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London theatre critics' choice

Our theatre critics recommend the best London theatre of the moment

Show Boat

Critics' choice

They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore: this marvellous production of one of the all-time great musicals – already festooned in praise from a run at the resurgent Sheffield Crucible – feels like a strangely brave choice to put in the West End of 2016…

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New London Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday January 7 2017

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Critics' choice

‘We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one, what a beautiful day, we’re not scared.’ Michael Rosen’s rhythmic tale about a family which goes looking for bears is addictively popular with tots…

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Little Angel Theatre , Islington Until Sunday June 26 2016

Boy

Critics' choice

After a week in which our rulers have blithely exposed how isolated from us they are by their wealth, it’s at least a vague silver lining to note that this is the year the anti-austerity play seems to have come of age…

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Almeida Theatre , Barnsbury Until Saturday May 28 2016

X

Critics' choice

Bluuuurdy hell.  I mean.  Where to even start with ‘X’…

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Royal Court Theatre , Belgravia Until Saturday May 7 2016
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Boy

Critics' choice

After a week in which our rulers have blithely exposed how isolated from us they are by their wealth, it’s at least a vague silver lining to note that this is the year the anti-austerity play seems to have come of age…

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Almeida Theatre , Barnsbury Until Saturday May 28 2016

The House of In Between

Critics' choice

Hijras are India’s ‘third gender’. Male by birth, and usually – though not always – eunuchs, they belong to a subculture that has existed on the Subcontinent for thousands of years…

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Saturday April 30 2016

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Critics' choice

‘We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one, what a beautiful day, we’re not scared.’ Michael Rosen’s rhythmic tale about a family which goes looking for bears is addictively popular with tots…

Read more
Little Angel Theatre , Islington Until Sunday June 26 2016

The Book of Mormon

Critics' choice

Brace yourself for a shock: ‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Broadway-munching musical is not particularly shocking. Sure, there are ‘fucks’ and ‘cunts’ and gags about baby rape – but beneath it all, this is a big-hearted affair that pays note-perfect homage to the spirit of Broadway’s golden age as much as the sounds. The strapping young Latter Day Saints missionaries in ‘The Book of Mormon’ are as cartoonish as any ‘South Park’ character, with the endearing alpha-male woodenness of the ‘Team America’ puppets.

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Prince of Wales Theatre , Piccadilly Circus Until Saturday July 23 2016

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Critics' choice

A luminous roller-coaster ride of colour, spectacle and fantastical happenings, Sam Mendes’s stage version of Roald Dahl’s adored children’s book is still as entertaining as ever, two years and a couple of casts down the line. And though a lot of that comes down to the show’s garishly-hued stage tricks, it’s also due to the main attraction.

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Theatre Royal Drury Lane , Covent Garden Until Saturday January 7 2017

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Critics' choice

Three theatres, three casts, one major disaster and seven Olivier Awards on, the National Theatre’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel about Christopher Boone, the teenage ‘mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’ remains a thing of unbridled wonder.The occasion for this re-review is the end of the enforced layoff inflicted upon ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. The show figuratively blew the roof off when it transferred from the NT to the Apollo Theatre, but unfortunately the ageing ceiling responded by literally collapsing, necessitating a change of venue and months off.

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Gielgud Theatre , Soho Until Saturday October 29 2016

Cleansed

Critics' choice

The dear old National Theatre – lest we forget, an institution fairly recently run by Trevor Nunn – hasn’t been afraid to wallop the shit out of its audiences lately. Last year ended with ‘Evening at the Talk House’ and ‘Here We Go’ – two difficult shows that prompted audience walkouts and bleating from some sectors of the press that new NT boss Rufus Norris had lost his marbles…

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National Theatre , South Bank Tuesday May 3 2016 - Thursday May 5 2016

Cyprus Avenue

Critics' choice

The last show I saw by Irish playwright David Ireland was ‘I Promise You Sex and Violence’, a wildly offensive bad taste comedy that opened to venomous reviews at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe and definitely stands in the top five worst things I’ve ever seen in any medium…

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Royal Court Theatre , Belgravia Until Saturday May 7 2016

Guys and Dolls

Critics' choice

Frank Loesser’s ‘Guys and Dolls’ is routinely referred to as the greatest musical of all time, which is, frankly, a heckuva lot to live up to…

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Phoenix Theatre , London Until Sunday October 30 2016

In the Heights

Critics' choice

A rap-meets-salsa musical set in the Latino community of Manhattan’s Washington Heights, it remains as colourful, refreshing and full of Puerto Rican zing as a frozen fruit Piragua slurped between lovers on the sidewalk.

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King's Cross Theatre , King's Cross Until Sunday October 30 2016

Jersey Boys

Critics' choice

Here's the 'Jersey Boys' concept. Take one gleaming back-catalogue – that of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, whose Bob Gaudio-penned songs have become so woven into the fabric of Western pop culture that it's easy to forget who actually wrote them. Next, instead of torturously extrapolating a zany plot out of the lyrics, simply make the story of 'Jersey Boys' the story of the Four Seasons. Get a top-notch book, written by Rick Elice and Woody Allen collaborator Marshall Brickman.

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Piccadilly Theatre , Piccadilly Circus Until Sunday April 16 2017

Kings of War

Critics' choice

In the last few months it feels like Belgian director Ivo van Hove has gone from being one of those distant European geniuses whose work could only be seen in brief surtitled stints at the Barbican, to one of our own…

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Barbican Centre , Barbican Until Sunday May 1 2016
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