The Nudge’s Guide To The Best London Theatre Shows Playing Now
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?”
Well the answer is… right here…
Last updated: 30th May 2018
Jump to: MUSICALS | DRAMA | COMEDY | CABARET | IMMERSIVE
Brief Encounter | Empire Cinema Haymarket
After Emma Rice’s unexpectedly brief encounter with the Globe, her seminal, exuberant production of Noel Coward’s classic returns to the West End with aplomb. Don’t expect a carbon copy of the iconic film – there are three concurrent romances for starters – but it’s a beautiful show, packed with music, dance, projections, acrobatics and more.
Dinner before: Globally inspired dishes from an Ottolenghi protégé at Scully
Drinks after: Vesper martinis at Dukes Bar
Critics say: The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*; What’s On Stage 4*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Brief Encounter runs at the Empire Cinema Haymarket (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 2nd September. Tickets cost from £20 to £52.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie | Apollo Theatre
This title could have been reaaally embarrassing if the show hadn’t taken off. Luckily, 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: Homely Spanish at Morada Brindisa Asador
Drinks after: Cocktails from The Palomar team at The Blue Posts
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 6th October. Tickets cost from £20 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.
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 has finally come 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 13 Olivier 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.
Consent | Harold Pinter Theatre
Starting in the courtroom scene of a rape trial and winding up woven into the personal lives of the lawyers involved, Consent has just transferred to the West End after a barnstormingly successful stint at the National Theatre. It’s challenging, excellently written, and supremely well-acted – this is just one of those very timely, important plays.
Dinner before: Glorious Italian at Union Street Café
Drinks after: Award-winning concoctions at Dandelyan
Critics say: Radio Times 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Consent runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 11th August. Tickets cost from £15 – 90 and can be purchased HERE.
Mood Music | The Old Vic
Mood Music: it certainly strikes a chord. A timely exploration of the tensions between collaboration and plagiarism, creativity and commodification, and the particular power dynamics of the music industry, it follows the struggle between a young songwriter and an ageing producer over the rights to a song. And in this staging by Roger Michell, it hits all the right notes.
Dinner before: Anatolian small plates at Tas
Drinks after: Sky-high cocktails in the Rumpus Room
Critics say: Financial Times 5*; The Times 4*; The Stage 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Mood Music runs at the Old Vic (closest tube station Waterloo) until 16th June. Tickets cost from £12 – £65 and can be purchased HERE.
Peter Pan | Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Having debuted in 2015 with flying colours, this Olivier-nominated show is back for the summer – and it’s still excellent. Set amidst the gloom of the First World War, it’s an altogether more poignant take on the story, with some seriously good puppetry thrown in for good measure.
Dinner before: Old-school Austrian at Fischer’s
Drinks after: Royally good drinks at Little Nan’s
Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Stage 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Peter Pan runs at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (closest tube station Baker Street) until 15th June. Tickets cost from £25 – 55, and can be purchased HERE.
Quiz | Noel Coward Theatre
Want to know if this play based on the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire cheating scandal’s any good? Ask the audience. Because they’ll probably tell you that it’s unexpectedly riveting, thought-provoking and engaging – and not just because you get to use those voting handsets. It’s yet another West End transfer for playwright James Graham (who had Ink and Labour of Love on simultaneously not so long ago) – and he’s earnt it. You should go.
Dinner before: Australo-Pacific plates at Bronte
Drinks after: Raise a glass at the Trafalgar St. James
Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; The Times 4*; The Independent 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Quiz runs at the Noel Coward Theatre (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 16th June. Tickets cost from £15 – 95 and can be purchased HERE.
Red | Wyndham’s Theatre
This is the one case where seeing Red is actually a good thing. Centred on the dynamic between artist Mark Rothko (played by Alfred Molina) and his (fictional) assistant Ken (Alfred Enoch); it’s an intense trip through the artist’s fears and passions, and Ken’s gradual disillusionment. It scooped six Tony awards when it transferred to Broadway; make sure you catch it now it’s back.
Dinner before: Light Peruvian fare at Lima Floral
Drinks after: A glass of red at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Red runs at Wyndham’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 28th July. Tickets cost from £10-99 and can be purchased HERE.
The Daughter-In-Law | Arcola Theatre
DH Lawrence’s Midlands play. It’s no minor drama. In fact, it’s one of his most under-appreciated works (it wasn’t even produced during his lifetime); sensitively fleshing out each character in a tangle of conflicting needs and expectations. This production’s particularly well-realised, from the set right down to the accents – and the critics are big fans.
Dinner before: Vegetarian delights at Mildreds
Drinks after: Avant-garde cocktails at Untitled
Critics say: The Guardian 4*; LondonTheatre 4*
Details: The Daughter-in-Law runs at the Arcola Theatre (closest tube station Dalston Junction) until 23rd June. Tickets cost from £12 – 22 and can be purchased HERE.
The Moderate Soprano | Duke of York’s Theatre
Plays about operas can be pretty Strauss-ful. But this one’s received glowing reviews for its depiction of the love story behind the foundation of Glyndebourne, pitted against the gloom of the Second World War. Transferring to the West End from the Hampstead Theatre, it’s another winner from multiple award-winning playwright David Hare – who also wrote Skylight and The Red Barn.
Dinner before: Picturesque al fresco dining at Petersham Nurseries
Drinks after: Gin cocktails at Mr Fogg’s
Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*;
Details: The Moderate Soprano runs at the Duke of York’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 30th June. Tickets cost from £15-85 and can be purchased 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.
An Ideal Husband | Vaudeville Theatre
Critics are going, ahem, Wilde for the latest in the Vaudeville’s series of Wildean revivals, which follows the complex and characteristically wittily written consequences of the unravelling of an upstanding politician’s history. Real-life father-son acting duo Sir Edward and Freddie Fox steal the scene here with their clashes of gentle reasoning and old crustiness; like a rather pleasant theatrical sandwich.
Dinner before: Parisian brasserie grub at Les Deux Salons
Drinks after: Wine by the river at Gordon’s Wine Bar
Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Independent 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: An Ideal Husband runs at the Vaudeville Theatre (closest tube station Embankment) until 14th July. Tickets cost from £19.50 – £75 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.
Circolombia | Underbelly
If you’re planning on running away to the circus any time soon, make sure it’s to this one – because it’s the only place you’ll find performers somersaulting onto a human tower; a man doing the splits mid-air as he balances his feet on two ropes; and a man who gets suspended by the neck. And, you know, survives.
Dinner before: Dining on the terrace at Sea Containers
Drinks after: Rum cocktails and salsa at Cubana
Critics say: Evening Standard 4*
Details: Circolombia runs at the Underbelly Festival (closest tube station Waterloo) until 14th July. Tickets cost from £19.50 to £31.50 and can be purchased 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 30th September 2018. Tickets cost £32.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Trainspotting | The Vaults
Yep, immersive Trainspotting. And while they stop short of inviting you to shoot up with them, prepare to be flung head-first into the grimy, heroin-infused side of 1980s Edinburgh in this 21st anniversary revival of the stage adaptation from Irvine Welsh’s iconic book. There’s nudity, there’s coarse language, there’s full immersion – even in that toilet scene. It’s excellent… though maybe not one for a first date.
Dinner before: Ottolenghi-style cuisine at Bala Baya
Drinks after: A strong drink at Penny bar
Critics say: It’s had almost 20 5* reviews from its Fringe run. So generally, pretty favourable.
Details: Trainspotting runs at the Vaults (closest tube station Waterloo) until 3rd June. Tickets cost from £20 – £35, and can be purchased HERE.
Main image: Quiz
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