London Theatre – The Best Shows Right Now
Last Updated: 19th February 2019 | Main Image: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
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 MUSICALS | LONDON THEATRE
Black Is The Colour of My Voice/Soul Sessions | Trafalgar Studios
After sell-out runs from Edinburgh to Shanghai, Apphia Campbell is bringing her one-woman show inspired by the life and music of Nina Simone to London for a four-week run. Powerhouse vocals and a poignant, heartfelt narrative combine to create a spellbinding evening – and if you book tickets for the weekend Soul Sessions, you’ll be treated to a full cabaret-style Simone showcase (with live piano), too.
Dinner before: Creative fine dining at Frog by Adam Handling
Drinks after: Try to find Blind Spot…
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 4*; The Times 4*; British Theatre Guide 4*
Details: Black Is The Colour of My Voice & Soul Sessions run at Trafalgar Studios (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 2nd March. Tickets cost £32 and can be booked HERE.
Caroline, Or Change | Playhouse Theatre
A surreal, touching and fantastical musical from Jeanine Tesori and Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner. Following the stories of a Jewish family in mourning and their black maid Caroline – played with regal, unfaltering poise by Sharon D. Clarke – it explores racial, religious and economic tensions through a sweeping score, an impressive portion of which is, naturally, sung by household appliances.
Dinner before: Fresh noodles at Yen
Drinks after: Candlelight vino at Gordon’s Wine Bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Times 5*; The Stage 5*; Evening Standard 5*
Details: Caroline, Or Change runs at the Playhouse Theatre (closest tube station Embankment) until 2nd March. Tickets cost £20-85 and can be purchased HERE.
Company | Gielgud Theatre
Sondheim’s classic musical about finding love gets a barnstorming reboot with broadway icon Patti LuPone as Joanne and Rosalie Craig as the gender-switched lead. It’s had 5* reviews across the board, so if you enjoy it… you’ll be in good company.
Dinner before: Korean DIY BBQ at Olle
Drinks after: Knock on the door of the Experimental Cocktail Club
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Sunday Times 5*; The Evening Standard 5*; The i 5*
Details: Company runs at the Gielgud Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 30th March 2019. Tickets cost £27.50-124.50, 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 14th September. Tickets cost £19.50-125, and can be booked HERE.
Follies | National Theatre
If you have a penchant for musicals where the characters also have ghost versions of themselves, you’ll love Follies – another classic Sondheim number that won the Olivier for Best Musical Revival after its sell-out run at the National in 2017. Set amidst a bittersweet reunion of ageing showgirls in their old theatre set for demolition, it’s filled with poignant, powerful ballads, wry humour, and fabulous costumes.
Dinner before: Basque cuisine across the river at Eneko
Drinks after: Head to the World’s Best Bar (officially), Dandelyan
London Theatre Critics say: The Independent 5*; Financial Times 5*; The Telegraph 5*
Details: Follies runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 11th May. Tickets cost £32-68 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 28th September 2019. 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 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 25th May 2019. 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 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 | The Other Palace
Despite coming up to 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:Head upstairs to the The Other Naughty Piglet
Drinks after: Bartenders at the theatre bar will be ‘improvising’ cocktails based on your tastes throughout the run.
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Times 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical runs at The Other Palace (closest tube station Victoria) until 16th March. Tickets cost £20-50 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 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
Berberian Sound Studio | Donmar Warehouse
Based on Peter Strickland’s film of the same name, Berberian Sound Studio tells the story of Gilderoy, a British sound artist who finds himself transposed from working on nature documentaries in his shed to an Italian sound studio. Brought on to work on a grisly giallo horror film, his job is to record the Foley effects – sounds recorded from everyday objects to recreate and enhance those on film. But it turns out, smashing melons all day can leave you a little unhinged…
Dinner before: Berber food at The Barbary
Drinks after: …and Italian wine at Casanova & Daughters
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*
Details: Berberian Sound Studio runs at the Donmar Warehouse (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 30th March. Tickets cost £17.50-40, and can be purchased HERE.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Piccadilly Theatre, London
Based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon, Curious Incident has had awards practically thrown at it (including 7 Oliviers and 5 Tonies). Telling the story of autistic teenager Christopher through a dazzling combination of theatre, lighting and physical choreography, it’s just returned from a round-the-world-tour for a four-month London finale.
Dinner before: Steak from the formule menu at Brasserie Zédel
Drinks after: Boozy shakes at the Dirty Bones bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Evening Standard 5*; The Sunday Express 5*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: The Curious Incident runs at the Piccadilly Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 27th April 2019. Tickets cost £18-90, and can be purchased HERE.
Cyprus Avenue | Royal Court
Belfast loyalist Eric Miller believes that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has infiltrated his house… in the form of his 5 week-old granddaughter. After sell-out runs and multiple transfers, Cyprus Avenue is back for a limited run at the Royal Court with the original lead, Stephen Rea, who won a Best Actor award for his portrayal of a man stuck between the past and the future.
Dinner before: Top-shelf Indian at Kahani
Drinks after: Sneak down to the speakeasy at GOAT
London Theatre Critics say: The Observer 5*; The Irish Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Cyprus Avenue runs at the Royal Court theatre (closest tube station Sloane Square) until 23rd March. Tickets cost £12-95 and can be booked HERE.
Home, I’m Darling | National Theatre
Credit: Manuel Harlan
A daintily aproned Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd) stands in a perfect dolls-house of a home, preparing her husband’s boiled egg. It’s only when she takes out her laptop that you realise this isn’t the 50s. Judy, however, would very much like it to be, embracing the nostalgia and ideals of this restrictive but picture-perfect era. Laura Wade’s first original play since Posh – which caused ripples with its searing analysis of privilege and entitlement- Home, I’m Darling is a complex play that delves into individual notions of feminism in the light of the #MeToo movement.
Dinner before: Oysters at J. Sheekey’s Atlantic Bar
Drinks after: Head to the Victorian gin parlour at Mr. Fogg’s Tavern
London theatre critics say: The Stage 5*, The Times 5*, The Guardian 4*
Details: Home, I’m Darling runs at the Duke of York theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 13th April. Tickets cost £18-125 and can be purchased HERE.
Nine Night | Trafalgar Studios
After a sell-out, widely acclaimed run at the National Theatre, Nine Night – a family drama set over the traditional nine-night mourning period in Jamaica – has scored a West End transfer. It’s been praised for its delicate balance of humour and touching moments, all the more impressive for being the debut play from Natasha Gordon.
Dinner before: Nostalgic, elegant dishes at Rochelle Canteen ICA
Drinks after: Experimental cocktails at Eve
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Stage 5*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Nine Night runs at Trafalgar Studios (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 23rd February. A new matinee has just been added on 20th Feb due to popular demand – tickets cost £18-90 and can be purchased HERE.
The Price | Wyndham’s Theatre
Two brothers meet to divvy up their inherited family furniture after 16 years apart, with the aid of an 89 year-old furniture dealer in the form of David Suchet. It’s a classic Arthur Miller play, laced with black comedy and an underlying preoccupation with the American Dream, and tickets are, according to critics, well worth the price.
Dinner before: Dinner overlooking the city at Garden Room
Drinks after: Head to original speakeasy spot, The Experimental Cocktail Club
London Theatre Critics say: The Daily Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*; The Times 4*
Details: The Price runs at Wyndham’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 27th April. Tickets cost £14.75-99.75 and can be purchased HERE.
The Wider Earth | Natural History Museum
Credit: Mark Douet
Set in the Natural History Museum‘s gallery-turned-theatre space, The Wider Earth essentially shows the evolution… of the theory of evolution. Following a young Charles Darwin on his voyage with the HMS Beagle, the show combines live music, physical theatre and jaw-dropping puppetry to depict his encounters with the wildlife that sparked one of biology’s biggest ideas.
Dinner before: Try one of South Kensington’s best restaurants
Drinks after: Head to The Mermaid below Wright Brothers South Kensington
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 4*; Everything Theatre 4*
Details: The Wider Earth runs at the Natural History Museum (closest tube station South Kensington) until 24th February. Tickets cost £19.50-79.50 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 1st September 2019. 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 27th October 2019. Tickets cost from £20 to £67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
IMMERSIVE | LONDON THEATRE
Secret Theatre | Town Hall Hotel
A convicted killer has been caught escaping from a hotel room with three corpses inside… and it’s up to you to give the verdict. Explore the crime scene in the grand three-storey suite of the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel, attend the trial in the original 1930s council chambers, and go toe-to-toe with the accused cannibal behind it all. Combining immersive theatre with elements of a murder mystery and an escape room, it’s “Black Mirror meets Silence of the Lambs”… with you at its heart.
Dinner before: Book combo tickets for a meal at the Corner Room, or try the newly opened Da Terra downstairs
Drinks after: Sip cocktails at Satan’s Whiskers
London Theatre Critics say: The Upcoming 5*; New London Review 5*
Details: Secret Theatre runs at the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel (closest tube station Cambridge Heath) until 17th March. Tickets cost £29.99-109.99, and can be purchased HERE.
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 31st March 2019. Tickets cost £32.50, and can be purchased HERE.–
VAULT FESTIVAL 2019 | Waterloo
London’s best theatre-festival-in-a-network-of-subterranean-tunnels-beneath-a-railway-station is back, and the line-up is more eclectic than ever. This year’s shows range from an immersive guerilla folk opera set amidst the Ukrainian revolution, to a silent disco cabaret, which you’ll be able to enjoy alongside street food, drinks, and regular late-night parties. READ MORE
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