The 10 best new London theatre openings in July

As we enter the high summer months the big West End musicals are slowing down, but London theatre as a whole continues to be prolific, eclectic and thrilling. From the long-awaited UK arrival of Jeremy O Harris’s wildly provocative race relations comedy ‘Slave Play’ to a three-show barnstormer of month at the National Theatre, there’s plenty to get your teeth into.

Slave Play, Noël Coward Theatre, 2024
Photo: Olivia Lifunglia

1. Slave Play

Jeremy O Harris’s incendiary play about a series of interracial couples who use radical slavery-based roleplay to try and pep up their flagging sex lives was a huge – and hugely unexpected – hit in his native US, but has been a long time coming over to us. Finally, though, it’s here, a remount of the original production with a cast comprised of veterans of the US show and a new infusion of Brits led by Kit Harington.

Jun 29-Sep 21 Noël Coward Theatre. Buy tickets here.

The Grapes of Wrath, National Theatre, 2024
Photo: David Ryle

2. Mnemonic/The Hot Wing King/The Grapes of Wrath

The National Theatre has an opening in each of its three theatres this month, and frankly they all look awesome. A lavish new stage take on ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (pictured) starring Broadway and ‘Succession’ legend Cherry Jones is the big summer blockbuster; Kaitori Hall’s Pulitzer-winner ‘The Hot Wing King’ is for the cooler new-writing kids; the real jewel in the season’s crown is almost certainly the revival of the pioneering theatre company Complicité’s revered, unclassifiable masterpiece ‘Mnemonic’.

Mnemonic: National Theatre, Lyttelton, until Aug 10.

The Hot Wing King: National Theatre, Dorfman, 

The Grapes of Wrath: National Theatre, Olivier, Jul 17-Sep 14.

ECHO, Royal Court, LIFT, 2024
Photo: Royal Court


Running at the Royal Court for two weeks as the centrepiece of LIFT festival, ‘ECHO’ is the latest work from Iranian theatremaker Nassim Solimanpour, best known for his enduring show ‘White Rabbit, Red Rabbit’. Like that, ‘ECHO’ will have Solimanpour’s trademark flourish of being performed by a different unrehearsed celebrity performer each night: the first confirmed performers are Kathryn Hunter, Toby Jones, Fiona Shaw, Meera Syal and Rebecca Lucy Taylor. The nature of the show is such that we receive relatively little information about it beforehand, but it will apparently explore what it means to be ‘an immigrant in time’.

Royal Court Theatre, Jul 13-27. Buy tickets here.

Hello, Dolly!, rehearsal pic 2024
Photo: Manuel Harlan

4. Hello, Dolly!

Star Imelda Staunton and director Dominic Cooke have been trying to get this lavish revival of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s classic 1964 musical about a busybody socialite matchmaker off the ground for years. It was originally supposed to have a longer run in a smaller theatre back in 2020 but was scrapped for obvious reasons; now it’s back for a summer at the enormous Palladium. Reuniting the star and director of the National Theatre’s superlative revival of Sondheim’s ‘Follies’, expect a seriously classy summer show.

London Palladium, Jul 6-Sep 21. Buy tickets here.

Fuerza Bruta: Aven, 2024
Photo: Mejorado

5. Fuerza Bruta: Aven

Literally nobody has played more shows at the Roundhouse than thrilling Argentine physical theatre company Fuerza Bruta and its previous incarnation De La Guarda. But it’s been 11 long years since they were last seen on these shores – in large part because for years there was only one Fuerza Bruta show. Well now there’s two: second outing ‘Aven’ is billed as ‘the happiest show on Earth’: expect a night of pulse pounding thrills and spectacular setpieces.

Roundhouse, Jul 9-Aug 31. Buy tickets here.

Paapa Essiedu, 2024
Photo: Seamus Ryan

6. Death of England trilogy

Clint Dyer and Roy Williams’s state of the nation ‘Death of England’ trilogy was always crying out to have the plays remounted together, and here they are in a summer season at @sohoplace with a brand new cast. Thomas Coombes will play white, working class Ralph with Paapa Essiedu (pictured) as his Black best friend Delroy; in ‘Death of England: Closing Time’ Erin Doherty and Sharon Brewster-Duncan will star as Delroy’s girlfriend Carly and mum Denise.

@sohoplace, Jul 15-Sep 28. Buy tickets here.

Skeleton Crew, Donmar Warehouse, 2024
Photo: Helen Murray

7. Skeleton Crew

Dominique Morisseau’s play about the last remaining workers at an ailing Detroit auto factory garnered great reviews and a clutch of Tony nominations for its short Broadway run – now ‘Skeleton Crew’ comes to the Donmar in a new production directed by Matthew Xia, the final play of Michael Longhurst’s tenure at the theatre.

Donmar Warehouse, until Aug 24.

Fangirls, Lyric Hammersmith, 2024
Photo: Lyric Hammersmith

8. Fangirls

This Aussie musical about a 14-year-old stan of a very popular singer named Harry has been a roaring success back in creator Yve Blake’s home country and now it makes its UK debut. The accents may be Antipodean, but its smart dissection of the nature of modern fandom feels perfectly suited to London’s summer of Taylor Swift.

Lyric Hammersmith, Jul 13-Aug 24. Buy tickets here.

Red Speedo, Orange Tree Theatre, 2024
Photo: Ali Wright

9. Red Speedo

Big-shot director Matthew Dunster makes a rare return to one of London’s smaller stages as he directs the UK premiere of hip American playwright Lucas Hnath’s thriller about a swimming star who gets caught up in a drugs scandal. Finn Cole of ‘Peaky Blinders’ fame directs.

Orange Tree Theatre, Jul 13-Aug 10.

The Baker’s Wife, Menier Chocolate Factory, 2024
Photo: Tristram Kenton

10. The Baker’s Wife

Somewhere in the years between his blockbusters ‘Godspell’ and ‘Wicked’, super-composer Stephen Schwartz wrote ‘The Baker’s Wife’, a musical about a French village baker whose young wife has an affair with a hot chauffeur. It wasn’t what you’d call ‘successful’, but there’s no better theatre than the Menier for reviving a musical curio that never got its due – this production is well worth a look for musicals buffs.

Menier Chocolate Factory, Jul 6-Sep 14. Buy tickets here.

The best new London theatre shows to book for in 2024.

The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season.