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Culture in London to book for spring 2023: from Portraits of Dogs to Fast X and A Little Life

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(es)

EXHIBITIONS

The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance

Shedding new light on one of the most unforgettable paintings in the National’s Collection: Quinten Massys’ An Old Woman (c.1513), this show looks at pioneering secular and satirical art, and the Renaissance’s attitudes towards older women (sigh).

National Gallery, to June 11

Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South

Lonnie Holly, Keeping a Record of It (Harmful Music), 1986 (ARS, NY and DACS, London)
Lonnie Holly, Keeping a Record of It (Harmful Music), 1986 (ARS, NY and DACS, London)

A showcase of unique African American artistic traditions and methods of visual storytelling, with artworks from the mid-20th century to the present which reverberate with the South’s painful history.

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Royal Academy, to June 18

After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art

A journey through the European art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, starting with pioneers like Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Rodin and ending with Expressionism to Cubism and Abstraction.

National Gallery, to August 13

Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney

 (The Trustees of The Wallace Collection)
(The Trustees of The Wallace Collection)

Good boy! Over 50 paintings, sculptures and drawings, from artists across the centuries including Gainsborough to Hockney, have been brought together to celebrate man’s best friend.

The Wallace Collection, March 29 to October 15

The Rossettis

This major exhibition will chart the romance and radicalism of the Rossetti generation – Dante Gabriel, Christina and Elizabeth (neé Siddal) – showcasing their revolutionary approach to life, love and art.

Tate Britain, April 6 to September 24

Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian

Hilma af Klint, The Ten Largest, Group IV, No. 3, Youth, 1907 (Courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation)
Hilma af Klint, The Ten Largest, Group IV, No. 3, Youth, 1907 (Courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation)

Although they never met, the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint and Dutch painter Piet Mondrian both invented their own languages of abstract art rooted in nature and shared a desire to understand the forces behind life on earth. This show brings them together.

Tate Modern, April 20 to September 3

Style and Society: Dressing the Georgians

Feast on the Bridgerton look through paintings, prints, drawings, miniatures, books, jewellery, fans and textile in this show exploring Georgian clothing from the practical dress of laundry maids to glittering court gowns.

Royal Collection, April 21 to October 8

Isaac Julien

Isaac Julien, The Lady of the Lake (Lessons of the Hour), 2019 (Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro)
Isaac Julien, The Lady of the Lake (Lessons of the Hour), 2019 (Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro)

The first major exhibition for this most compelling of film artists, which charts his work from the early 1980s to the present day, to explore themes of desire, history and culture.

Tate Britain, April 27 to August 20

Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece

Through exquisite objects from across the world – from Afghanistan to Italy, Bulgaria to Turkey – this show will explore the relationship between luxury and power in the Middle East and southeast Europe between 550 BC and 30 BC, just pre-Alexander the Great.

British Museum, May 4 to August 13

St Francis of Assisi

El Greco, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, 1590-95 (National Gallery of Ireland)
El Greco, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, 1590-95 (National Gallery of Ireland)

The first major art exhibition in the UK to explore the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), whose spiritual radicalism, commitment to the poor, love of nature and openness to dialogue with other religions make him a figure of enormous relevance to our times.

National Gallery, May 6 to July 30

THEATRE

Berlusconi

The new musical about the bunga bunga-loving Italian premier opens Southwark’s new venue. Written by Ricky Simmonds and Simon Vaughan, it’s produced by Francesca (Fleabag) Moody. Sure to be a riot.

Southwark Playhouse Elephant, March 29 to April 29

A Little Life

James Norton (Jude), Luke Thompson (Willem) in A Little Life (Jan Versweyveld)
James Norton (Jude), Luke Thompson (Willem) in A Little Life (Jan Versweyveld)

James Norton, Omari Douglas and Luke Thompson star in director Ivo van Hove’s take on Hanya Yanagihara’s weighty and heartbreaking bestselling novel about four college friends in New York City.

Harold Pinter Theatre, March 30 to June 18

Ain’t Too Proud

The Tony Award-winning musical about the Temptations’ journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame arrives in the West End with hits like My Girl and Papa Was a Rolling Stone.

Prince Edward Theatre, March 31, booking until October 1

Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial

Lucy May Barker (Rebekah Vardy) and Laura Dos Santos (Coleen Rooney) in Vardy V Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial (©Tristram Kenton)
Lucy May Barker (Rebekah Vardy) and Laura Dos Santos (Coleen Rooney) in Vardy V Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial (©Tristram Kenton)

The trial of the century transfers to the Ambassadors. Based on the court transcripts with humorous asides from pundits filling in the gaps, book your tickets……… now

Ambassadors Theatre, April 6 to May 20

Dancing at Lughnasa

Josie Rourke revives Brian Friel’s play about an Irish family’s world on the brink of change, with a cast including Derry Girls’ Siobhan McSweeney, and Ardal O’Hanlon.

National Theatre, April 18 to May 27

Village Idiot

A comedy about a village – “it’s not quite the Cotswolds, not quite one of those posh villages Americans have in movies” – that’s having a high-speed rail line driven through it because the townies want a lie in. Written by Samson Hawkins and directed by Nadia Fall.

Theatre Royal Stratford East, April 19 to May 6

The Good Person of Szechwan

This is a new version of Brecht’s play about the cost of being good, written by Nina Segal and directed by Anthony Lau.

Lyric Hammersmith, April 20 to May 13

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction

Katie Mitchell directs Lydia West, from It’s a Sin, in Miranda Rose-Hall’s one woman show. It’s a sustainable touring production with Headlong, where the play is mounted at each venue with a local actor and creatives using sustainability guidelines.

Barbican, April 26 to 29

Richard III

Adjoa Andoh (Dave Benett)
Adjoa Andoh (Dave Benett)

Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh directs and stars as Shakespeare’s antihero king, exploring the story and the question of what happens to a person if bad intentions are ascribed to them based on their appearance.

Rose Theatre, April 27 to May 13

The Motive and the Cue

A Jack Thorne play directed by Sam Mendes? Yes please. This is about the making of Richard Burton and John Gielgud’s Hamlet with Johnny Flynn as Burton – then newly married to Elizabeth Taylor (Tuppence Middleton) – and Mark Gatiss as Gielgud.

National Theatre, May 2 to June 10

August in England

Lenny Henry (handout)
Lenny Henry (handout)

Written and performed by Lenny Henry, and directed by Lynette Linton and Daniel Bailey, this looks at a life impacted by the injustice of the Windrush scandal.

Bush Theatre, May 3 to June 10

Operation Mincemeat

 (handout)
(handout)

This extraordinary show, a comedy musical based on the true story of a secret mission by British operatives that helped win the Second World War, has grown and grown. Now it’s heading to the West End it will hopefully bring in the wider audience it deserves.

Fortune Theatre, May 10 to June 8

Once on this Island

A musical Caribbean story about love, grief, faith and hope by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, directed by Ola Ince.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, May 17 to  June 10

Aspects of Love

More than three decades after starring in the original West End run, Michael Ball returns in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, which has been reimagined for the 21st century by director Jonathan Kent.

Lyric Shaftesbury Avenue, May 25 to November 11

FILM

God’s Creatures

 (handout)
(handout)

Paul Mescal and Emily Watson... Where do we sign up? This devastating-sounding drama set in a windswept Irish fishing village follows the fallout of a lie a mother tells to protect her beloved son. Hankies at the ready.

March 31

Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

Carrying with it the advantage that all other attempts at D&D movies have been rubbish, we’re hoping this one is going to right all the wrongs. Rege-Jean Page (Bridgerton), stars alongside Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and… Hugh Grant?

March 31

Super Mario Bros

Just in time to give you a couple of hours’ respite from the kids at the start of the Easter holidays comes this brightly-coloured, frenetic tale of the world’s most famous plumbers. You know the drill with this one.

April 7

Renfield

 (handout)
(handout)

In which Nicholas Hoult plays Dracula’s dogsbody, with the woman of his dreams brought to life by Awkwafina, which makes it merely a bonus that Nic Cage, who was born to play a brooding blood-sucker, has been cast as the Count.

April 14

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Rachel Joyce’s best-selling novel about an elderly man walking his way to a very mild kind of redemption has reached the big screen and if you hadn’t already guessed that Jim Broadbent is in the leading role, have you even seen a British film?

April 28

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

 (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)
(Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The trailer for this Marvel threequel is a goofy joy and who could ask for more than that Maria Bakalova (Borat 2) will be the voice of Cosmo the Space Dog. This is goodbye from the gang, because director James Gunn has thrown in his lot with DC.

May 5

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Calling no-longer-teenage girls everywhere, Judy Blume’s seminal novel about young female friendship, periods, bras and boys (and religion, sort of) is coming to the big screen. So all those places that banned it (really) are going to have a fit.

May 19

Fast X

The series hasn’t run out of road yet in its 10th instalment (it supposedly culminates in the 11th and final one), so Fasten your seatbelts as the team led by Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto saves the world once again with a series of ever more ridiculous vehicular stunts.

May 19

The Little Mermaid

 (The Little Mermaid/Disney/YouTube)
(The Little Mermaid/Disney/YouTube)

Rob Marshall’s live-action opus features new music from producer Lin-Manuel Miranda and stars 22-year-old actress-singer Halle Bailey as Ariel. And we can’t wait for Melissa McCarthy (doing her own singing) as Ursula.

May 26

DANCE

Cinderella

 (Sebastian Nevols)
(Sebastian Nevols)

Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella celebrates its 75th anniversary this season and returns with a new production, done with the National Ballet of Canada, after more than decade away from the Covent Garden stage.

Royal Opera House, March 27 to May 3

Akram Khan Company: Jungle Book Reimagined

Set, inevitably, in the context of disastrous climate change, Khan’s reimagining of Kipling’s classic is harder hitting than you might expect, and the skill of the choreography and dancing carry it through.

Sadler’s Wells, April 4-15

The Sleeping Beauty

 (Andrej Uspenski)
(Andrej Uspenski)

This lavish Royal Ballet classic makes up in Frederick Ashton’s ravishing choreography and Oliver Messel’s sumptuous designs what it lacks in third-act action. Prepare to be swept away to a fairytale realm.

Royal Opera House, May 6 to June 6

Universe: A Dark Crystal Odyssey

Wayne McGregor, in association with The Jim Henson Company, adapts the iconic 1982 movie about a reluctant hero who must bring healing to his world into a brand new ballet.

Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre, May 13 to June 4

OPERA

Akhnaten

 (Belinda Jiao)
(Belinda Jiao)

This hallucinatory revival of Philip Glass’s utterly crackers 1984 opera, starring Anthony Roth Costanza, reminds you that at its best, ENO is capable of delivering some of the boldest, most exciting productions on our operatic stages.

ENO, to April 5

The Dead City

Annilese Miskimmon’s second directorial outing for ENO blurs the lines of remembrance and obsession in Eric Wolfgang Korngold’s cult classic, Die Tote Stadt. Rolf Romei is the grieving Paul, alongside Allison Oakes who takes on Marie/Marietta. Kirill Karabits conducts.

ENO, to April 8

Turandot

This almost unbelievably lavish staging of the classic opera is an absolute blazing knockout and, helmed by outgoing music director Antonio Pappano, feels like a generous parting gift to the company he has led for two decades.

Royal Opera House, to April 13

Blue

Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s new work asks questions of race, duty and loyalty in a story of an African American family, where a father’s job as a policeman clashes with his activist son’s notions of equality and justice. Tinuke Craig directs.

ENO, April 20 to May 4

Wozzeck

Alban Berg’s searing operatic masterpiece about a man trapped in a brutal and brutalising system caused a scandal at its 1925 premiere and was suppressed during the Nazi era. It retains all its relevance today, in a new staging by Deborah Warner.

Royal Opera House, May 19 to June 7