with addiction, unfulfilled dreams, moral flaws, and the struggle of family relationships.

delfontmackintosh.co.uk

The Taming of the Shrew

Globe Theatre
6 June to 26 October

William Shakespeare’s early comedy The Taming of the Shrew follows the turbulent relationship between the shrewish Katharina (Thalissa Teixeira) and the larger-than-life, out for himself Petruchio, who is set on subduing her temper and thereby earning her dowry. But it takes “shocking levels of manipulation to win her as his bride”. And others have a vested interest too – only when Kate is wed can Lucentio wed her sister, the beautiful Bianca.

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As you’d expect from the world-renowned Globe, this production has a worthy cast who are being directed by Jude Christian. Playful in part, challenging in others, this new London theatre show asks us where we draw the line between entertainment and complicity, reality and the preposterous. 

shakespearesglobe.com

Antony & Cleopatra

Globe Theatre
4 August to 15 September

This is the first time in a decade that Shakespeare’s epic tragedy Antony & Cleopatra is being performed at the Globe (interestingly, the play was believed to be performed for the first time ever at the theatre in 1607). Not only that, but this is a ground-breaking bilingual production using both spoken English and British sign language – with all performances captioned.

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The story is one we’re familiar with. Roman general Mark Antony falls head over heels for Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Their amour blazes across two continents, with Antony putting his empire at serious risk with his infatuation. Indeed, his military prowess and sense of duty deserts him, putting thousands of lives at risk and leading the lovers to a tragic end. Blanche McIntyre directs with Charlotte Arrowsmith (This is Going to Hurt, BBC) as Associate Director. 

shakespearesglobe.com

G

The Royal Court
22 August to 21 September

Performed in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, G is described as a bold, visceral play. It’s by Nigerian-British writer and performer Tife Kusoro, an alumni of the Royal Court Introduction to Playwriting Group and winner of the Lynne Gagliano Award, which supports young writers to create a new piece of work, in 2020.

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The subject of the play is urban myth Baitface the Gullyman, who is believed to steal the faces and lives of Black Boys if they walk underneath a pair of trainers suspended on a telephone wire, face uncovered. When a trio of school friends Khaleem, Joy and Kai experience the spirit of Baitface for themselves, their lives, friendships and identities slowly start to unravel. 

royalcourttheatre.com

The Grapes of Wrath

National Theatre
17 July to 14 September

Tickets will no doubt be like gold dust for this reimagining of John Steinbeck’s seminal work The Grapes of Wrath at the Lyttelton Theatre. The 1939 novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize, is set during the Great Depression, focusing on the Joads, a family of tenant farmers. Driven from their Oklahoma home by poverty and drought,  they embark on an epic journey across America in the hope of a new, more prosperous life in the promised land of California.

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Carrie Cracknell directs Frank Galati’s award-winning adaptation of this moving, atmospheric story with a cast that will more than do it justice, including Tony Award Winner Cherry Jones (you’ll likely recognise her as the indomitable Nan Pierce in Succession or in The Glass Menagerie). 

nationaltheatre.org.uk

2:22 A Ghost Story

Gielgud Theatre
25 May to 4 August

The supernatural thriller 2:22 A Ghost Story has already enjoyed five sell-out seasons across a clutch of London’s theatres – and now it returns to the Gielgud. Written by Danny Robins and directed by Matthew Dunster and Isabel Marr, the story takes place over one long, suspense-filled night. Jenny believes her new home is haunted, her husband Sam doesn’t. As they debate it with their dinner party guests, belief and scepticism clash – but who will be proved right? And so they stay up past 2.22am to find out…

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Lily Allen in 2:22: A Ghost Story from 2023

This latest production will see Stacey Dooley take to the stage as Jenny, following in the footsteps of Lily Allen, Cheryl Cole and Jamie Winstone. She’ll be treading the boards alongside Donna Air, James Buckley and Joe McFadden. As well as dates at the Gielgud, the production will also be touring the UK and Dublin. Be afraid.    

222aghoststory.com

Player Kings

Noel Coward Theatre
Until 22 June

 Sir Ian McKellen has worked non-stop in the British theatre since 1961, both as leading man and producer. Indeed, he was knighted for his services. Shakespeare features heavily in McKellen’s six-decade career – he’s triumphed in Richard II, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Iago, Richard III and King Lear.

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From 1 April, we see him tread the boards in another play by the Bard, this time as John Falstaff in Player Kings, a new stage adaptation of Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 by award-winning writer and director Robert Icke. The production at the Noël Coward Theatre will reign over the West End for just twelve weeks, so catch it while you can. 

playerkingstheplay.co.uk

Hadestown

Lyric Theatre
Until December 2024

After a sold-out run at the National Theatre in 2018 and then on Broadway, multi-Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical Hadestown made its West End debut in February. Set in the underworld of Hades, the musical follows two intertwining mythic love stories – that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and King Hades and his wife Persephone.

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The West End cast includes Dónal Finn (The Wheel of Time) as Orpheus, Grace Hodgett Young as Eurydice, Grammy Award-winner Zachary James as Hades and Gloria Onitiri as Persephone. Blending modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz, it’s filled with toe-tapping hits. We defy you not to be singing along by the end. 

hadestown.com

London Tide

National Theatre
Until 22 June

A stellar cast, music by singer-songwriter PJ Harvey and a story loosely based on Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend… this new London theatre show has all the makings of a smash hit. And not forgetting Tony Award winning and BAFTA and Olivier Award nominated writer Ben Power (The Lehman Trilogy) who has adapted the 19th century novel for the modern stage.

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The story follows Lizzie Hexham, who lives in Limehouse where she struggles to break free of the river Thames and its dark secrets. While across town, Bella Wilfer mourns a lost marriage. When the enigmatic John Rokesmith appears, he could change their lives forever in what promises to be a romantic, propulsive hymn to the city and the river Thames. 

nationaltheatre.org.uk

People, Places and Things

Trafalgar Theatre
3 May to 10 August

Duncan Macmillan’s hit play returns to London for a 14-week run (having originally enjoyed a sell-out run at the National Theatre’s Dorfman theatre in 2015). It tells the story of struggling actress Emma whose life is spinning out of control. Now she’s in rehab, her first step is to admit she has an issue and to tell the truth, but there lies the problem… “When intoxication feels like the only way to survive the modern world, how can she ever sober up?”

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Dillon Scott-Lewis, Denise Gough, Danny Kirrane, Ryan Hutton and Polly Bennett (movement director) in rehearsals for People, Places & Things in the West End. Photography: Marc Brenner

Directed by the acclaimed Jeremy Herrin (Best of Enemies, This House) and designed by Tony Award-winner Bunny Christie (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), it sees Denise Gough reprise her Olivier Award-winning role as Emma, with a stellar supporting cast including Sinéad Cusack playing the roles of Doctor/Therapist/Mum.

nationaltheatre.org.uk

Mnemonic

National Theatre
22 June to 10 August

A quarter of a century after its first staging in the 90s, when it garnered extraordinary reviews and was described by critics as ‘astonishing, transfixing, transcendent’, Complicité’s production returns to the National Theatre. For those who didn’t see the play the first time, mnemonic means ‘assisting or intended to assist memory’ or ‘of memory’.

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That said, as the story unfurls (it starts in a biochemistry lecture before leading onto an ancient body found in the ice, a woman looking for her father, and a man searching for his lost lover), it’s as much about origins and our place in the natural world as it is about memory, throwing out that all-important question: Who are we, and where do we come from? 25 years on, McBurney returns to direct, while the only two cast members confirmed so far are Richard Katz and Kostas Phillippoglou. 

nationaltheatre.org.uk

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