London theatre critics' choice

Our theatre critics recommend the best London theatre of the moment

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New and limited run five star shows

Here Lies Love

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

David Byrne’s utterly winning ‘Here Lies Love’ doesn’t so much tear up the musical-theatre rulebook as exhibit a strange, endearing obliviousness to the fact that it even exists.The former Talking Heads leader has, inescapably, written a disco musical about the first lady of the Philippines/dictator’s wife Imelda Marcos. It should be the gayest thing ever. Instead, Byrne’s show and Alex Timbers’s prodigious New York production – restaged at the National Theatre to

  1. National Theatre, Dorfman
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Thu Jan 8
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Visitors

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Perhaps the biggest achievement of this brilliant debut from writer Barney Norris is how it wrings so much out of such a static, basic set. Two armchairs, a footstool and sundry geriatric accoutrements are all that’s needed to set the scene of a remote farmhouse in Wiltshire. And despite very little in the way of physical energy, the play is never less than engrossing throughout its two-hour run time.It’s a wise choice from director Alice Hamilton: flashy dressing would only

  1. Bush Theatre 7 Uxbridge Rd, W12 8LJ
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jan 10
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Apocalypse Meow: Crisis Is Born

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Australian-born cabaret star and singer Meow Meow returns to the South Bank with another belter of a show: like playing pass-the-parcel on a boozed-up, pill-popped Christmas Day at the end of the world, it’s a mad, many-layered treat: the nativity theme is established early on when she complains wryly that there was no room at the Royal Festival Hall.Clutching an inflatable donkey and an equally unlikely strap-on pregnancy, Meow Meow hits the stage like a glittery one-woman

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Mon Dec 29
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King Charles III

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

The royal family is a soap opera that the whole nation loves to tune into – even the Scots. And Mike Bartlett’s audacious new comedy imagines their next episode as if it were Will Shakespeare scripting ‘The Thick of It’. Elizabeth II is dead, Charles III finally ascends the throne and promptly clashes with a handsome, populist Labour PM (sorry Ed, his name’s Tristram). Parliament is hellbent on restricting the freedom of the press but, in agonies of conscience, Charles

  1. Wyndham's Theatre Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DA
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jan 31
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New and limited run shows

3 Winters

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. National Theatre, Lyttelton South Bank, SE1 9PX
  2. Mon Dec 22 - Tue Feb 3
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Assassins

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Menier Chocolate Factory 53 Southwark St, SE1 1RU
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Mar 7
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Billy the Kid: a Panto Western

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Rosemary Branch Theatre Shepperton Road, Islington, N1 3DT
  2. Sun Dec 21 - Sat Jan 10
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Cindermouse

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Little Angel Theatre Dagmar Passage, Cross Street, N1 2DN
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Feb 1
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Cinderella and the Beanstalk

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Theatre 503 503 Battersea Park Rd, SW11 3BW
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jan 10
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East Is East

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Trafalgar Studios 14 Whitehall, SW1A 2DY
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jan 3
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Edward Scissorhands

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Sadler's Wells Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Jan 11
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Electra

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Old Vic 103 The Cut, Waterloo Rd, SE1 8NB
  2. Sat Dec 20
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The Little Match Girl

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Lilian Baylis Studio Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Fri Jan 9
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Mother Goose

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Hackney Empire 291 Mare St, E8 1EJ
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Jan 4
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God Bless the Child

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Royal Court Theatre Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
  2. Sat Dec 20
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Golem

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Young Vic The Cut, SE1 8LZ
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jan 31
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Great Britain

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Haymarket Theatre Royal 18 Suffolk Street, SW1Y 4HT
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jan 10
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Grimm Tales

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Bargehouse Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse St, SE1 9PH
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Feb 15
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Henry IV Part I & II

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Barbican Centre Silk St, EC2Y 8DS
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jan 24
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Jabberwocky

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Little Angel Theatre Dagmar Passage, Cross Street, N1 2DN
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Feb 1
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Made In Dagenham

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Adelphi Theatre The Strand, WC2R 0NS
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Mar 28
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The Scottsboro Boys

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Garrick Theatre 2 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0HH
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Feb 21
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Sirens

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Soho Theatre 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Jan 4
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Usagi Yojimbo

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Southwark Playhouse Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Jan 4
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Long-running shows

The 39 Steps

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Criterion Theatre 218-223 Piccadilly, SW1Y 4XA
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Mar 28
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Billy Elliot the Musical

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Victoria Palace Theatre 126 Victoria Street, SW1E 5EA
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Dec 19
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The Book of Mormon

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Prince of Wales Theatre Coventry St, W1D 6AS
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Mar 7
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Theatre Royal Drury Lane Catherine St, WC2B 5JF
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Oct 31
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  1. Gielgud Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6AR
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat May 23
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Jersey Boys

  • Rated as: 5/5
  1. Piccadilly Theatre 4 Denman Street, W1D 7DY
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Oct 25
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Les Miserables

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Queen’s Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6BA
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Sep 26
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Made In Dagenham

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Adelphi Theatre The Strand, WC2R 0NS
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Mar 28
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Matilda the Musical

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Cambridge Theatre Earlham St, WC2H 9HU
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sun Dec 20
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War Horse

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice
  1. New London Theatre Drury Lane, WC2B 5PQ
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Oct 24
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The Woman in Black

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Fortune Theatre Russell Street, WC2B 5HH
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Sat Jul 25
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Users say

7 comments
Brian M
Brian M

Othello - Malachite Theatre Company - St Leonard's Church (Shoreditch) 

Excellent performances by Danielle Larose, Jude Owusu and Martin Coat as the three main characters of this folio version of Othello,Taking an Elizabethan (the first!) version of the play as a starting point, this production is brilliantly paced and brings out subtleties I had not seen before.Owusu plays Othello steeped in jealousy and confusion rather than with power and anger, Coat plays Iago with cunning and yet with some vulnerability. Larose's Desdemona is no passive victim.All in all, another brilliant performance by the Malachite's.Go see it.

Ninhom Passmore
Ninhom Passmore

Billy Elliet the Musical is brilliant awesome production. I was totally captivated. Will watch again, if chance is permitted.

Peter Lindley
Peter Lindley

W.E.B Bois: A Man for All Times until 1st September at the Victoria and Albert Museum, book online or call 0207 942 2211. Sometimes people can only hear your colour." A line from the powerful and intensely moving story of W.E.B. Du Bois, 1868 to 1963, American Civil Rights Leader and Activist who devoted his life to the strggle for equality by Afro-American people told in Brian Richardson's one man show. It runs until 1st September - get a ticket if you can before they sell out. It's difficult to overstate the importance and impact of this play. It's what theatre is all about. It's moving, informative, tender, funny, and at times truly terrifying. In a masterful demonstration of acting Brian Richardson is Dr W.E.B. Du Bois. His portrayal of the final days of the 93 year old Dr. Bois in the last scene of the play is stunning. I was so immersed in his performance I had to stop myself from offering him a helping hand as he shook and struggled to reach his seat. I don't mind admitting that I cried for him and for the terrible injustices imposed on his fellow Americans by white folk. However, I left the theatre elated that I had seen something very special indeed determined to learn more about Dr Du Bois and the American Civil Rights movement. Dr Du Bois died on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream..." speech, exiled in Ghana on 27 August 1963 only a year before the reforms he fought for became enshrined in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

phil
phil

I thought Ghost Stories was awesoem, but since its not on anymore, its rather academic.

Dara
Dara

Ghost Stories was the worst 'thing' I have ever witnessed. Yours sincerely, An ambulance driver

lynne
lynne

arriving may 2012

marlene Dodes-Callahan
marlene Dodes-Callahan

Who reviewed Ghost Sories.? On your recommendation, of four stars, I expected something more professional, engaging, thoughtful than this What a waste of time and money .