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Cirque du Soleil: Kurios, Royal Albert Hall, 2022
Photo by Martin Girard

The best new theatre shows opening in London January 2023

We pick the best new theatre shows and musicals that will wow the capital in the new year

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
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It’s 2023, baby! And it’s a bustling month for London theatre thanks to the return of a couple of massive festivals – Vault and LIMF – plus a brace of massive December openings that were forced to delay. And that’s not all: as ever, there’s plenty to get excited about in London theatre, with new stuff ranging from Cirque du Soleil’s annual visit to a couple of big new West End comedies. Check out the best new shows, plays and musicals coming to London this month, as recommended by the Time Out Theatre team.

To plan further ahead, check out our top shows to see this year.

Also, check out our latest theatre reviews

And if you need somewhere to stay, see the best hotels near the West End

RECOMMENDED: Find the best West End theatre shows.

London’s top new theatre shows

  • Theatre
  • Experimental
  • Waterloo

It’s been too long since London got to experience the underground delights of Vault Festival: the 2020 edition was shut by the pandemic, and the following two years didn’t happen. Now it’s back: London’s biggest, boldest, weirdest underground festival of theatre and comedy finally returns for two glorious months.

  • Theatre
  • Experimental
  • London

After two years rendered necessarily low-key by the pandemic, the tirelessly innovative LIMF is having a last hurrah for its old multi-venue format, bringing a wealth of international physical theatre talent to London one last time. 

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Leicester Square

Sam Steiner’s debut play, a surreal romcom about a couple struggling to cope in a society where language has inexplicably been rationed was a big word-of-mouth success at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe. And now it’s back – unexpectedly but delightfully – in a major West End revival from director Josie Rourke with a starry cast of Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Islington

It topped our December picks… and then it got a bit messed up when Lydia Wilson was forced to drop out of Rebecca Frecknall’s prestige Tennessee Williams revival. But it should manage a January opening, with Patsy Ferran now taking on the role of Blanche DuBois, opposite Paul Mescal making his post-fame return to the stage in the iconic role of Stanley Kowalski. 

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Seven Dials

Another December play forced to delay a month due to illness, the Donmar’s notional Christmas show is a rare revival for twentieth-century playwright Lillian Hellmann’s 1941 drama about Kurt, a German dissident and his family who believe they’ve escaped the horrors of Nazi Germany but find they’ve caught up with them in America. Ellen McDougall directs.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Sloane Square

Trans actor and playwright Travis Alabanza follows up their acclaimed plays ‘Burgerz’ and ‘Overflow’ with ‘Sound of the Underground’, a celebration of London’s queer nightlife. The Royal Court being the Royal Court, it’s unclear if this will take the form of a drama with characters or something more abstract, but it sounds like a fun way to kick off 2023.

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  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Piccadilly Circus

‘The Unfriend’ sees erstwhile ‘Doctor Who’ head writer Steven Moffat make his debut as a playwright in partnership with his ‘Sherlock’ collaborator Mark Gatiss (who makes his debut as a stage director). The social satire has already been a hit at Chichester Festival Theatre, and follows English couple Peter and Debbie who befriend an eccentric, Trump-loving old lady named Elsa while on holiday in the US. 

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Charing Cross Road

Michael Frayn’s hysterical meta-farce is one of those comedies that’s never far from a revival. Directed by Lindsay Posner, this hit version stars Felicity Kendal, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Matthew Kelly, Alexander Hanson, Joseph Millson, Sasha Frost, Pepter Lunkuse and Jonathan Coy as the cast of ‘Nothing On’, a ropey sex farce whose tour across the UK becomes a farce in itself.

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  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • South Kensington

Canadian circus superstars Cirque du Soleil return for their traditional start-of-year slot at the Royal Albert Hall with ‘Kurios’, a UK premiere. The steampunk-styled show is inspired by Victoriana and thus has a clear connection to the RAH, which has had special modifications performed upon it over the course of this year to reinforce the structure to accommodate more of the Cirque’s shows. 

  • Theatre
  • Immersive
  • Westminster

Indie immersive theatre crew Swamp Motel returns with a fresh adventure. ‘Saint Jude’ is a partnership with AI company Charisma.ai that’s set in the titular Saint Jude, a company that provides comfort and care for people trapped in irreversible comas. 

Encore

See the brightest stars on stage with Time Out

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