Duke of York
I fell in love with Sheridan Smith in Gavin & Stacey. Nearly two decades on – and with countless accolades to her name – she’s one of the best actresses around, so I’m intrigued to see her take on the iconic role of Shirley Valentine, a middle-aged, working-class Liverpudlian housewife. Stuck in a rut and desperately wondering where the years have gone, Shirley is disappointed with her everyday life and feels like her family treats her like a servant, particularly her distant husband. She packs her bags and head to Greece, leaving a note for them in the kitchen. Surrounded by golden sands and azure waters, she rediscovers her love for life and everything she’s been missing out on in England. Will she return home happy and fulfilled, or decide to stay and continue dreaming?
Until 3rd June
Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial
I was lucky enough to see this in December when it hit the stage at Wyndham's Theatre, but I’m going back for a second time as I enjoyed it so much. I’ve followed the Wagatha Christie trial closely over the last few years, so I was delighted when director Lisa Spirling turned the feud between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy into a play. The script has been adapted from the trial’s original high-court transcript, showing how both women were embroiled in sting operations and drew sensational headlines that turned social media sleuthing into high drama. From hilarious one-liners you won’t believe were said in court to shocking revelations about two of Britain’s most famous celebrities, it’s an extraordinary play about one very dramatic week.
6th Apr-20th May
Dixon and Daughters
More often than not, my favourite theatre shows are based on one topic – familial drama – so this new play at the National sounds right up my street. Brid Brennan (The Ferryman), Liz White (Anatomy of a Scandal) and Andrea Lowe (Sherwood) star Dixon & Daughters directed by Deborah Bruce. Mary has just been released from prison. She wants to come home and forget all about it but Briana has other ideas. Over a tumultuous two days, a family is forced to confront not just their past but themselves. Because even if you refuse to hear the truth, the truth doesn’t go away.
15th April-10th June
2022 was a great year for highlighting marginalised voices on the stage, so I'm pleased too see more LGBTQ+ stories across London's theatres this year. Tatenda Shamiso is a trans actor and director whose most recent work includes A Streetcar Named Desire starring Paul Mescal. Next month, he’ll take to the stage to tell the story of his own experience as a Black transgender immigrant in the UK. Using the songs he wrote throughout his first year on testosterone, alongside letters, signatures and files of paperwork, he guides us through what it takes to validate Black and queer identities in the eyes of the law. With laughter, music, and a healthy dose of care, NO I.D. is a love letter to gender transitions and an examination of how challenging the experience can be for young trans people.
18th April-6th May
August in England
I first saw Lenny Henry on stage back in 2019 when he starred in King Hedley II at Theatre Royal Stratford East. He played a smooth-talking hustler in 1980s America, so I’m looking forward to watching him tell a story set a little closer to home. Starring and also written by Henry, August in England is based on stories from the Windrush scandal. He plays a charming man called August Henderson who lives in the Midlands and has 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 the UK 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 if you want to learn about those affected by the scandal.
25th April-10th June
The Old Vic
The 90s classic starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell was a hard act to follow, but the musical adaption of Groundhog Day won an Oliver Award back in 2017. Now, the acclaimed show returns to London with a fresh cast – and Andy Karl in his award-winning role as Phil Connors. As the story goes, Phil is a pretty awful guy. But when the cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman is sent to cover the kooky annual Groundhog Day event in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he finds himself caught in a time loop that sends him on a hilarious path to enlightenment and redemption. I'm most excited to see the set design and how Karl very quickly loses his cool...
20th May-12th August
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play
It’s Mean Girls (arguably Lindsay Lohan's most iconic film). But instead of Cady Heron versus Regina George and The Plastics, this drama takes place in 1980s Ghana. At the prestigious Aburi Girls Boarding School, Queen Bee Paulina and her crew excitedly await the arrival of the Miss Ghana pageant recruiter. It’s clear that Paulina is in top position to take the title until her place is threatened by Ericka – a beautiful and talented new transfer student. As the friendship group’s status quo is upended, who will be chosen for Miss Ghana and at what cost? It's comforting to know that teenagers around the world all experience these universal similarities – and glaring differences.
8th June-15th July
Duke of York Theatre
Lily Allen received rave reviews when she starred in 2:22 – A Ghost Story a couple of years ago. I missed out on tickets but I won't be missing this new adaptation which sounds equally gripping, creepy and funny. The singer-songwriter turned actor is set to star in Martin McDonagh’s black comedy, The Pillowman. She’ll be joined by Steve Pemberton, who many will remember as the hapless and scheming Kevin in series one of Happy Valley. The play is set 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
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Stratford’s Theatre Royal is one of my favourite small venues in the capital, which is just as well as it’s also my local. I’m looking forward to seeing Jonathan Harvey's coming-out and coming-of-age story on the stage. Set on a south London estate in the 90s, the play is about two teenage boys, Ste and Jamie. Jamie is more knowledgeable about The Sound of Music than football, while classmate Ste never misses a sports day. Both are being bullied, Jamie at school and Ste at home by his violent father and brother. One night, when things get too much, Ste seeks refuge in Jamie's flat and, sharing a bed, the boys strike up a new relationship. Together they come to terms with their sexuality and explore their feelings with the much-needed emotional support of Jamie's mother, Sandra.
8th September-7th October