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Top 12 new plays to see in 2020

Some of the most exciting drama to look forward to in the new year

The cast of Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre
© Seamus Ryan

2020 looks set to be a year for intriguing and entertaining drama, so with that in mind here is a selection of new plays from around the country that have caught the eye. Featuring well-established writers as well as some exciting debuts, these plays ought to arouse curiosity and provoke conversation.



Winsome Pinnock – Rockets and Blue Lights

Rockets and Blue Lights at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
© Lee Baxter

Recently announced as part of Sarah Frankcom's outgoing season at the Royal Exchange, Winsome Pinnock's play won the 2018 Alfred Fagon award. This production represents the first time the story has made it to the stage, over a year after it was announced as the prize winner. 12 March to 4 April – The Royal Exchange


Lucy Kirkwood – The Welkin

The Welkin
© National Theatre Graphic Design Studio, photography by Felicity McCaeb

Lucy Kirkwood is a British playwright who at this point in her career needs little introduction. Her last play Mosquitoes was staged at the National Theatre and this newest work, starring Maxine Peake, will be produced at the same venue. It follows a woman about to be sentenced by a jury of 12 matrons. 15 January to 23 May – National Theatre


Miriam Battye – Scenes With Girls

Scenes With Girls
© Helen Murray

Bristol-based Mancunian writer Miriam Battye has penned a new play for her London premiere at the Royal Court. True to its name, the production features 22 scenes centred on best friends Tosh and Lou. 15 January to 22 February – Royal Court


Beth Steel – The House of Shades

Nottingham playwright Beth Steel has previously explored Britain's industrial landscapes in her plays and this upcoming world premiere at the Almeida follows a similar path. Set over five decades from 1965 to 2016, The House of Shades portrays one working-class family's attempt to navigate the shifting world that surrounds them. 18 May to 27 June – Almeida Theatre


Archie Maddocks – A Place For We

A Place For We
(© Park Theatre)

The world premiere of playwright and comedian Archie Maddocks' A Place For We arrives at the Park theatre in mid-2020. A response to the Windrush scandal, the story offers a tragic but nonetheless humorous mirror to British society. 6 May to 6 June – Park Theatre


Chloe Moss – Run Sister Run

Run Sister Run
© Soho Theatre, Paines Plough and Sheffield Theatres

Both Soho Theatre and Sheffield Theatres have a reputation for supporting new and exciting writing so it should be little surprise that their 2020 calendar is stacked with intriguing drama. Run Sister Run looks to be exactly that, a story portraying two sisters' shifting relationship over four decades. Thu 27 Feb to Sat 21 March – Sheffield Theatres, 25 March to 2 May – Soho Theatre


Tom Stoppard – Leopoldstadt

Playwright legend Tom Stoppard is bringing a pertinent new play to the West End – we haven't heard from the playwright in a while so this will surely be a big theatrical occasion. The cast is big, and features the likes of Adrian Scarborough, Ed Stoppard and Faye Castelow. 25 January to 13 June – Wyndham's Theatre


Sally Abbott – I Think We Are Alone

I Think We Are Alone
(© Perou)

Trailblazing theatre company Frantic Assembly celebrates its 25th anniversary next year and is commemorating such a milestone with a new play from Sally Abbott. The production will be staged at some of the country's most established regional venues, such as Leicester's Curve and Bristol's Old Vic. 3 February to 16 May – nationwide tour


Conor McPherson – Uncle Vanya

Conor McPherson is already ruling the West End with the return of Girl from the North Country, but with a star-studded new adaptation of Chekhov's classic Uncle Vanya opening in the new year, things look set to continue apace! You can catch the piece at the Harold Pinter, with Toby Jones and Richard Armitage (making a long overdue West End return) starring. 14 January to 2 May – Harold Pinter Theatre


Temi Wilkey – The High Table

The High Table
© Bronwen Sharp

Temi Wilkey is most commonly known as an established actor, with her most recent performance in Land Without Dreams garnering critical praise in WOS's November review. The High Table is her playwrighting debut and it will be fascinating to see how her spiritual family drama is received early next year. 8 February to 21 March – Bush Theatre


Gareth Farr – Shandyland

Inspired by the closure of Britain's working-class pubs, Shandyland is Gareth Farr's impassioned recognition of the positive influence that such social spaces can have in local communities. Farr is a proud Northerner, so this production feels all the more emotive for being produced by and premiered at Northern Stage. 12 May to 4 July – Northern Stage and then touring

Shandyland
© Ed Clark


Tonderai Munyevu – Mugabe, My Dad & Me

Born in Zimbabwe two years after the country gained official independence, Tonderai Munyevu's one-man play depicts the changing fortunes of his country and his family up until Robert Mugabe's eventual resignation after nearly 40 years in power. The intimacy of York Theatre Royal's Studio space should render this a powerful and emotionally charged performance. 15 May to 30 May – York Theatre Royal

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