The London theatre scene is famous all around the world, and with good reason. Whether you’re booking tickets for a West End show, taking in a classic revival or watching a world premiere, there’s no shortage of talent on the London stage. This winter, audiences will be treated to two stellar stagings of Macbeth, Sarah Jessica Parker’s West End debut and a brand-new play by Jez Butterworth. Here’s our edit of the best new London theatre shows to have on your radar this season and beyond.
8 December – 10 February 2024
When it comes to London theatre, the Donmar Warehouse is known for putting on some of the capital’s finest shows, and this season is no exception. Do whatever you can to nab a ticket to their latest staging of Macbeth, which sees David Tennant taking on the part of the damaged king.
Well-versed in playing dastardly villains on the small screen, it feels like a part he was born to play – so it’s surprising that this will mark the first time he’s tackled the Scottish play in his illustrious stage career. The Good Fight star Cush Jumbo will be joining him as Lady Macbeth, creating a truly formidable duo. Directed by Max Webster – who has form with Shakespeare revivals after last year’s excellent version of Henry V, starring Kit Harington – we’re expecting great things.
22 January – 20 April 2024
With an outstanding cast that includes Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting) and Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education), it’s hardly surprising that Sam Holcrofts’s new play A Mirror is making a West End transfer, after playing to packed audiences during a sell-out run at the Almeida earlier in the year. Dubbed “extraordinary and mesmeric” by critics, the play tackles ideas of censorship, authorship and free speech, all in the context of Leyla and Joel’s wedding.
As the production information states: “This performance is being staged without a licence from the Ministry. We recognise the risk that each and every one of you is taking by attending, and we salute your courage.” So as the nuptials unfold on stage, who knows what will happen…
The Motive and the Cue
Noël Coward Theatre
9 December – 23 March 2024
Following in the footsteps of Dear England earlier this year, Motive and the Cue is another National Theatre production that’s making a West End transfer – no surprises there, seeing as it was the winner of this year’s best play at the recent Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Jack Thorne’s whip-smart new play will be at the Noël Coward Theatre for a strictly limited 15-week run, bringing its stellar cast along with it.
Directed by Sam Mendes, Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Sherlock) takes on the role of famed director John Gielgud opposite Johhny Flynn (Emma, Operation Mincemeat) as Richard Burton, in a startling retelling of the making of the pair’s Hamlet on Broadway. Downton Abbey’s Tuppence Middleton, meanwhile, stars as Elizabeth Taylor, newly married to Burton. Dubbed ‘a love letter to theatre’, book a ticket while you still can.
15 January – 31 March 2024
Neil Simon’s much-loved romantic comedy Plaza Suite is coming to the Savoy in January, with two big Hollywood names in the leading roles: two-time Tony Award winner Matthew Broderick (The Producers) and his wife Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City). The show will mark the first time Broderick has returned to the West End since his well-received debut in The Starry Messenger in 2019, while for Parker it will be the first ever time she’s trod the boards in London.
The comedy is set in the titular hotel suite, with Broderick and Parker playing a series of different couples, who each have their own very distinct issues. If the rave Broadway reviews are anything to go by, this is set to be one seriously fun night at the theatre that’s not to be missed.
The Hills of California
Harold Pinter Theatre
27 January – 15 June 2024
It’s always an event when the legendary playwright Jerusalem Jez Butterworth releases a new play, so you can bet tickets for his latest, The Hills of California, are going to be like gold dust. Following on from the runaway success of his 2017 play The Ferryman, Butterworth’s latest play will be directed once again by top British director Sam Mendes, which almost guarantees West End success.
Though not much is known about the show yet, we do know that it’s not set in California but rather Blackpool, during the sweltering summer of 1976. There the Webb sisters are returning to their mother’s run-down guest house, as she lies dying upstairs. The cast includes Olivier Award-winning Laura Donnelly, who scooped the prize for her run in The Ferryman, Ophelia Lovibond (This England), Leanne Best (Ted Lasso) and Helena Wilson as the four sisters, in what’s set to be one of next year’s most talked about shows.
10 February – 23 March 2024
As soon as one Macbeth revival leaves the London stage, another one swoops in to take its place. Only this version of the Scottish play is set to do things a little differently – instead of being based in a well-known London theatre, it will be taking place in custom built theatre spaces created solely for this production in Liverpool, Edinburgh, London and Washington DC.
Directed by Simon Godwin, who’s currently serving as the artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, it stars the incomparable Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Constant Gardener) as the monstrous monarch, with the equally brilliant Indira Varma (Luther, The Capture) as Lady Macbeth. Here, Shakespeare’s 11th-century battleground is turned into a modern-day war zone, to electrifying effect.
The Young Vic
Until 27 January
There was a time when you couldn’t move for stellar Harold Pinter revivals on the London theatre scene, but over the last few years there have been hardly any of note – until now. Olivier-nominated director Matthew Dunster (2:22 A Ghost Story) is bringing a bold retelling of the British playwright’s powerful masterpiece The Homecoming to the Young Vic this winter.
BAFTA Award-winning Jared Harris (Chernobyl, Mad Men) stars as Max, the menacing patriarch of the family, while Joe Cole (Gangs of London, Peaky Blinders) takes on the role of Teddy, the academic son returning home from America with his new wife, Ruth (Call the Midwife’s Lisa Diveney) in tow. As the family meet her for the first time, things quickly start to unravel, with dire consequences.
An Enemy of the People
Duke of York’s Theatre
6 February – 6 April 2024
It’s been 15 years since Matt Smith appeared in the West End, long before he shot to fame in Doctor Who and The Crown. But now the wait is over, as the charismatic actor is back on the London stage with a bang in this innovative version of Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama, An Enemy of the People.
The revival at the Duke of York’s Theatre marks the English-language premiere of German director Thomas Ostermeier’s globally renowned production, which is best known for a section where the audience is invited to discuss the ethics of the play live with its protagonist, Dr Stockmann (Smith). Smith stars opposite Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay in this thought-provoking play about truth in a society driven by power and money. With its comparisons to the current climate crisis, it feels more relevant than ever.
24 February – 11 May
This play, which tells the story of NHS founder Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, promises a “surreal and spectacular journey through the life and legacy of the man who transformed Britain’s welfare state”. Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) stars as the legendary Welsh figure, which seems only fitting as fellow Welshman Sheen has often spoken of his admiration for the politician.
Penned by Tim Price (Teh Internet is Serious Business) and directed by Rufus Norris as one of his last plays in his role as Director of the National Theatre, the new drama is being billed as ‘an epic Welsh fantasia’ that sees a dying Bevan look back on his life, from working as a miner to founding the NHS.
Until 27 January
Award-winning Irish playwright David Ireland’s brutally funny comedy is getting a starry retelling at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith this winter, after it received its world premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. The show follows an Oscar-winning American actor, an English director and a Northern Irish playwright who are about to begin rehearsals for a new play — one that could transform each of their careers. But when it turns out that they’re not on the same page, the night threatens to spiral out of control.
Woody Harrelson (True Detective, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) returns to the London stage for the first time in almost 20 years to play actor Jay Conway, while Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Batman) stars as English director Leigh Carver. Rounding out the cast is Louisa Harland (Derry Girls), who takes on the role of Northern Irish playwright Ruth Davenport in this blistering satire.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Theatre Royal Haymarket
From 6 February
While most people know Sarah Snook for her role as Shiv Roy in the smash hit show Succession, the Australian actress is now set to eschew the small screen in favour of the stage, as she returns to the West End for the first time in seven years to spearhead an innovative production of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Snook will head up the one-woman show, where she’ll play all of the 26 roles on stage herself.
Originally staged in Sydney in 2020, the show is a feat of technical wizardry, with Wilde’s dark horror story brought to life through a series of on-stage cameras and video replays that all star Snook. Hailed as a “dizzyingly beautiful tour de force”, it’s set to be one of the hottest tickets in town this winter.
Just For One Day
The Old Vic
26 January – 30 March 2024
While Bob Geldof’s Live Aid concerts in the 80s might not immediately seem like fodder for a new musical, that’s exactly what this new show at the Old Vic is about. Written by best-selling author John O’Farrell (Mrs Doubtfire) and directed by Luke Sheppard (& Juliet, The Little Big Things), Just For One Day will be making its world premiere in January and aims to tell the story of the London and New York concerts that raised $127m for famine relief back on July 13, 1985.
Created with support from Geldof himself and with the rights to perform songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Who, U2, Queen, Elton John, Paul McCartney and more, it’s set to be a real crowd pleaser. And if the virtual ticket queues on the day of release are to be believed, a sell-out hit too. What’s more, 10% from the sale of every ticket for will be donated to the Band Aid Charitable Trust to support their ongoing global relief efforts.
The Human Body
16 February – 13 April 2024
London-born playwright Lucy Kirkwood is known for her searing modern plays like Chimerica, The Children and Mosquitoes, which have earnt her numerous Oliver and Tony Award wins and nominations. Now she’s back with a dazzling new work, The Human Body, which is sure to be just as well received.
Starring Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard, Line of Duty) and Jack Davenport (The Morning Show, Kingsman), it’s set in Shropshire in 1948, as GP and Labour party councillor Iris Elcock (Hawes) is working round the clock to implement Nye Bevan’s National Health Service Act. But a chance meeting with George Blythe (Davenport), a local boy who has made it to Hollywood, turns her quiet world upside down. A story of political and private passions, it’s bound to be in the mix come the next theatre awards season.
From 10 February 2024
After a sold-out run at the National Theatre in 2018 and then on Broadway, multi-Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical Hadestown is making 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.
Blending modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz, the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the show is one of the most streamed cast albums of all time, with over 340 million streams to date. The West End cast will include Dónal Finn (The Wheel of Time) as Orpheus, Grace Hodgett Young as Eurydice, who is currently starring as Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre, Grammy Award-winner Zachary James as Hades and Gloria Onitiri as Persephone, who originated the role of Fairy Godmother in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella. Filled with toe-tapping hits, we defy you not to be singing along by the end.