London Theatre – The Best Shows Right Now
17/03/2020 NOTE: All West End theatres have now closed in light of government advice regarding COVID-19. We’ll update the list when everything’s back up and running.
Ever since the dawn of time, human beings have gazed at the stars in awe and asked themselves “Where can I get a list of only the best London Theatre shows playing right now – divided into musical, comedy, drama, and immersive categories – in which I can also discover a heap of nearby bars and restaurants to help me make a night of it?“
And the answer is… well, here.
Jump Straight To: MUSICALS | DRAMA | COMEDY | IMMERSIVE
THE BEST MUSICALS IN LONDON
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 been lavished with praise for its previous run on Broadway.
Dinner before: London’s best value steak at Flat Iron Denmark Street
Drinks after: Cocktails upstairs at 68 and Boston
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 23rd May 2020. Tickets cost £19.50-125, 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 30th May. Tickets cost £15-177.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie | Apollo Theatre, London
This title could have been reaaally embarrassing if the show hadn’t taken off. Luckily, London theatre critics are going mad for it, with bountiful comparisons to ‘a Billy Elliot for the millennial age’. Following the true story of 16 year old drag queen Jamie campaigning to wear a dress to prom, the show is packed with feel-good, prejudice-busting scenes fed by songs from The Feeling singer, Dan Gillespie Sells.
Dinner before: Retro Taiwanese at Xu
Drinks after: Cocktails from The Palomar team at The Blue Posts
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*; The Stage 5*; The Independent 5*; Financial Times 5*
Details: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie runs at the Apollo Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 29th August 2020. Tickets cost from £20 and can be purchased HERE.
Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre, London
Unless you’ve been living under a particularly well-soundproofed rock for the past few months, you’ll no doubt be vaguely aware that the biggest musical theatre event to drop this century has come to London.
And the cast are ready to Rise Up to the challenge.
Following the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, it’s a revolutionary 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: Sumptuous French fare at Chez Antoinette
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 23rd May 2020. They cost from £20 to £200, and can be purchased HERE.
Les Misérables | Sondheim Theatre, London
London’s longest-running musical finally took a break last summer as the Queen’s Theatre was renovated. Now it’s reopened as the Sondheim, and the iconic show has been rebooted with new staging, a stellar cast and a little more grit. The songs are still some of the best in musical theatre, and it’s a rousing production that’ll leave you buzzing.
Dinner before: Head down to Evelyn’s Table
Drinks after: Head up to the Experimental Cocktail Club
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Les Mis is booking at the Sondheim Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 17th October 2020. Tickets cost £17.50-125, and can be booked HERE.
Matilda The Musical | Cambridge Theatre, London
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 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: Steaming hot ramen at Kanada-Ya
Drinks after: Negronis at Bar Termini
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Evening Standard 5*; The Independent 5*
Details: Matilda The Musical runs at the Cambridge Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 20th December 2020. Tickets cost from £20 to £122.50, and can be purchased 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 exactly what’s needed when the general atmosphere around the country is – shall we say – gloomy.
Dinner before: French food avec jazz at Café Boheme opposite
Drinks after: Pop downstairs 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 7th June 2020. Tickets cost £22.50-£152.50, and can be purchased HERE.
SIX | Arts 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. After sell-out runs in Edinburgh and London, and rapturous reviews, it’s back for a year-long run. Expect neon ruffs; Greensleeves-techno mash ups and unexpected moments of vulnerability interspersed with its high-energy score.
Dinner before: Modern European with a view at Garden Room
Drinks after: Sake at new Japanese bar, Moto
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Six runs at the Arts Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 31st January 2021. Tickets cost from £32.75 and can be purchased HERE.
Waitress | Adelphi Theatre
Walk into the foyer of the Adelphi, and it smells like freshly baked apple pie. That pretty much sets the tone for the whole evening – a big, warm hug of a musical with a heartwarming storyline and a catchy soundtrack written by Sara Bareilles. For a limited run, she’s stepped into the title role herself, and her voice is frankly stunning live.
Dinner before: Get in the mood for pie at the new restaurant from pastry aficionado Dominique Ansel
Drinks after: Sip some of the best cocktails in the world at The American Bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*; Evening Standard 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Waitress runs at the Adelphi Theatre (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 4th July. Tickets cost £19.50-97, and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST DRAMA | LONDON THEATRE
A Number | Bridge Theatre
Producing a show about clones might just seem like an easy way to save money on actors. But Caryl Churchill’s thought-provoking play is wonderfully fleshed out by director Polly Findlay, who delves beneath the sci-fi framing the real issue at its heart: parental responsibility. As Salter (played magnificently by Roger Allam) is confronted by the identical copies of his son he created (all played by Merlin’s Colin Morgan), he’s forced to confront the consequences of his actions, and answer to his children.
Dinner before: Head to the theatre’s very own St John
Drinks after: Pop along to 40 Maltby Street
London Theatre Critics say: Time Out 5*; Financial Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: A Number runs at The Bridge Theatre (closest tube station London Bridge) until 14th March. Tickets cost £15-55, and can be booked HERE.
Daughter | Battersea Arts Centre
One of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s biggest shows of 2018, Daughter is a dark and thought-provoking one man show that pulls apart toxic masculinity and prods the (often subconscious) misogyny at its core. Described as “magnetic” and “unsettling”, it’s a show that’ll provoke debate – which is why, handily, there’s a post-show discussion with the producer every night.
Dinner before: Cult kebabs at BabaBoom
Drinks after: Debrief over a glass at Humble Grape
London Theatre Critics say: The Independent 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Daughter runs at the Battersea Arts Centre (closest tube station Clapham Junction) until 28th March. Tickets cost £12.50-20, and can be booked HERE.
Endgame | Old Vic
An absurdist Samuel Beckett classic from 1957, Endgame gains a new resonance with its apocalyptic setting and seemingly endless circular arguments between the co-dependent Hamm and his valet Clov (occasionally interrupted by his ageing parents, who live in dustbins). Alan Cummings and Daniel Radcliffe are a strong pair of protagonists, and it’s all prefaced by the rarely staged Rough for Theatre II, in which two otherworldly bureaucrats weigh up a man’s life.
Dinner before: Tapas with live guitar at Meson Don Felipe
Drinks after: Descend into the subterranean chaos of The Vaults theatre bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; Evening Standard 4*; WhatsOnStage 4*
Details: Endgame runs at the Old Vic theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 28th March. Tickets cost £8.50-125, and can be booked HERE.
Leopoldstadt | Wyndham’s Theatre
This new play has a real crack team behind it. It’s the latest work by England’s national treasure of a playwright, Tom Stoppard, and has been directed by Patrick Marber (the actor/director/playwright/supreme multi-tasker who wrote Closer). It follows the fates of a Jewish family in Vienna from 1899 – 1955, and while critics agree it’s not perfect, it’s a deeply personal, moving piece of theatre – a pretty big accolade for a playwright who was once criticised for being ‘too clever by half’.
Dinner before: Dinner with a view at Garden Room
Drinks after: Gin nightcaps at Mr. Fogg’s Tavern
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*; Evening Standard 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Leopoldstadt runs at Wyndham’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 13th June. Tickets cost £20-125 and can be booked HERE.
MEAT | Theatre503
Sometimes, the best writing isn’t on London’s big stages, from big names. The fringe circuit is studded with gems – and it looks like Gillian Greer is one of them. Shortlisted from 2,055 plays submitted from around the world, her new play MEAT won its spot at talent incubator Theatre503 on pure merit. It brings us in as voyeurs to a reunion between a former couple who dated as teenagers. As they talk, memories and experiences seem not to overlap as they should, unpicking thorny issues of consent and class in modern Ireland.
Dinner before: Casual Italian at family-run L’Antipasto
Drinks after: Drinks outside at The Magic Garden
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 4*; Time Out 4*
Details: MEAT runs at Theatre503 (closest tube station Battersea Park) until 14th March. Tickets cost £5-18, and can be booked HERE.
Pass Over | Kiln Theatre
A fierce, poetic and thought-provoking production melding the absurdism of Waiting For Godot with the pressing issues of racism and institutional prejudice in America. Two men sit on a nameless street corner, browbeaten by the relentless threat of police brutality and the impossibility of escaping the system. When the white stranger Mister appears, the absurd futility of their black American dreams is thrown into sharp relief – and the stellar performances from all three actors bring the hypnotic rhythm of Antoinette Nwandu’s writing to brilliant life.
Dinner before: the Petite Corée for European-Korean fusion
Drinks after: Head along to Heads + Tails
Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Arts Desk 4*
Details: Pass Over runs at the Kiln Theatre (closest tube station Kilburn) until 21st March. Tickets cost £15-32.50 and can be purchased HERE.
Poet in da Corner | Hackney Empire
Debris Stephenson reprises the sell-out debut run of her one-woman show back in 2018. It’s inspired by Dizzee Rascal’s album Boy in da Corner, and how listening to that album changed her life – told through a compelling fusion of spoken word, music and dance.
Dinner before: Creative small plates at Bright
Drinks after: Sustainable cocktails at Scout
Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Poet in da Corner runs at the Hackney Empire (closest tube station Hackney Central) from 31st March – 4th April. Tickets cost £10-35, and you can book HERE.
Witness For The Prosecution | London County Hall
A revival of Agatha Christie’s shorter-running play (read: fewer than 60 years), Witness For The Prosecution is performed in the rarely accessible (and suitably ‘20s) courtroom of London County Hall. Expect more twists and turns than a poorly made pretzel.
Dinner before: Homely ramen at Yamagoya
Drinks after: Cocktails with a view on the OXO Terrace Bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Witness For The Prosecution runs at London County Hall (closest tube station Waterloo) until 13th September 2020. Tickets cost from £10 to £95, and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST COMEDY | LONDON THEATRE
The Play That Goes Wrong | Duchess Theatre London
Honestly, they could be screwing this up horribly every night and nobody would notice. In fact, they’d probably clap.
Dinner before: French food at er, Frenchie
Drinks after: And French wine to boot at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*; The Independent 4*; The Telegraph 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: The Play That Goes Wrong runs at the Duchess Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until November 2020. Tickets cost from £20 to £67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Uncle Vanya | Harold Pinter Theatre
Chekhov’s tragicomedy is currently getting a barnstorming revival at the Harold Pinter. The Vanya in question is a middle aged ‘nobody’, left in charge of his brother in law’s estate and suddenly finding himself feeling desperately unhappy and hard done by life. This cast’s led by Toby Jones and Richard Armitage, who have been showered with praise for their performances, with spellbinding direction by Ian Rickson.
Dinner before: Dishes from an Ottolenghi protégé at Scully
Drinks after: Japanese cocktails below Machiya
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 4*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Uncle Vanya runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square) until 2nd May. Tickets cost £20-97.50, and can be booked HERE.
The Upstart Crow | Gielgud Theatre
It’s a Shakespearean comedy, but not the kind you’re expecting. This show propels Ben Elton’s sitcom onto the stage, with David Mitchell putting in an exceptionally funny performance as the balding bard. Shakespeare fans will see echoes of his plot-lines in the colourful cast of characters surrounding him, and you’ll be treated to the classic stage direction: ‘Exit, pursued by a bear.’
Dinner before: Go for a feast in Chinatown
Drinks after: Head up for a sophisticated nightcap at The Mulwray
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 4*; The Times 4*
Details: The Upstart Crow runs at the Gielgud Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 25th April. Tickets cost £15 – £152.50 and can be purchased HERE.
IMMERSIVE | LONDON THEATRE
Crooks 1926 | COLAB Pub
COLAB have played an absolute blinder with their newest immersive theatre show. You’ll be part of a criminal network in 1920s London, trying to broker a deal with the Italian gang leader Sabini. There’s boxing matches to watch, traitors to uncover, and an almost ever-present threat of violence to contend with, as you follow your own individual storyline. Plus, you can dress up for the night and feel suave AF. READ MORE
Dinner before: Grab a quick bite at Mercato Metropolitano
Drinks after: Stay for a drink in the 20s-styled pub
London Theatre Critics say: London Theatre1 5*; Broadway World 5*; A Younger Theatre 4* (…and we bloody loved it)
Details: Crooks 1926 runs at the COLAB Pub (closest tube station Elephant & Castle) until 31st May. Tickets cost £28, and can be booked HERE.
The Great Gatsby | ImmersiveLDN
This isn’t your average, everyday, garden variety Gatsby. It’s the great one, and he’s throwing one heck of a party… Eavesdrop on secret bedroom conversations, connive with the characters, and throw some serious jazz hands. READ MORE
Dinner before: Critically acclaimed Italian at Emilia, or slow-cooked Indian at Lucknow 49
Drinks after: The suitably art deco Retiring Room
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: The Great Gatsby runs at ImmersiveLDN (closest tube station Bond Street) until 31st May 2020. Tickets cost from £29.95, and can be purchased HERE.
Want to see great theatre for less? Find out how to get cheap theatre tickets in London