Despite Covid uncertainty, London’s cultural scene is set for a jam-packed opening to 2022. We collect our top picks for the first few months of the year.
The Collaboration, Young Vic
The last few years have seen blockbuster London retrospectives of both Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In this new play starring Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope, playwright Anthony McCarten imagines what their real-life collaborative workshops might have looked like, with mortality looming for both men.
• From 16 February
Wuthering Heights, National Theatre
Playwright and artistic director Emma Rice was too punk for The Globe theatre – now she’s bringing a punk adaptation of Emily Brontë’s haunting masterpiece to the National Theatre. This prospect is made even more enticing by the involvement of performance artist Lucy McCormick as Catherine. Anarchy in the UK.
• From 3 February
The Burnt City, Punchdrunk Theatre
Punchdrunk is the godfather of immersive theatre, often imitated but never surpassed. After reinventing the genre with 2003’s Sleep No More, Punchdrunk has been sporadic in its endeavours, most recently performing the excellent The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable in a sprawling Paddington postal office. Next up is a piece about the fall of Troy based on Aeschylus’s Agamemnon and Euripides’s Hecuba. It will be based close to Woolwich and we could not be more excited.
• From 22 March
Prima Facie, Harold Pinter Theatre
Since her starring role in Killing Eve, Jodie Comer has rarely been off screen. Her role in Suzie Miller drama Prima Facie will, however, be her West End debut. Taking the form of a monologue, it follows a young barrister whose world is shattered when she is raped.
• From 15 April
Jerusalem, Apollo Shaftesbury
This revival of Jez Butterworth’s multi-multi-award-winning 2009 play will see Mark Rylance reprise his role as Rooster. This is a bona fide modern classic, a play that will be studied in universities for centuries to come – take this opportunity to see it.
• From 16 April
A Number, Old Vic
Caryl Churchill, one of the most talented – not to mention prolific – modern British playwrights, has already seen one adaptation of her seminal play A Number performed in recent years – an exceptional version at the Bridge Theatre. This time Lennie James and Paapa Essiedu take the reins at the Old Vic.
• From 24 January
Francis Bacon, Royal Academy
Francis Bacon’s brand of surreal self-loathing is just the exhibition we need following two years of isolated introspection. Featuring some of his most famous works depicting twisted beasts and bestial men, this will be one of the exhibitions of the year.
• From 29 January
Bob Marley One Love, Saatchi Gallery
Ever since the V&A hosted its blockbuster David Bowie exhibition, institutions have been falling over themselves to chronicle the lives of our most talented creators. The Design Museum is currently hosting an Amy Winehouse exhibition, and now the Saatchi Gallery is getting involved with a celebration of all things Bob Marley.
• From 2 February
Louise Bourgeois, Hayward Gallery
The Tate Modern arrived in the national consciousness alongside the vast, foreboding spider sculptures of Louise Bourgeois. More than two decades later, the Hayward Gallery will reveal a lesser-known side to this titan of the modern artistic establishment. Focusing on her work with fabric, The Woven Child collects pieces created on items including napkins and bed linen, exploring the artist’s familiar themes of sexuality, trauma, memory and guilt.
• From 9 February
Surrealism Beyond Borders, Tate Modern
When we think ‘surrealism’, names like Dali and Brunel tend to spring to mind. The Tate Modern attempts to broaden our surreal horizons with an exhibition collecting works from 50 countries and spanning more than 80 years.
• From 24 February
Scream is the franchise that, like its lead cast-members, just won’t die. It returns for its fifth instalment directed not by series creator Wes Craven but by punky young horror directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the minds behind Ready or Not and V/H/S. Promising to be both a reboot and a continuation of Scream 4, we’re here for this ride no matter what.
• From 14 January
Robert Pattinson makes his much-vaunted debut as the Caped Crusader in The Batman, a take on the superhero that promises to be even darker and grittier than Christopher Nolan’s version. Pattinson’s career has been virtually flawless since Twilight and this looks set to be another winner.
• From 4 March
Paul Thomas Anderson – PTA to his fans – might just be the best filmmaker working today, and this heartfelt coming of age drama inspired by his own experiences shows why. It’s a cinematic slush-puppy filmed by a genuine auteur.
• From 14 January
Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical story about his childhood in Northern Ireland is already tipped for the top gongs come awards season, combining sumptuous black and white cinematography with powerful performances from the likes of Jamie Dornan and Judie Dench.
• From 24 January
Guillermo del Toro directing Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Bradley Cooper in a supernatural noir? Take our money, already.
• From 21 January
The Lighthouse was one of the most surprising movies of the last few years, so we’ll be there on opening night for Robert Eggers next film, The Northman. A viking revenge drama starring Alexander Skaarsgard, it promises to be every bit as mad as his last movie, which is music to our ears.
• From 22 April