London Theatre – The Best Shows Right Now
Last Updated: 13th June 2019 | Main Image: Shakespeare’s Globe
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 | VAULT FESTIVAL
THE BEST NEW MUSICALS IN LONDON
Fiddler on the Roof | Playhouse Theatre
Hot on the heels of a sell-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory fringe theatre, this revival by award-winning director Trevor Nunn is in the West End for a limited run. Following a turn-of-the-century Jewish family faced with an eviction notice by the Tsar of Russia, the original Broadway show won nine Tony awards, and this revival, combining new and original choreography, has won just as much acclaim…
Dinner before: Top-notch tapas at Barrafina
Drinks after: Wine by the river at Gordon’s Wine Bar
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Evening Standard 4*
Details: Fiddler on the Roof runs at the Playhouse Theatre (closest tube station Embankment) until 28th September 2019. Tickets start at £20 – 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 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 14th September. Tickets cost £19.50-125, and can be booked 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 has already earned a record-breaking 13 Olivier nominations for its troubles…
Dinner before: Upmarket comfort food at Rail House Café
Drinks after: The Drunken Oyster above Hai Cenato
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 26th October 2019. They cost from £20 to £200, 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 determined 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 25th January 2020. Tickets cost from £20 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 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: 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 24th May 2020. Tickets cost from £20 to £122.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical | Lyric Theatre
Despite recently performing in their 1,000th show, the Showstopper team still haven’t run out of ideas. Every night they create a brand new, totally off-the-cuff musical based on suggestions shouted out by the audience. And every night, it’s somehow excellent.
Dinner before: Taiwanese wonders at XU
Drinks after: Knock on the door of the Experimental Cocktail Club
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Times 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical has monthly shows at the Lyric Theatre. Tickets cost from £15 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 as 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: Mezcal-laced cocktails at The Lost Alpaca
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 January 2020. Tickets cost from £8 and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST DRAMA | LONDON THEATRE
Romersholm | Duke of York’s Theatre
“An election looming. A country on the brink. A rabid press baying for blood.” Sure, it might be set in a political climate toootally unrelated to our own, but Ian Rickson’s new adaptation of this Ibsen play has some serious clout. Starring Tom Burke and Hayley Atwell as the two lovers at its centre, the play is an electrifying thriller full of personal and political passion. It’s been dubbed Ibsen’s darkest play which, considering his other works, is really saying something.
Dinner before: Oysters and English sparkling wine at J Sheekey
Drinks after: Head to Mr. Fogg’s Tavern
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 4*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Romersholm runs at the Duke of York’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 20th July 2019. Tickets cost from £15 and are available HERE.
Sweat | Gielgud Theatre
After a sell-out run at the Donmar Warehouse and a slew of 5* reviews across the board, Sweat has won itself a West End transfer.
Looks like it’s worked out.
The reviews are just as positive for the revival and its no-punches-pulled portrait of a small town in middle America. Racked with simmering racial tensions and unemployment following de-industrialisation, the town’s dive bar acts as a canvas for the characters to play out their resentments, fears and anger…
Dinner before: Middle Eastern deliciousness at The Palomar
Drinks after: The Blue Posts (emphatically not a dive bar)
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Times 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Sweat runs at the Gielgud Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 20th July. Tickets cost £27.25-107.25 and can be purchased HERE.
Small Island | National Theatre
A year after the Windrush scandal broke, this play – adapted from the prize-winning novel by Andrea Levy – charts the stories of three Jamaican immigrants arriving in the UK between 1939 and 1948. With a cast of 40, it’s an epic feat of storytelling, combining deceptively simple sets with real archive footage. The result is a whirlwind three hours that tell a bigger story as well as the heart-wrenching specifics of these three protagonists.
Dinner before: Grilling by the river at pop up eatery Jimmy’s BBQ Club
Drinks after: Head to the new incarnation of World’s Best Bar Dandelyan, Lyaness
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Small Island runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 10th August. There are limited seats left at £55-75, but you can queue up for day tickets in the morning (£15-18) or hold out for Friday Rush tickets at £20. Find out more HERE.
The Lehman Trilogy | Piccadilly Theatre
Plays about great financial crises can leave you in a great depression. But this elegant translation of Italian playwright Stefano Massini’s three-act play tells the unexpectedly captivating story of the Lehman Brothers, from the humble Alabama cloth shop opened by three German Jewish immigrant brothers, to their grandson, who ran what had by then become America’s fourth largest investment bank into the ground. Slickly presented by a cast of three multi-roling actors (Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley) and directed by Olivier award-winning Sam Mendes, this show’s headed for anything but a slump.
Dinner before: Indian small plates with a British accent at Kricket
Drinks after: Art deco cocktails at Bar Américain
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Times 5*; The Guardian 5*
Details: The Lehman Trilogy runs at the Piccadilly Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 31st August 2019. Tickets cost £18+, and you can book HERE.
Rutherford and Son | National Theatre
Githa Sowerby’s seminal play is revived after a gathering dust for a couple of years. Written in 1912, it recalls her experiences growing up in industrial Gateshead, and the tensions between family, class and gender. The Thick of It actor Roger Allam leads the cast, directed by the critically acclaimed Polly Findlay.
Dinner before: Dine on the terrace at Sea Containers
Drinks after: Theatrical cocktails at Hello Darling
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Rutherford and Son runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 3rd August. Tickets cost £15-89 and can be booked HERE.
Wife | Kiln Theatre
Inspired by Ibsen’s seminal play A Doll’s House, this piece of new writing by Samuel Adamson follows the story of Daisy, wife to Robert but in love with Susannah. Looking back over the last 60 years, its wide-ranging exploration of the institution of marriage has been hailed by critics, and presents another directing tour-de-force from Kiln’s artistic director, Indhu Rubasingham.
Dinner before: Neapolitan pizza at Quartieri
Drinks after: Prop up the theatre bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 4*; The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Wife runs at the Kiln Theatre (closest tube station Kilburn) until 6th July. Tickets cost £12.50-32.50 and are available 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 March 2020. Tickets cost from £10 to £95, and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST COMEDY | LONDON THEATRE
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Bridge Theatre
William Shakespeare invented at least 422 words we still use today, wrote some of the most affecting dramatic literature in the English language, and helped to transform the image of theatre as a morally dubious pastime to a respected art form.
He also wrote a character called Bottom.
This play features that very Bottom, and has been reinvented as an interactive spectacle by lauded director Nicholas Hytner. With a starry cast, original music and an enchanting setting, his take on the classic tale of fairy feuds and mixed-up lovers has got the thumbs up from critics.
Dinner before: Head to St. John, conveniently in the theatre itself.
Drinks after: Sip cocktails on the Coppa Club riverside terrace
London Theatre critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Independent 4*
Details: A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at the Bridge Theatre (closest tube station London Bridge) until 31st August. Tickets cost £15-95 and can be booked HERE.
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 3rd May 2020. Tickets cost from £20 to £67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
IMMERSIVE | LONDON THEATRE
The Great Gatsby | Mystery Location, London
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.
Dinner before: We couldn’t possibly give the location away…
Drinks after: No, really we can’t.
London Theatre 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 September 2020. Tickets cost £32.50, and can be purchased HERE.
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