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My Neighbour Totoro, Studio Ghibli, 1988
Photo by Studio Ghibli

The best new London theatre for 2022 – shows not to miss

Our pick of the best new plays, shows and musicals to book for in London’s theatres in 2022

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
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Touch wood, but there's every reason to think that 2022 will be the first year since 2019 that London’s theatres won’t have been forced to close en masse as a result of the global pandemic. We’re not out of the woods yet, but theatre survived 2020 and 2021 and it’s not going away any time soon. So with just the tiniest note of caution, let’s get excited for London theatre in 2022, as the plays, musicals and other good stuff we’re used to by-and-large return to how they were.

These choices aren’t the be-all and end-all of great theatre in 2022, but they are, as a rule, the biggest and splashiest shows of the year, the big highlights in the year’s theatre diary – the shows worth booking for, pronto.

Want to see if these shows live up to the hype? Check out our theatre reviews.

Unmissable theatre shows coming to London in 2022

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Bloomsbury

Ah wella wella… it’s back! ‘Grease’ returns for 2022 in a brand new production from Nikolai Foster, with choreography by Arlene Philips. We’re promised a different side to ‘Grease’ than the last, play-it-safe revival, with a grittier edge and songs and script from the original production restored.

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Sloane Square

This is a curious announcement from the Royal Court: its next main house show will be ‘That Is Not Who I Am’, a thriller about stolen online identities from the unknown Dave Davidson, allegedly a first-time playwright who has ‘worked in security’ for the last 38 years and refuses to share any photographs of himself for security reasons…

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Seven Dials

Yup: ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ is indeed a sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 proto-feminist masterpiece ‘A Doll’s House’. The brilliant Noma Dumezweni will play Nora, in her first stage role since her Olivier-winning turn as Hermione Granger in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’.

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Seven Dials

Prolific American playwright Theresa Rebeck has had her biggest successes across the pond – indeed, many of her Broadway hits have never even made it over to the UK. But here’s a rare world premiere in. the West End for one of her works, albeit one that’s anchored by two heavyweight American actors: David Harbour and Bill Pullman star in ‘Mad House’, a dark comedy about a group of siblings who converge on their dying father’s rural Pennsylvania home, with one eye on divvying up his inheritance. Harbour will play Michael, one of the siblings; Pullman will play Daniel, the dying father. Rebeck’s regular collaborator Moritz von Stuelpnagel directs.

  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

Although all Globe outdoor shows are equal, some are clearly more equal than others, and it’s hard not to see this production of ‘King Lear’ starring the great Kathryn Hunter in the title role as anything other than the flagship play in the 2022 season…

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Leicester Square

‘The Seagull’ flies again! The Jamie Lloyd Company’s 2020 production of Chekhov’s masterpiece marked the West End debut of Emilia Clarke: and it started previews before being shuttered by the pandemic on the week it was due to open. Now it’s it’s back, with a largely unchanged company headed by Clarke…

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Barbican

‘My Neighbour Totoro’ is a lavish new adaptation of the legendary Japanese animation Studio Ghibli’s 1988 film about a pair of young sisters who move to the countryside for the summer while their mother recovers from an illness. There, they encounter a world of magical creatures, including the eponymous Totoro, an ancient forest protector.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Waterloo

Belgian director Ivo van Hove returns to the Young Vic with the UK premiere of his adaptation of Édouard Louis’s book ‘Who Killed My Father’. An angry, tender portrait of the author’s father’s decline, Van Hove has adapted the book into a monologue which will be performed by the great Dutch actor Hans Kesting. 

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • South Bank

If the National Theatre under Rufus Norris has steered relatively clear of straight versions of canonical classics by anyone other than Shakespeare, then a massive revival of Arthur Miller’s seminal allegorical drama about the Salem witch trials never goes amiss. Brendan Cowell stars as troubled hero John Procter, and Eric Doherty will play Abigail.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Seven Dials

The Donmar’s 2022 season is notable for two huge UK premieres of US smashes: first Lucas Hnath’s Ibsen sequel ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’, and then this ten times Tony-winning musical by David Yazbek and Itamar Moses. 

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Covent Garden

Robert Icke's acclaimed final show as Almeida associate director gets its extremely long-awaited West End transfer.

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