james debate
james debate

Sunday 13 February 2022

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2022 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting theatrical productions coming to the stage in the coming year.

best anticipated new theatre theatrical production 2022 hot list
The last two years have not been kind to theatre, with pandemics, lockdowns, and tight restrictions on when and how you can congregate indoors. So much so, that this blog skipped the Theatre list entirely in its 2021 preview. But in 2022, theatre makes a comeback. The playhouses are reopening, the great thespians of the world are returning to the stage, and the pent-up creative output of two years is ready to be unleashed.

Make no mistake, we are still not back at 100%. I hold tickets for several 2020 productions that have still yet to be rescheduled and there is no guarantee that conditions won't worsen once again. For this reason, this year's list will be reduced from 15 to 10.

So without further ado here's our list of the top 10 theatrical productions to keep an eye on in 2022, starting with number 10:

10. "Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, at Duke of York's Theatre

london best theatre 2022 glass menagerie tennessee williams duke of york london amy adams
Tennessee Williams' celebrated "memory play" is well-trodden ground for the theatre. In fact this is not even the first time in recent years that it has graced the Duke of York Theatre's stage. Still, this is a production of Glass Menagerie that could well stand out.

One of the great draws of British theatre is its ability to attract the most celebrated names in acting. Glass Menagerie has a real superstar waiting in the wings in Amy Adams. The six-time Academy Award nominee has been cast as Amanda Wingfield. A less flashy, but no less important addition is in director Jeremy Herrin, a master of the stage who in recent years has worked on some top productions in This House and Wolf Hall Trilogy.

Glass Menagerie will begin previews in May.

9. "Marys Seacole" by Jackie Sibblies Drury, at the Donmar Warehouse

london 2022 best theatre marys seacole jackie drury donmar A new play about the pioneering Jamaican nurse who braved the battlefield to heal soldiers in the Crimean war. Billed as a metafictional biography, Marys Seacole is a story about what it means to be a woman who is paid to care, and how, ultimately, no one is in charge of their own story.  

This is the centrepiece of a new programme to mark the reopening of Covent Garden's cherished Donmar Warehouse. It is the latest work from the mind of the Pulitzer Prize winning Jackie Sibblies Drury and reunites the creative team behind her critically acclaimed Fairview.

Marys Seacole will run from April until the end of June.

8. "4000 Miles" by Amy Herzog, at the Old Vic

best theatre london 2022 4000 four thousand miles amy herzog old vic eileen atkins timothee chalamet A dramatic comedy and Pulitzer Prize finalist when it launched on Broadway, Amy Herzog's 4000 Miles is one of several delayed 2020 productions looking to make its long-awaited curtain-fall this year. 

21-year-old Leo set out from the West Coast cycling across America with his best friend. After weeks of radio silence, no one is more surprised than his 91-year-old grandmother, Vera, when Leo turns up on her Manhattan doorstep in the middle of the night. A tale of grief and friendship in New York City, this production at The Old Vic is blessed with a cast of stars that includes Dame Eileen Atkins and Hollywood wunderkind Timothée Chalamet.

The exact date of this launch has yet to be confirmed, but is said to be sometime in the summer.

7. "The House of Shades" by Beth Steel, at the Almeida

best theatre 2022 london house of shades almeida beth steelAnother rescheduled 2020 production, The House of Shades promises a working class epic, told over five generations of a family struggling through the industrial landscape of 20th Century Britain.

This world premiere at the Almeida comes courtesy of Hampstead Theatre regular Beth Steel, best known for her productions of Wonderland and Labyrinth on that stage. Here, she collaborates with director Blanche McIntyre, a familiar face for patrons of the Almeida following her star studded production of The Writer.

The House of Shades will run over the summer, with previews commencing in May this year.

6. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Aaron Sorkin and Harper Lee, at the Gielgud Theatre

london best theatre 2022 to kill a mockingbird harper lee aaron sorkin rafe spall gielgudBut not all of 2020's rescheduled productions have re-emerged unscathed. The Gielgud's production of the classic Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird will finally see the light of day in 2022, albeit with a notable casting change.

This is a production of the adaptation by legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, previously a mega-hit on Broadway that has earned rave reviews from the critics. The London production had originally been cast with Rhys Ifans, but following a two year delay, he has been replaced by Rafe Spall. Ifans is one of the greats, but in Spall we have a very capable replacement. It will be interesting to see how he fares.

It is sad that in 2022, the 60th anniversary of the novel's original publication, its themes of racial injustice remain so pertinent, hopefully this production can serve as a timely reminder, and stir some fresh impetus into solving some of the problems that we still face as a society.

5. "The 47th" by Mike Bartlett, at the Old Vic

london best theatre 2022 47th president election trump biden charles iii bartlett carvel old vicMike Bartlett is one of those playwrights that merits attention any time he puts out new work. His plays have drawn critical acclaim and big budget adaptations. 

The 47th sees him tread the familiarly political ground of King Charles III and Albion, with a new darkly comedic script that imagines the hypothetical 2024 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Exciting casting news sees the highly accomplished Bertie Carvel in the starring role, seen recently in his Olivier award winning turn as Ruper Murdoch in the excellent Almeida production of Ink.

The 47th will run from the end of March until the end of May at the Old Vic.

4. "The Father and the Assassin" by Anupama Chandrasekhar, at the National Theatre

best theatre 2022 london the father and assassin anupama chandrasekhar national One of the main tentpoles of their summer line up, The Father and the Assassin is the National Theatre debut of acclaimed Indian playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar

A dramatic epic about the man who would become Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, The Father and the Assassin traces the life of Nathuram Godse over thirty years during India's fight for independence.

The Father and the Assassin opens in May and will run through the summer on the National's Olivier stage.

3. "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh, at Duke of York's Theatre

london best theatre 2022 pillowman martin mcdonagh duke of yorkOne of the most celebrated works of the multi award winning playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh, best known for his work in Hollywood that includes In Bruges, Seven Psycopaths, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. The Pillowman made its debut at the National Theatre back in 2003. Now, some 19 years later, it returns to the stage at Duke of York's Theatre.

The Pillowman is the story of Katurian, an author living in a police state whose work comes under scrutiny when it becomes apparent that the violence depicted in his writing bears striking similarities to a series of gruesome child murders that take place. This West-End revival comes with a fairly prominent star in Aaron Taylor Johnson, and a dark turn for comedian Steve Pemberton

This was one of those productions originally slated for 2020 before the pandemic hit. While a new release has yet to be confirmed, it is expected to hit the stage later in 2022.

2. "Jerusalem" by Jez Butterworth, at the Apollo Theatre

jerusalem jez butterworth apollo mark rylance london best theatre 2022 One of the most unmissable pieces of theatre to come along in a long while, yet unfortunately also one of the easiest to miss due to the high demand for tickets.

Jerusalem is a revival of the 2009 Jez Butterworth play, previously at the Royal Court Theatre. But the main attraction is its world-renowned star Mark Rylance, whose starring turn in the original production is commonly viewed as one of the all time great theatre performances. Rylance, incredibly, returns to the role some twelve years later, offering a new opportunity to witness this great piece of theatre.

This new production comes courtesy of the Apollo Theatre and begins its run in March. Tickets are going fast.

1. "The Burnt City" by Punchdrunk Theatre

london best theatre 2022 burnt city punchdrunk drowned man sleep no more immersive interactive woolwichBut our number 1 play to see in 2022 is the latest from hugely ambitious immersive theatre maestros Punchdrunk, The Burnt City. While Sleep No More continues to run strong in New York some six years later, and now also in Shanghai, this marks their first London production since 2013's The Drowned Man.

A loose adaptation of Greek tragedies Agamemnon and Hecuba, The Burnt City will be another immersive showcase, taking place in not one, but two former military arsenal buildings in Woolwich. Attendees will be free to explore these sprawling, immaculately detailed environments while actors perform the rather loose narratives around them. 

A Punchdrunk theatre production is an experience like few other. An extraordinary mix of theatre, open-world videogame and hallucinogenic waking dream. Many others have since followed to try and do what they do, but none have pulled it off so convincingly. This will be a must-see event, possibly even multiple times..

So there you have it folks: 2022 in theatre. Tune in soon for our next instalment of the Hot List, covering the essential new music coming this year!

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