London Theatre – The Best Shows Right Now
Last Updated: 10th January 2020 | Main Image: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe/Brinkhoff Moegenburg
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
& Juliet | Shaftesbury Theatre
Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet showed us that Shakespeare and 90s music were a match made in heaven. Giving it a slightly more upbeat take is this new tongue-in-cheek musical that poses the question: what if a 13 year old girl who found out that the love of her life (who she’d met three days earlier) was dead… didn’t also top herself? It answers with a foot-stomping playlist of 90s and 00s pop. Already nominated for 13 awards, it’s a big newcomer to the West End.
Dinner before: Cosy seafood spot Parsons
Drinks after: Get a bottle at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: & Juliet runs at the Shaftesbury Theatre (closest tube station Tottenham Court Road) until 4th July 2020. Tickets cost £22.50-99.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Amélie | The Other Palace
Based on the cult film, this intimate, quirky musical combines gnome puppets, photo booths and flying lampshades with a swelling original score. Following the romance between introverted day dreamer Amélie and Nino, it’s a heartwarming, delightfully Parisian show where the actors seem to spontaneously pick up instruments to express how they feel. After extensive touring, it’s finally in London again, so catch it while you can.
Dinner before: Wine and relaxed fine dining at The Other Naughty Piglet
Drinks after: Upstairs at the Rail House Café
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 4*; The Times 4*; The Observer 4*
Details: Amélie runs at The Other Palace (closest tube station Victoria) until 1st February 2020. Tickets cost £19.50-65, and can be purchased 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 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.
Girl From The North Country | Gielgud Theatre
After a sold-out run at the Old Vic, followed by a West End transfer, this critically acclaimed musical featuring the music of Bob Dylan is back for a return run. Set in 1930s Minnesota, in the town Dylan himself was born, it’s a heartbreaking show portraying the palpable desperation of Depression-era America. Actors switch seamlessly between dialogue and song, which, accompanied by a live band, really plucks at the heart strings.
Dinner before: The Palomar, of course
Drinks after: Head down to Jack Solomons Club
London Theatre Critics say: (for the 2017/8 run) The Guardian 5*; The Independent 5*
Details: Girl From The North Country runs at the Gielgud Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 1st February 2020. Tickets cost £32.50-127.50, 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.
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 5th July 2020. Tickets cost from £32.75 and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST DRAMA | LONDON THEATRE
The Arrival | Bush Theatre
Bijan Sheibani has directed some excellently received plays over the years – Taste of Honey, Barber Shop Chronicles, The Brothers Size – and now he’s turning his hand to writing. His debut play is a charged, 70-minute race through the instinctual fondness and anxieties that develop between two brothers who meet for the first time. One adopted weeks after birth, vital and confident; the other intellectual and wary. In a bare, circular stage, they dance and wrestle as their complex relationship unfolds.
Dinner before: Check out the newly-opened Prairie Fire
Drinks after: Cocktails at Kricket
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*; The Observer 4*
Details: The Arrival runs at Bush Theatre (closest tube station Shepherd’s Bush Market) until 18th January 2020. Tickets cost £10-20, and can be booked HERE.
A Christmas Carol | Old Vic
This heart-warming production has become something of an annual tradition now for the Old Vic. For the third year running, this adaptation of the Dickens classic (by Jack Thorne, also behind the Harry Potter play and the BBC’s current take on His Dark Materials) will be performed in the round, lit by dozens of suspended lanterns. Filled with carols, snow, and unabashed cheer and emotion, it’s fast becoming a festive London classic.
Dinner before: Tapas with live music at Meson Don Felipe
Drinks after: Wild cocktails in the scenic environs of Darling House
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: A Christmas Carol runs at the Old Vic (closest tube station Waterloo) until 18th January 2020. Ticket cost £15-65, and can be purchased HERE.
A Taste of Honey | Trafalgar Studios
Bijan Sheibani is on a roll. Not only is he making his writing debut at the Bush (see above), but a show he directed in 2014 to great acclaim is setting off on tour. This version is very different to his original staging, but its spellbinding – combining live music, singing and a 1950s set, it’s an excellent take on the classic play (written by Shelagh Delaney at the age of 19). Bittersweet and desperately searching for love, it’s the tale of a mother and daughter’s fraught relationship, and the suitors who drift in and out of their lives.
Dinner before: British chophouse meets Indian technique at Tandoor Chop House
Drinks after: Continue the live jazz at Bassoon Bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: A Taste of Honey runs at Trafalgar Studios (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 29th February 2020. Tickets cost £20-85 and can be booked HERE.
Cyrano de Bergerac | Playhouse Theatre
This is Cyrano, but not as you know it. For starters, no big noses. In a post fake news (and fake nose?) world, Jamie Lloyd’s starkly lit, unsympathetic production is set more on underlining the self-delusion of the titular character; his self-pity; and the appropriately angry reaction of his deceived love interest Roxanne (played here with a more feminist slant). It’s grungy, powerful and James McAvoy gives a knockout performance.
Dinner before: Iranian delights at Nutshell
Drinks after: The classic – Gordon’s Wine Bar
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*
Details: Cyrano de Bergerac runs at the Playhouse Theatre (closest tube station Embankment) until 29th February 2020. Tickets cost £18-180, and can be purchased HERE.
My Brilliant Friend | National Theatre
Elena Ferrante’s quartet of novels made something of an explosion in the literary world. And after being staged at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, April De Angelis’ two-part theatrical adaptation is getting staged again at the National. With a fantastically creative set and costumes bringing the world of 50s Naples to life, it’s a rich, epic telling of the story of a 60 year friendship, through the turbulence of family, political and social life.
Dinner before: Superb South East Asian food at Sticky Mango
Drinks after: Experimental drinks at Lyaness
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 4*; The Telegraph 4*; The Independent 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: My Brilliant Friend runs in two parts at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 22nd February 2020. Tickets cost £20-165 and can be booked HERE.
Snowflake | Kiln Theatre
A new play from award-winning writer Mike Bartlett (King Charles III, Doctor Foster) gets its London debut at the Kiln Theatre this winter. It’s the story of an estranged father and daughter, who struggle to overcome intergenerational conflict over Christmas. Subtly revelatory, it’s been praised for the actors’ incredible performances, and the emotional ebb and flow of angry outbursts against heartbreaking silences.
Dinner before: Crispy pizza at Quartieri
Drinks after: Live music at The Fiddler
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; Evening Standard 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Snowflake runs at Kiln Theatre (closest tube station Kilburn or Brondesbury) until 25th January. Tickets cost £10-32.50 and can be purchased HERE.
Swive [Elizabeth] | Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
“My mother seduced a man so successfully that he altered the constitutional history of this country.” So begins the new play from Ella Hickson (Eight, Precious Little Talent) about Elizabeth I, and the difficulties she faced as a female monarch. Set in the glittering jewel box of a theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (promptly denounced by Liz as ‘bullshit’ within the first five minutes), it’s a pithy, compact number full of tight dialogue, courtly intrigue and the occasional dash of unexpected metatheatre and anachronism. This is a play for people who don’t think they like history plays, and shines candlelight on the makings of a woman with incredible grit.
Dinner before: Portuguese small plates at Bar Douro
Drinks after: Experimental cocktails at Lyaness
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*; The Independent 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Swive [Elizabeth] runs at The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe (closest tube station London Bridge or Blackfriars) until 15th February. Tickets cost £7-62, and can be purchased HERE.
The Duchess of Malfi | Almeida Theatre
Continuing her knack for championing great actresses and female leads, lauded director Rebecca Frecknall is currently staging a hugely well-received production of the early 17th century play, The Duchess of Malfi. Given stark new significance in a post MeToo world, it follows the eponymous duchess as she falls in love with her steward, and finds herself at the centre of a plot hatched by her brothers to remove her power, agency – and ultimately – life.
Dinner before: Italian feasting at Radici
Drinks after: Rum cocktails at Laki Kane
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*; Evening Standard 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: The Duchess of Malfi runs at the Almeida Theatre (closest tube station Angel) until 25th January 2020. Tickets cost £10-42.50 and can be purchased HERE.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe | Bridge Theatre
Sally Cookson’s lauded 2017 production of the classic Narnia tale Aslan’ded at the Bridge Theatre. Combining puppetry with aerial ballet, moving platforms and a live band, it’s a frankly beautiful production that’s full of awe and wonder. Highlighting the wartime setting, it sheds new light on an old tale – but there’s plenty there to keep fans of the original happy, too.
Dinner before: Tuck into St John fare in the theatre
Drinks after: Sustainable cocktails at Nine Lives
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe runs at Bridge Theatre (closest tube station London Bridge) until 2nd February 2020. Tickets cost £15-95 and can be purchased HERE.
Three Sisters | National Theatre
Breathing new life into the Chekhov classic, this new adaptation by critically acclaimed playwright Inua Ellams (Barber Shop Chronicles) is set in 1960s Nigeria. As the Biafran civil war breaks out, the three sisters long for their home in Lagos, caught between their own personal tragedies and that of the war-torn but hopeful new republic. It’s a breathtaking piece of new writing, supported by a stellar cast.
Dinner before: Dinner with a view at Sea Containers
Drinks after: Hot cocktails by the river at Jimmy’s Lodge
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Three Sisters runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 19th February 2020. Tickets cost £15-70 and can be booked HERE.
Touching The Void | Duke of York’s Theatre
Touching The Void is based on the memoirs of mountaineer Joe Simpson, whose climbing partner Simon Yates made the choice to leave Joe when an accident threatened their survival. In this thrilling production that sold out its debut run in 2018, the two climbers tackle a paper-covered scaffold that reaches the full height of the stage, gradually becoming more tattered as they struggle on. It’s a compelling, Revenant-style story of man against nature, diving deep into the complex decisions Simon had to make and showing the full breadth of human resilience.
Dinner before: Top-level seafood at J Sheekey
Drinks after: Quirky cocktails at Mr. Fogg’s Tavern
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*
Details: Touching The Void runs at the Duke of York’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 29th February 2020. Tickets cost £15-85, and can be purchased 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.
IMMERSIVE | LONDON THEATRE
Head to the labyrinthine tunnels beneath Waterloo station this month, and you’ll happen upon a night of theatrical revelry full of dark, beguiling characters ripped out of a gothic fairy story. On your interactive journey through the palace, you’ll eat dishes by a Masterchef finalist, sip unusual cocktails, and watch performances by ballerinas, contortionists, and a very talented ghost orchestra… READ MORE
Dinner before: Head up to brand new seafood spot Seabird
Drinks after: Rooftop cocktails at 12th Knot
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 4*
Details: Red Palace runs at The Vaults (closest tube station Waterloo) until 12th January. Tickets cost £15-70 and can be purchased 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.
Secret Cinema Presents: Stranger Things
We never thought we’d see the day that Secret Cinema adapted a TV show. But Stranger Things have happened. Yes, the immersive experience pioneers are back, and after a staggering 70 productions they’re taking on a whole new branch of entertainment… READ MORE
Dinner before: We couldn’t possibly give the location away…
Drinks after: No really, we can’t.
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 4*
Details: Secret Cinema Presents: Stranger Things runs in a secret location until 29th February 2020. Tickets cost £43.45-152.82, and can be purchased HERE.
Want to see great theatre for less? Find out how to get cheap theatre tickets in London