The Nudge’s London Theatre Guide
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 absolute best theatre shows playing in London 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?”
Well the answer is… right here…
Last updated: 29th January 2018
Jump to: MUSICALS | DRAMA | COMEDY | CABARET | IMMERSIVE
Girl From The North Country | Noel Coward Theatre
Bob Dylan was lying. All he really wanted to do was to create a subtly heart-wrenching, low-key musical painting a picture of desolate, Depression-era Midwest America.
…So it’s a good thing that his team approached critically lauded playwright and director Conor McPherson to create this touching musical tableau, where an interweaving cast casually pick up an instrument to express their innermost needs and frustrations through an eclectic selection from Dylan’s back catalogue.
Dinner before: Fresh seafood from freshly-opened The Oystermen
Drinks after: Tequila cocktails at Café Pacifico
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Times 5*; The Independent 5*; The Evening Standard 5*
Details: Girl From the North Country runs at the Noel Coward Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 31st March 2018. Tickets cost from £53.50 to £98.50, and can be purchased HERE
Five Guys Named Moe | Marble Arch Theatre
They’re usually pretty offbeat….
…but they less usually involve you stepping into an authentic 1940s New Orleans cocktail bar hidden inside a pop up, travelling Spiegeltent by Marble Arch; they rarely go on to feature a swinging, foot-stomping live musical score entirely composed from the songs of jazz genius Louis Jordan; and they almost never culminate with a man in a suit high-kicking above your head as you sip mint julep at a retro cabaret table.
Dinner before: Vegetarian delights at The Gate
Drinks after: Lashings of rum at Burlock
Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; The Times 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Five Guys Named Moe runs at the Marble Arch Theatre (closest tube station Marble Arch) until 24th March. Tickets cost from £10 to £94.50 and can be purchased HERE.
Matilda | 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 has had critics positively raving, and is carried by a genuinely exceptional cast of kids. Get ready to hastily spotify the soundtrack all the way home.
Dinner before: Misnomered dim sum at Ugly Dumpling
Drinks after: A well-nomered swift at Swift
Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Evening Standard 5*; The Independent 5*
Details: Matilda runs at the Cambridge Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 10th February 2019. Tickets cost from £20 to £122.50, and can be purchased HERE
42nd Street | Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Sometimes it turns on the waterworks, but this firework of a chorus-line musical will leave nothing but a smile on your face. Sure, some of the lyrics might be a little dubious these days (“What’s cute about a little cutie is her beauty, not brains”), but the sight of forty pairs of feet drumming the floor in perfect unison can hardly fail to entertain.
Dinner before: Italian-tinged tapas at Opera Tavern
Drinks after: A bottle (or a case) at The 10 Cases
Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Stage 5*; The Times 5*
Details: 42nd Street runs at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 20th Oct 2018. Tickets cost from £15 to £125, and can be purchased HERE
The Grinning Man | Trafalgar Studios
Combine the devising talents of the original War Horse director; a macabre Victor Hugo tale and the most impressive puppetry you’ve seen since… well, War Horse; and you’ve got yourself a pretty bizarre, wonderful musical. This grim tale follows the fortunes of a man whose face was carved into a permanent grin as a child, and now travels with a freakshow in 17th century England, where he falls in love with his blind adopted sister and encounters an incestuous royal family. Claassic Hugo.
Dinner before: Seafood and champagne cocktails at J. Sheekey
Drinks after: Cocktails with a view at Trafalgar St. James
Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*; The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: The Grinning Man runs at Trafalgar Studio 1 (closes tube station Charing Cross) until 17th February. Tickets cost from £22.50 to £95, and can be purchased HERE.
Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre
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 to drop this century is finally coming to British shores.
And the new 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 has already earned a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations for its troubles…
Dinner before: Upmarket comfort food at Rail House Café
Drinks after: The Drunken Oyster above Hai Cenato
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Independent 5*; The Stage 5*; The Evening Standard 5*
Details: Hamilton runs at the Victoria Palace Theatre (closest tube station Victoria) from 6th December until 30th June 2018 (but it will definitely be extended). Tickets cost from £20 to £200, and are sold out for this initial part of the run – but you can still get tickets in various ways, click HERE to find out how.
Pinocchio | National Theatre
While some critics have claimed there’s a lack of real guts to Dennis Kelly’s adaptation of the classic tale, it’s undoubtedly worth a look for the giant puppets representing the humans in the story, the stunning re-workings of the Disney songs, and the characterisation of Jiminy Cricket as a germ-obsessed hypochondriac.
Dinner before: Sharing platters at Florentine
Drinks after: Cocktails in the bric-a-brac-filled Vaulty Towers
Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*; The Times 4*
Details: Pinocchio runs at the National Theatre (nearest station Waterloo) until 10th April. Tickets cost from £31-62, and can be booked HERE.
The Birthday Party | Harold Pinter Theatre
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, this revival’s essentially a birthday party for The Birthday Party.
And it’s got a pretty strong guest list, with Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan and Toby Stephens amongst the starry cast. Cryptic, unsettling and sinister, it’s a psychological thriller set in a boarding house on the coast, where everything begins to unravel on the arrival of two new visitors. Expect shady characters, super-sharp dialogue, and of course….
…plenty of pauses.
Dinner before: Authentic ramen at Kanada-ya
Drinks after: Japanese cocktails to match at Machiya
Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: The Birthday Party runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square) until 14th April. Tickets cost from £15-£99.50, and can be purchased HERE.
The Ferryman | Gielgud Theatre
There was a lot of back and forth about this production, but they decided to put in on in the end. And you can be glad they did, because the ebullient new play from the lauded Jez Butterworth has won the hearty approval of critics with its dynamic staging, spine-tingling writing and excellent cast – one of whom gives a particularly commendable performance, despite being an actual baby.
Dinner before: Bib Gourmand-awarded mezze at The Barbary
Drinks after: Intimate nightcaps at Balls & Company
Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Stage 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Independent 5*; The Telegraph 5*
Details: The Ferryman runs at the Gielgud Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 19th May 2018. Tickets cost from £39.50 to £89.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Network | National Theatre
The original film cleaned up at the Oscars in the 70s, (including both the first posthumous award, and a Best Supporting Actress award for a mere 5 minutes and 2 seconds of screentime), and this epic stage edition is set to be just as groundbreaking. Oh, and they’ve got Bryan Cranston in the lead, which probably helps.
Dinner before: Riverside views at Sea Containers
Drinks after: Al fresco craft brews at The Understudy
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 4*; The Stage 4*; The Independent 4*
Details: Network runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 24th March 2018. Tickets are now sold out, but you can find out ways to get hold of any day tickets or returns HERE.
Witness For The Prosecution | London County Hall
Courtroom dramas don’t always make great plays.
But then, who are we to judge?
And a revival of Agatha Christie’s shorter-running play (read: fewer than 60 years), Witness For The Prosecution, is certainly one to buck the trend. Given an atmospheric twist by director Lucy Bailey; it’s 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
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 16th September 2018. Tickets cost from £10 to £95, and can be purchased HERE.
The Play That Goes Wrong | Duchess Theatre
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
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 30th September 2018. Tickets cost from £20 to £67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Beginning | Ambassadors Theatre
They’re not the coolest way to meet someone.
But in the West End transfer of this thoughtful, painfully funny and elegantly written play, it makes the perfect backdrop to an awkward potential meet-cute between two thirty-somethings, each lugging their own emotional baggage. Unfolding in real time over 90 minutes, it’s both a sensitive and hilarious piece of work that’s been adored by critics.
Dinner before: Mexican dishes hidden behind a sex shop at La Bodega Negra
Drinks after: Ground floor cocktails, then subterranean whiskies at Swift
Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Independent 5*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Beginning runs at the Ambassadors Theatre (closest tube station Tottenham Court Road) until 24th March 2018. Tickets cost from £18 – £75, and can be purchased HERE.
Ovo | Royal Albert Hall
Making a show about a giant egg isn’t easy…
…But Cirque du Soleil seem to have cracked it.
As the ‘ovo’ in question rolls into this magnified microcosm of bugs and insects, it (of course) triggers a riotously colourful medley of performances; including foot jugglers, balancing contortionists, a swarm of tumbling crickets and a trapeze duet performed 14m above the ground…
Dinner before: Art deco Indian at newly opened Dishoom Kensington
Drinks after: Cocktails at the Mermaid beneath Wright Brothers South Kensington
Critics say: The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*; Metro 4*
Details: Ovo runs at the Royal Albert Hall (closest tube station South Kensington) until 4th March. Tickets cost from £31 – £235, and can be booked HERE.
The Great Gatsby | Mystery Location
This isn’t your average, everyday, garden variety Gatsby. It’s the great one, and he’s throwing one heck of a party – and you’re invited. Eavesdrop on secret bedroom conversations, connive with the characters, and throw some serious jazz hands.
Dinner before: We couldn’t possibly give the location away…
Drinks after: No, really we can’t.
Critics say: British Theatre Guide 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: The Great Gatsby runs somewhere mysterious (closest tube station Borough…) until 1st April 2018. Tickets cost £34, and can be purchased HERE
Neverland | The Vaults
Peter Pan jokes.
They never get old.
And nor does the story itself, apparently, if the upcoming London transfer of the bamboozling, immersive musical that is Neverland is anything to go by. It comes to you from a team of implausibly talented people including an Olivier award-winning producer and the creatives behind, would you believe, The Great Gatsby – and has just finished a seriously well-received run in Sheffield… READ MORE
Dinner before: Slurp authentic ramen at Yamagoya
Drinks after: Soak up the festival atmosphere at the Vaults bars
Critics say: The Stage 4*
Details: Neverland runs as part of the VAULT festival 2018 at The Vaults (closest tube station Waterloo) until 18th March. Tickets cost £26.50 and can be purchased HERE – plus, you can book in for one of the Lates (themed afterparties) on 2nd & 3rd February for £19 HERE.
VAULT 2018 | The Vaults
Have you ever noticed that comedy gigs always use some observational humour?
It’s something that can’t have passed the organisers of VAULT by, who are now in their sixth year of running London’s biggest fringe festival: diligently curating the finest emerging talents in the fields of comedy, theatre, music and cabaret – some of whom also have actual fringes.
For eight weeks, this rambunctious motley crew of performers will be settling into their temporary labyrinthine, 30,000 sq ft. subterranean home with shows ranging from improvised sci-fi comedies to Greek tragedy-meets-circus… READ MORE
Main image: Pinocchio / Credit: Manuel Harlan
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