Although January is traditionally one of the slower months of the year for new London theatre openings, a combination of delayed December shows and the vagaries of celebrity timetables means it’s surprisingly chocka with big names, even if it’s a bit quieter at the smaller end.
January 2024 sees screen stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Sarah Snook make their West End debuts, alongside more traditional start-of-year fodder, including Cirque du Soleil’s usual stand at the Royal Albert Hall and MimeLondon, a sort of more informal relaunch of the long-running London International Mime Festival.
With ‘Succession’ wrapped up, its stars are now free to rejoin the theatre world again: Brian Cox will be hitting the West End later in 2024 (and Jeremy Strong starring on Broadway), but first here’s Sarah Snook with this high-tech, one-woman adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s horror novella ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. It scored great reviews in Sydney with a different lead actress; now director Kip Williams brings his adaptation to London with the added celebrity juice of Snook.
Theatre Royal Haymarket, Jan 23-Apr 13.
The London International Mime Festival was a true icon of the city, one that brought weird and wild physical theatre from all across the globe – rarely ‘mime’ in the stereotypical sense – to the capital for 47 years straight. The 2023 edition was its last, but MimeLondon is kind of the same idea in all but name, being a project taking in the same sort of shows, at the same venues, curated by LIMF directors Helen Lannaghan and Joseph Seelig. There’s slightly less work and it’s a bit more spread out, but in essence it as if LIMF never went away.
Various venues, Jan 8-Feb 18. See full listings here.
3. Plaza Suite
Yes, the Broadway reviews were tepid, and yes, the top ticket prices are borderline unconscionable. But there’s no denying that the very belated UK stage debut of Sarah Jessica Parker feels like an event. She stars with hubby Matthew Broderick in this Neil Simon comedy in which the pair play a trio of different newlyweds, each checking into the same titular honeymoon suite.
Savoy Theatre, Jan 15-Mar 31.
Charlie Josephine’s gender-fluid RSC Western scored great reviews at Stratford-upon-Avon in the autumn of 2023 and was exceptionally conveniently placed to be parachuted into the Royal Court at the last minute after ‘Dana H’ – the planned final show of Vicky Featherstone’s tenure – was cancelled as a result of complications following on from the Hollywood writers’ strike. Now it rides into town to liven up our January.
Royal Court Theatre, Jan 11-Feb 10. Buy tickets here.
Postponed for over a month – it was due to open in the first week of December, but delayed due to illness – Paul Unwin’s play is a dramatisation of the titular famous ongoing poltergeist activity that allegedly plagued a flat in Enfield for two years in the late ’70s. Catherine Tate and David Thewlis star.
Ambassadors Theatre, until Mar 2.
Cirque du Soleil’s annual stand at the Royal Albert Hall is simply a fixture of the calendar at this point, as inevitable as the turn of the seasons. As a rule you either like the Quebec titans’ spectacular acobatics and slightly naff humour or it leaves you cold. But this reworked version of a ’90s hit is, by all accounts, a good ’un.
Royal Albert Hall, Jan 11-Mar 3. Buy tickets here.
This remarkable-sounding show probably doesn’t really count as theatre, but nonethless, we’d be remiss not to recommend it just because it falls through the cracks a little. It’s essentially a concert by the late, great Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, recorded prior to his death and now presented as an AR-enhanced experience that’s wowed audiences in New York and Manchester.
Roundhouse, until Jan 21.
A thrilling chance to see storied physical theatre company Gecko make its National Theatre debut with this new work about refugees, that’s also part of MimeLondon. The NT also has a second new opening, as Beth Steel makes her debut there with new family drama ‘Till the Stars Fall Down’.
National Theatre. Kin: Jan 12-27; Till the Stars Come Down: Jan 24-Mar 16.
We’re about 75 percent sure that Shakespeare’s racially charged tragedy is the first of the Bard’s works to be staged twice in the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Ola Ince’s production comes with the intriguing conceit of featuring both an Othello (Ken Nwosu) and a Subconscious Othello (Ira Mandela Siobhan) – no idea how this is going to play out, although Siobhan is essentially a dancer, suggesting his won’t be a speaking role.
Shakespeare’s Globe, Jan 19-Apr 13. Buy tickets here.
This wilfully trashy marriage of the ‘naughty’ late ’90s high school remake of ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ and a bewilderingly electic range of chart hits from the same decade is not aiming for classy sophistication, subtlety or to still be remembered in a year. It does, however, look like a lot of fun.
The Other Palace, Jan 11-Apr 14. Buy tickets here.