remember these names: from the latest addition to Bridgerton’s epic ensemble crew to the first-timer who’s going to hit one of this year’s most anticipated literary adaptations and the comic that earns Fleabag comparisons and five-star reviews over time, these are the rising stars, all of which will buzz in 2022 …
The 26-year-old Simone Ashley replaces the corridors at Sex Education’s Moordale High with Queen Charlotte’s gossip court and will take the lead role in the long-awaited second series of Bridgerton, where she picks up the baton from Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor (no pressure there then). She is set to play Kate Sharma, a new arrival to Ton and potential love interest for the eldest Bridgerton brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey). You might also recognize Ashley, who attended the same Berkshire theater school as Kate Winslet, from her previous roles in the third series of Broadchurch and in the ITV thriller The Sister.
As well as returning to the third and final series of Derry Girls as James, the band’s token boy (did you cry when he stood on the city wall to proclaim ‘I AM A DERRY GIRL’ during Bill Clinton’s visit to the S2 Finals, or is you emotionally well-adjusted?) Dylan Llewellyn stars in another Channel 4 series, Big Boys, and plays one half of an unlikely pair of friends in this semi-autobiographical comedy from Jack Rooke. He will also appear in Pistol, Danny Boyle’s latest TV project, as Wally Nightingale, the founding member and guitarist of the band that became the Sex Pistols (which were pushed out just before they became infamous). Not bad for a little English guy.
The BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s hit novel Normal People caused the profiles of its stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, relatively unknown before the show aired, to skyrocket. The same will certainly happen for Irish newcomer Alison Oliver, who will play the protagonist Frances in the TV version of Rooney’s debut Conversations With Friends alongside people like Jemima Church and Joe Alwyn. The series, which airs later this year on BBC Three, marks Oliver’s screen debut; Like Mescal, she is a graduate of Lir Academy, Dublin’s prestigious drama school.
When it comes to theater, Ria Zmitrowicz has once again proven that she is capable of bringing the heart to any drama. Whether it’s in Lucy Kirkwood’s The Welkin at the National Theater or Dance Nation and The Doctor at the Almeida, she brings a knotty and vulnerability that the rest of the play is able to revolve around. She’s been doing brilliant work in the theater for a while now and has also starred in the TV drama Three Girls, based on the true story of shocking sexual abuse in Rochdale, but 2022 looks set to be the year her talent reaches out. to a wider audience. In January, she will star in Alistair McDowell’s The Glow at the Royal Court, about a woman picked up from a Victorian asylum to act as an assistant to a spiritualist media; later this year, she will star in Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s women’s award-winning novel, The Power, alongside Tim Robbins and Leslie Mann.
“Do everything legal you can think of to get a ticket,” our critic Bruce Dessau said of Liz Kingsman’s One Woman Show. Kingsman’s show at Soho, filled with the holy grail of five-star reviews and feverish word-of-mouth calm, was extended before it was completely sold out, and will now triumphantly return to Soho’s main stage in January for another tour. Kingsman, who is also a member of the sketch group Massive Dad, wrote and starred in this delightfully mischievous satire about the character trope of crooked thieves-women shaking their disillusionment with late capitalism and patriarchy away. But it was more than just a pis-take: it showed smartly that even though we think we have moved on in terms of representation, women who want their work to be seen and understood are often still frustratingly trapped of tropics – they may just not be the same as before.
Out on the cunning, windy moors, a new Heathcliff is on its way. Ash Hunter will play the naughty boy from the Bronte country in Emma Rice’s exciting new adaptation of Wuthering Heights at the National Theater in February. The show, which stars Lucy McCormick as Cathy, has already opened at Bristol Old Vic for a wave of wonderful reviews – and awarded it five stars, The Times called it “emotionally epic entertainment”, with Hunter’s performance described as “as a resolute unforgivable bruise “. He’s built a name for himself for some time – he’s had TV roles in Bridgerton and Harlots and played Alexander Hamilton in the West End – and 2022 looks set to launch his star even further.