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

The James Plays

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

One good reason for separately reviewing each part of Rona Munro’s epic trilogy about the Stuart kings of Scotland is to stress how exceptionally good the first instalment is.Heavy with politics, characters and period references, history plays can often take some acclimatisation. Not so ‘James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock’. Furiously exciting from the start, this 1420s-set production cheekily references Shakespeare’s most beloved history play as it begins with James

  1. National Theatre, Olivier South Bank, SE1 9PX
  2. Thu Oct 23 - Tue Oct 28
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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. Until Sat Jan 31
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Forbidden Broadway

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

'Forbidden Broadway' transfers from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the Vaudeville Theatre from Sep 9. Ripping through audiences for over 30 years, this take-no-prisoners Broadway revue is dangerously funny. Lining up nearly the entirety of the West End’s current offerings in its sights, it delivers hit after hit after hit, until multiple organ failure feels just a punchline away.Originally created by Gerard Alessandrini as a bunch of scribbled travesties, ‘Forbidden

  1. Vaudeville Theatre 404 The Strand, WC2R 0NH
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sat Nov 22
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New and limited run shows

Electra

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Old Vic 103 The Cut, Waterloo Rd, SE1 8NB
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sat Dec 20
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The Girl of the Golden West

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice
  1. London Coliseum St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4ES
  2. Wed Oct 22 - Sat Nov 1
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Great Britain

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

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Royal Opera House Bow St, WC2E 9DD
  2. Sat Oct 25 - Sat Nov 1
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The Vertical Hour

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Park Theatre Clifton Terrace, N4 3JP
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Oct 26
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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. Mon Oct 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. Mon Oct 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. Mon Oct 20 - Sat Jan 10
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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. Mon Oct 20 - Sat Oct 31
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  1. Gielgud Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6AR
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sat May 23
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Jersey Boys

  • Rated as: 5/5
  1. Piccadilly Theatre 4 Denman Street, W1D 7DY
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Feb 15
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Les Miserables

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Queen’s Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6BA
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sat Apr 25
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Matilda the Musical

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Cambridge Theatre Earlham St, WC2H 9HU
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Dec 20
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War Horse

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice
  1. New London Theatre Drury Lane, WC2B 5PQ
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sat Feb 14
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The Woman in Black

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Fortune Theatre Russell Street, WC2B 5HH
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sat Jul 25
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Users say

6 comments
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 .