The Unfriend, Criterion Theatre
Following a sold-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre, The Unfriend is preparing for a West End run at the Criterion. This is a dark comedy from writer Steven Moffat and director Mark Gatiss, the award-winning team behind BBC’s Sherlock, and stars an uproarious cast including Reece Shearsmith (Inside No. 9), Amanda Abbington (Sherlock) and Frances Barber (Silk). While on holiday, Peter and Debbie befriend Elsa, a lusty, Trump-loving widow from Denver. She’s less than woke but kind of wonderful. They agree to stay in touch – because no one ever really does, do they? When Elsa invites herself to stay a few months later, they decide to look her up online. Too late, they learn the truth about Elsa Jean Krakowski. What began as a casual holiday friendship is now a threat to the lives of their children, and Peter and Debbie must face the ultimate challenge in the modern world – how do you protect all that you love without seeming a bit impolite?
15th January-16th April
Medea, Soho Place
Multi-award-winning actress Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda, Death on the Nile, The Hollow Crown) stars in this new production, based on the ancient Greek tragedy. Okonedo plays Medea, a woman who has been turned from a lover into a destroyer of love. She is laid bare by grief and rage, and her terrible quest for revenge against the men who have abandoned her. Fearing a possible plot of revenge, Creon, her ex-lover, banishes Medea and her children from the city they’ve always called home. Also stars Ben Daniels (The Passion, The Exception).
10th February-22nd April
The Lehman Trilogy, National Theatre
The Tony award-winning play makes a triumphant return to London, following acclaimed seasons in LA and Broadway. Michael Balogun (Death of Englan, Delroy, Macbeth), Hadley Fraser (The Antipodes, Coriolanus) and Nigel Lindsay (The Pillowman, A Small Family Business) play the Lehman brothers, their sons and grandsons in an extraordinary feat of storytelling told in three parts on a single evening. Written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power and directed by Oscar, Tony and Golden Globe winner Sam Mendes, the three-and-a-half-hour epic begins on a cold September morning in 1844, as a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside dreaming of a new life in the New World. He is joined by his two brothers and an American epic begins. Over 160 years later, the firm they establish – Lehman Brothers – spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, triggering the largest financial crisis in history.
24th January-20th May
Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, Harold Pinter Theatre
This tender rom-com is about what we say, how we say it and what happens when we can’t say anything anymore. Starring Jenna Coleman (The Serpent, All My Sons) and Aidan Turner (Poldark, The Lieutenant of Inishmore), this bold play from Sam Steiner (Fingernails, You Stupid Darkness!) is directed by Josie Rourke (Mary Queen of Scots, As You Like It).
18th January-18th March
The Great British Bake-Off Musical, Noël Coward Theatre
The nation’s favourite TV cookery show has become a musical. Five years in development and created in association with the producers of the phenomenally successful TV series, the play is set to arrive in the West End in spring 2023 following a sold-out run in Chichester. Expect all the TV show’s elements of humour, heart and joy – alongside 16 new songs.
25th February-13th May
A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre
Famed stage director Ivo van Hove's world premiere of Hanya Yanagihara's bestselling novel A Little Life is due in the West End in March 2023. Van Hove will direct James Norton (Jude), Luke Thompson (Willem), Omari Douglas (JB) and Zach Wyatt (Malcolm), the novel’s unforgettable central unit, in a long-awaited production that we’re sure will – like the book – be unforgettable. A Little Life follows four college friends in New York City: aspiring actor Willem, successful architect Malcolm, struggling artist JB and prodigious lawyer Jude. As ambition, addiction and pride threaten to pull the group apart, they always find themselves bound by their love for Jude and the mysteries of his past. But when those secrets come to light, they finally learn that to know Jude is to understand the limitless potential of love in the face of life.
25th March-18th June
August in England, Bush Theatre
Comedian and actor Lenny Henry makes his playwriting debut in this new show based on stories from the Windrush scandal. August Henderson is a charming man with the gift of the gab. Between his three kids, devoted wife-to-be and part-ownership of a fruit and veg shop, he’s proud of the life he has built since landing in his beloved West Bromwich from the West Indies. So, when faced with deportation to a country he has no memory of, he isn’t prepared to go quietly. An important watch to learn about those affected by the injustice of the scandal.
25th April-10th June
The Pillowman, Duke of York Theatre
Lily Allen (2:22 – A Ghost Story) returns to the West End stage in this new production of Martin McDonagh’s black comedy, The Pillowman. In a totalitarian state, a writer is questioned by the authorities about a spate of murders that bear similarities to her short stories. Is this life imitating art or something more sinister?
10th June-2nd September
Günther Förg, Hauser & Wirth London
German-born Günther Förg was a prolific painter, sculptor, graphic designer and photographer whose works include and critique tropes from the modernist movement. The exhibition will display Förg’s Spot Paintings, the artist’s final series made between 2007 to 2009 before he stopped painting after suffering a stroke. In these works, the brushstrokes are full and considered – influenced by photographs Förg saw of Francis Bacon’s studio, which was covered in colourful blotches of paint created when the artist would wipe his brushes on the walls and door of the studio to remove excess paint.
1st February-29th April
Beyond the Streets, Saatchi Gallery
The Saatchi Gallery will open the UK’s most comprehensive exhibition on street art and graffiti. For the first time in eight years, the exhibition will take over the entirety of the gallery with original art, photography, immersive installations and archival fashion from over 150 artists and rulebreakers. It pays homage to the moments from the worlds of graffiti, street art, hip-hop and punk rock, as well as the artists who immortalised them.
17th February-9th May
The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance, The National Gallery
Renaissance art is widely regarded as one of the most important artistic periods in European history, but many of the paintings can look odd and – sometimes – ugly to a contemporary audience. This exhibition starts with one of the National Gallery’s best-known faces: Quinten Massys’s 16th-century depiction of an old woman, a painting known as ‘The Ugly Duchess’. It will also display works by da Vinci and other renaissance artists who were fascinated by the grotesque and fantastical, as well as artworks that look at how women, old age and facial difference were satirised and demonised at the time.
16th March-11th June 2023
Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece, British Museum
This British Museum exhibition explores the relationship between luxury and power in the Middle East and southeast Europe between 550-30 BC with this new collection of artefacts and objects. This was a period when the Persian empire of ancient Iran clashed with the cities and kingdoms of Greece before it was conquered by Alexander the Great. With objects from Afghanistan to Italy – many of which are on loan to the museum – audiences can see a stunning display of gold, silver and glass, which tell a story from this fascinating period of history.
4th May-15th August
Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis, Hayward Gallery
Inspired by artist Otobong Nkanga’s suggestion that ‘caring is a form of resistance’, this exhibition will highlight the ways in which artists are helping to reframe and further our understanding of the climate crisis, hoping to inspire joy and empathy with the world. Artist lke Agnes Denes, Andrea Bowers, Otobong Nkanaga and Jacqueline Imani Brown will explore our dependence on ecosystems, our emotional connection with nature, and how we can all help the planet and vulnerable communities across the globe. There will also be an illustrated catalogue with essays that look at the history of climate-concerned art.
21st June-3rd September
From the opera goddesses of the Victorian era to today’s global megastars, Diva will celebrate the power and creativity of iconic performers, exploring what it means to be a diva and how this has been subverted or embraced over time across opera, stage, popular music and film. Featuring fashion, photography, design, costumes, music and live performance drawn from the V&A’s collection and loans from across the world, the exhibition looks at how the performer has intersected with society and driven change through their voice and art.
From 24th June
A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography, Tate Modern
After the V&A’s exhibition on African fashion last year, Tate Modern will open its own exhibition on the African diaspora – this time on photography. Celebrating artists from different generations, the exhibition will explore how photography, film and audio has been used to reimagine Africa’s diverse cultures and historical narratives. It will feature artists with heritage from across the continent, showcasing the varied landscapes with photographs depicting everything from spirituality to climate change.
6th July-14th January 2024
Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto, V&A
This is the first exhibition in the UK dedicated to the work of French couturière Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. It will chart the evolution of her iconic design style and the establishment of the House of Chanel, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971. Featuring over 180 looks, seen together for the first time, as well as jewellery, accessories, make-up and perfume, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s pioneering approach to fashion, which paved the way for a new feminine elegance and continues to influence the way women dress today.
From 16th September
Philip Guston, Tate Modern
Canadian painter and printmaker Philip Guston was one of the 20th century’s most important abstract artists, known for capturing the turbulent and troubled world around him. His early work included murals and paintings addressing racism in America and wars on both sides of the Atlantic. During the late 1960s, Guston began producing large-scale paintings that feature comic-like figures, some in white hoods representing evil and the everyday perpetrators of racism. These paintings and those that followed established Guston as one of the most influential painters of the last century.
5th October-25th February 2024
Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec, Royal Academy
As well as the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition, the must-see show of the year is Impressionists on Paper, featuring 70 works on paper by leading impressionist and post-impressionist artists like Degas, Cézanne, Renoir and Van Gogh. Many of the pieces were created with pastels, watercolours, temperas and gouaches. A rare chance to see first sketches from some of the world’s most celebrated artists.
25th November-10th March 2023
Liza Pulman – The Heart Of It, The Other Palace
Liza Pulman has frequently been praised as one of the few singers in the world who can emulate the vocals of Barbra Streisand. This month, Liza will perform her new show and album The Heart Of It at the West End’s The Other Palace. As well as a few Streisand classics, she’ll perform tracks by Randy Newman and Irving Berlin, to name a couple.
Sylvia, Old Vic
Musical Sylvia returns to the Old Vic theatre this month starring award-winning singer Beverley Knight. Over 100 years after the first women in Britain were granted the vote, the musical tells the incredible story of the Suffragette movement. Beverley Knight (The Drifters Girl, Sister Act) stars as Emmeline Pankhurst with Sharon Rose (Hamilton, Motown the Musical) as her daughter Sylvia, the lesser-known Pankhurst and activist in the Suffragette movement. The modern take on the story includes dance, hip hop, soul and funk.
27th January-1st April
Dance Me, Sadler’s Wells
After performances across North America and Canada, Dance Me will make its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells. Fourteen dancers from the Ballet Jazz Montréal company will perform a series of dances to a score by the late Leonard Cohen. Approved by Cohen during his lifetime, the show will be brought to life by three renowned choreographers: Andonis Foniadakis, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Ihsan Rustem.
7th -11th February