Ah, all the world’s a stage.
Particularly the big flat bits in front of the seating areas at London’s many theatres. Those parts are particularly stage-like.
And every evening they’re filled with performers ready to enthral, entertain, inspire, and make you laugh, cry, and think. And should you fancy doing any of those things in the near future, we’ve got just the thing to help you navigate yourself to the right place: a freshly updated theatre guide that collates reviews from all the top critics, tells you the best spots for dinner before the show, has a good place for some drinks afterwards, and includes literally dozens of fantastic shows…
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THE BEST MUSICALS IN LONDON
Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical | Lyric Theatre
Craig Sugden Photography
The platinum-selling artist is brought to the stage in this all-new musical directed by NT deputy artistic director, Clint Dyer. A captivating performance by Michael Duke does the legendary man justice, as does a supremely talented on-stage reggae band and all-singing cast. Some critics have pointed out that Marley’s life and philosophy were too deep to be plumbed by a jukebox musical and that the script falls a little short as a result, but if you love his music (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t), it’ll be a great night out.
Dinner before: Thai roadside dining at Kiln
Drinks after: Stay jamming at Rum Kitchen
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Evening Standard 4*
Details: Tickets are on sale for Get Up, Stand Up! at the Lyric Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 8th January 2023. They cost from £15-140, and can be purchased here.
Back To The Future: The Musical | Adelphi Theatre
Future you visited us, and said it was imperative we tell you about this new musical. And to be fair, if you like cult movies, 80s hits and not being in your living room all year again, you’re probably going to enjoy it. Read our full review of Back to the Future: The Musical
Dinner before: Steak at 1985 prices at Flat Iron Covent Garden
Drinks after: Hand-picked wines at Lady of the Grapes
London Theatre Critics say: The Metro 5*, The Telegraph 5*, Michael J. Fox: “A truly great show.”
Details: Back To The Future: The Musical is booking at the Adelphi Theatre (closest tube station Charing Cross) until July 2023. Tickets cost £19.55 – £224.50, and can be booked HERE.
Cabaret | The Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre)
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome to this phenomenal new production of cabaret, directed by the sensationally talented Rebecca Frecknall. For this revival of the classic musical & film, the Playhouse Theatre has been transformed into a giant version of the Kit Kat Club, where (the lucky few, at least) can sip cocktails and dine at intimate cabaret tables while the show unfolds. And even if you missed the acclaimed performances by Jessie Buckley and Eddie Redmayne in the leading roles, the new cast – starring Fra Fee as the Emcee and Amy Lennox as Sally Bowles – are just as strong. Plus, you’ll see some of the most beautiful costume design that’s hit London stages in the past few years…
Dinner before: Go fancy at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill
Drinks after: Wine in a candlelit cave at Gordon’s Wine Bar
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Independent 5*; The Telegraph 5*
Details: Cabaret is booking at the Playhouse Theatre (closest tube station Embankment) until 16th December 2022. Tickets cost £30 – £325, and you can book HERE.
Come From Away | Phoenix Theatre
Come From Away isn’t your typical musical. There’s no dazzling lights, or flashy set. The cast are probably less dressed up than the audience. Oh, and the whole toe-tapping, feel-good, soul-lifting story… is about 9/11. Set in the Canadian town of Gander, which hosted 7,000 diverted air passengers in the wake of the attacks, it’s a rousing paean to community spirit and compassion, interlaced with a folk-rock score that’s helped to bag the show four Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical.
Dinner before: London’s best value steak at Flat Iron Denmark Street
Drinks after: Pitch-perfect Italian cocktails at Bar Termini
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*; The Stage 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Come From Away runs at the Phoenix Theatre (closest tube station Tottenham Court Road) until January 7th 2023. Tickets cost £20-125, and can be booked HERE.
Dear Evan Hansen | Noël Coward Theatre
The hugely anticipated broadway transfer of this Tony award-winning musical has finally landed on English shores. It centres around Evan, an American high schooler with social anxiety who finds himself faking an old friendship with a student who recently committed suicide. What follows is a heartbreaking story as relationships are formed, broken, and redeemed, all punctuated with a seriously strong soundtrack. Bring tissues.
Dinner before: Colourful Peruvian at Floral by Lima
Drinks after: Find the hidden bar behind the golden handshake at the St. Martins Lane Hotel
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Dear Evan Hansen runs at the Noël Coward Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 22nd October 2022. Tickets cost £15-177.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre, London
Hamilton might have won 11 Tony Awards for its Broadway run, but the London cast have proved they were ready to Rise Up to the challenge.
Following the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, it’s a pioneering musical that raps its way through history, and within months of playing here, earned a record-breaking 13 Olivier nominations for its troubles…
Dinner before: Al fresco brasserie fare at Rail House Café
Drinks after: Cocktails upstairs at The Ivy Victoria
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Independent 5*; The Stage 5*; The Evening Standard 5*
Details: Tickets are on sale for Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre (closest tube station Victoria) until March 2023. They cost from £47.75-£238, and can be purchased HERE.
Les Misérables | Sondheim Theatre
Do you hear the people sing? Well, you will if you head to Les Mis, an iconic musical based on Victor Hugo’s gloomy revolutionary novel that’s now in its 4th decade. It closed for the first time in 34 years while the theatre got some upgrades (and, er, other global events interfered) – but now it’s back, flying the flag once more with a critically acclaimed new production.
Dinner before: Enjoy classic brasserie fare at Dean Street Townhouse
Drinks after: A drink at The French House seems strangely appropriate
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Les Misérables runs at the Sondheim Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus), with tickets from £10-£165. You can book up until March 2023 right HERE.
Mary Poppins | Prince Edward Theatre
Always knowing exactly when she’s needed, Mary Poppins has flown into town. A sugar-dusted production with dazzling costumes, impressive dance sequences and a glorious soundtrack (obviously), this musical’s the pick-up we all needed.
Dinner before: French food and jazz at Café Boheme opposite
Drinks after: Slip behind the bookcase at Milroy’s
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Mary Poppins runs at the Prince Edward Theatre (closest tube station Tottenham Court Road) until January 2023. Tickets cost £20-125, and can be purchased HERE.
Matilda The Musical | Cambridge Theatre
A show in which a genius-level child with telekinetic powers somehow starts off as an underdog, this long-running musical take on the classic Roald Dahl tale – produced by theatre nobility the RSC – has had critics positively raving. And with good reason too – with lyrics by the inimitable Tim Minchin, ridiculously catchy tunes and a genuinely exceptional cast of kids, there’s not a single hole in this colourful patchwork of song and dance.
Dinner before: Grab a quick bite at Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen
Drinks after: Slip into The Barbary Next Door
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Evening Standard 5*; The Independent 5*
Details: Matilda The Musical is booking at the Cambridge Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 28th May 2023, with tickets running between £20 and £125. You can book them right HERE.
Moulin Rouge! | Piccadilly Theatre
Why should you go see the new production of Moulin Rouge? Because you can can can! This dazzling show has finally transferred from Broadway to London, with an impressive 14 Tony nominations under its belt, a crack team of award-winning producers and creatives (including Baz himself), and an incredible soundtrack of 71 songs…
Dinner before: Keep it French at Brasserie Zédel
Drinks after: Subterranean cocktails at SOMA
London Theatre Critics say: The Independent 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Moulin Rouge! runs at the Piccadilly Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until April 2023. Tickets cost £29.50 – £225, and can be booked HERE.
SIX | Vaudeville Theatre London
Divorced, beheaded, live in concert: it’s the story of Henry VIIIth’s six wives, performed by the queens themselves in the form of a punk girl-band. To say it’s a phenomenon would be to undersell it: it started out as an Edinburgh Fringe show, and has now scored runs in the West End, on Broadway and down in Oz. Expect neon ruffs; Greensleeves-techno mash ups and unexpectedly poignant moments interspersed with its high-energy score.
Dinner before: Cult dumplings at Din Tai Fung
Drinks after: Subterranean cocktails at Eve
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Times 4*
Details: Six is booking at the Vaudeville Theatre (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 2nd April 2023. Tickets cost from £19.50-67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST DRAMA | LONDON THEATRE
The Wonderful World of Dissocia | Stratford East
Anthony Neilson’s superb 2004 play exploring a young woman suffering rom dissociative disorder is back at Stratford East. Despite it’s serious themes it’s a joyous, whimsical piece, which couples surrealist Alice In Wonderland-esque flights of fancy with the stark realities of hospital care. Truly unique, and well worth seeking out.
Dinner before: Clean eating at Silo
Drinks after: Take in the view from Roof East
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 5*; The Guardian 5*
Details: The Wonderful World of Dissocia is playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East until 15th October. Tickets cost £10-£37.50 and can be booked HERE.
Brown Boys Swim | Soho Theatre
Karim Khan’s funny and tender coming of age story about two Muslim teenagers learning to swim in order to impress girls at a schoolmate’s pool party enjoyed a triumphant Edinburgh run in the Pleasance Dome, and won the Popcorn writing award for Best New Play. Now it’s coming to the Soho Theatre’s Upstairs space, and tickets will be hot commodities. A two-hander that explores racism, identity, and friendship – Khan’s play is clever, subtle and important.
Dinner before: You won’t go hungry at Bubala Soho
Drinks after: The Soho Theatre has a pretty great bar itself…
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 4*
Details: Brown Boys Swim is playing at the Soho Theatre from 26th September to 15th October 2022. Tickets cost £14-£21 and can be booked HERE.
The Apology | The Arcola
Presented with support from the National Theatre, and based on true accounts by survivors, Kyo Choi’s play explores the atrocities of the ’comfort women’ forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the Second World War, and the political cover-up that ensued. The piece traces three women’s intertwining narratives, and explores how a nation can apologise for the crimes of its past.
Dinner before: Supa Ya Ramen is close by, and it’s delicious
Drinks after: Get three sheets to the wind at Three Sheets
Details: The Apology is running from 15th September to 8th October 2022. Tickets cost form £12-£30 and are available here.
Ravenscourt | Hampstead Theatre
An alumnus of the Hampstead Theatres’ acclaimed INSPIRE course for emerging playwrights, Georgina Burns’ new piece tells the tale of idealistic mental-health professional Lydia’s attempt to treat the angry and depressed Daniel – trapped in a broken and uncaring public health system. With the odds stacked against them, how much progress can Lydia actually make? Directed by the Hampstead’s Associate Director Tessa Walker (whose previous work in the building includes the superb Big Big Sky).
Dinner before: Cinder will supply a solid meal
Drinks after: You can grab a drink at Soutine
Details: Ravenscourt is playing at the Hampstead theatre from the 23rd September until 29th October. Tickets cost £5-20 and are available HERE
Life of Pi | Wyndham’s Theatre
This show based on Yann Martel’s iconic novel had its debut run in Sheffield, where the critics hailed it as “the next War Horse” – you know, the internationally touring, multi-award-winning, critically acclaimed War Horse. A few stars have been knocked off the reviews since its transfer to London – mostly because this retelling lacks some of the more philosophical, reflective nature of the book – but it remains a spellbinding piece of storytelling, with highly impressive staging.
Dinner before: Get into the sea setting at J. Sheekey
Drinks after: Head to the underground bar at Wun’s Tea Room
Theatre critics say: The Guardian 5*, The Times 5*, The Stage 5*
Details: Life of Pi is booking at Wyndham’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 15th January 2023. Tickets cost from £27.50-127.50, and can be booked HERE.
To Kill A Mockingbird | Gielgud Theatre
The long-awaited Broadway transfer of Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation places Atticus Finch (Rafe Spall) at its heart, a spin that actually saw the Lee estate try to sue. A stellar cast are joined by striking sets and an evocative soundtrack supplied by an on-stage partnership of bellows organ and acoustic guitar. It’s a show that does the classic novel justice, with powerful courtroom scenes providing an indictment of the judicial system which is sadly still relevant.
Dinner before: Zippy Thai counter dining at Kiln
Drinks after: Give the new Nightjar a spin
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 4*
Details: To Kill A Mockingbird runs at the Gielgud Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 19th November (Rafe Spall appearing until 13th August). Tickets cost £15-199.50, and can be booked HERE.
THE BEST COMEDY | LONDON THEATRE
Upstart Crow | Apollo Theatre
Smash-hit Shakespearian silliness returns to the West End, as David Mitchell pops the bald(ing) cap back on and teams up with the joyous Gemma Whelan, in Ben Elton’s Olivier-nominated comedy. The show sees up-and-coming playwright Will Shakespeare in trouble – he’s written but two plays, and desperately needs to cement his legacy! Needless to say, a comedy of errors ensues…
Dinner before: Fallow is a nicely Shakespearean word (and a first class restaurant)
Drinks after: The Blue Posts if you feel like a pint, The Mulwray if you feel like some wine
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Daily Mirror 5*
Details: Upstart Crow is booking at the Apollo Theatre until 10th December 2022. Tickets cost between £10-£230 and can be booked here.
The Play That Goes Wrong | Duchess Theatre
Honestly, they could be messing this up horribly every night, and no one would notice. In fact, they’d probably clap. Read our full review of The Play That Goes Wrong.
Dinner before: Bombastic Italian at Ave Mario
Drinks after: Highly-rated cocktails at the NoMad bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Independent 4*; Financial Times 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: The Play That Goes Wrong is booking at the Duchess Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until April 2023. Tickets cost £22-67.50, and can be booked HERE.
THE BEST IMMERSIVE THEATRE IN LONDON NOW
Hidden Figures | Bethnal Green
Fancy seeing some Hidden Figures in a crypt? Not in a creepy way – it’s the return of 2018’s hit immersive show celebrating the unsung heroes of WW2. For its second run, it’s made its home in a brand new dedicated immersive space based in the crypt of an 18th century church in Bethnal Green, which the creators have converted into a Blitz-era bar and wartime bunker where you’ll solve puzzles, interact with performers and uncover your character’s true story as the night unfolds. Combining entertainment with real history, it’s unlike anything else you’ll have encountered…
Dinner before: Check out Hot 4 U’s latest residency, Beak
Drinks after: Natural wines at Hector’s
Details: Hidden Figures is currently booking at St. Peter’s Church Crypt (closest tube station Haggerston) until the end of 2022. Tickets cost £30, and you can book HERE.
Peaky Blinders: The Rise | Camden
Peaky Blinders: The Rise is the latest show from Immersive Everywhere (the team behind London’s longest-running immersive production, The Great Gatsby) — and it’s absolutely breath-taking.
Set in the grade II* listed stables and warehouses of Camden Market, in a haze of smoke and whiskey, the underbelly of 1920s London — and very specifically the world of the hit series — has been beautifully recreated. Rebecca Brower’s stunning set, full of hidden hatches, hundreds of props and authentic furnishings, converts a relatively small space into an illicit playground, where you can rifle through Tommy Shelby’s office desk; check the odds in the Small Heath betting shop; or make a pact in Alfie Solomons’ London bakery. Oh, and the Garrison bar? That’s the real one from the show…
Dinner before: The Cheese Bar is right round the corner.
Drinks after: Smuggle booze into BYOC
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 4*
Details: Peaky Blinders: The Rise is currently booking until February 2023. Tickets range from £52 (midweek) to £82 (weekends) – you can find out more, and book, right HERE.
The Burnt City | Punchdrunk, Woolwich
For Punchdrunk’s latest show, they’ve taken on three historic, Grade II listed buildings, and reinvented them as a kind of futuristic, neon-drenched, sand-blasted version of two ancient cities, Troy and Mycenae, complete with apartment blocks and secret passageways. It’s set to be their most ambitious show to date (which, for them, is really saying something), set over a 100,000sq m set where you’ll encounter gods, monsters… and at least 599 mortals in the form of your fellow audience members…
Dinner before: Pizzas and craft beers at SALT
Drinks after: Stay in Troy’s hidden bar for live music & drinks…
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 4*; The FT 4*
Details: The Burnt City is booking at One Cartridge Place, Woolwich Works (closest tube station Woolwich Arsenal DLR) until 4th December 2022. Tickets cost £25-£150, and can be booked HERE.
Want to see great theatre for less? Find out how to get cheap theatre tickets in London