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London theatre critics' choice

Our theatre critics recommend the best London theatre of the moment

Titanic

Critics' choice

I think it’s probably fair to say that the last time I was on the verge of tears at the Charing Cross Theatre, it was because I was really sad that I was in the Charing Cross Theatre…

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Charing Cross Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday August 6 2016

The Deep Blue Sea

Critics' choice

Terence Rattigan’s rehabilitation from ‘Noël Coward’s cheesy mate’ to ‘the English Chekhov’ started on the Lyttelton stage with the NT’s devastating, Cumberbatch-starring 2010 production of ‘After the Dance’…

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National Theatre , South Bank Monday June 27 2016 - Wednesday August 17 2016

The Taming of the Shrew

Critics' choice

You may have heard of William Shakespeare, he’s quite famous. But does that mean we should stick his plays on stages in 2016 even if they are sexist relics? 

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Shakespeare's Globe , South Bank Until Saturday August 6 2016

Cuttin' It

Critics' choice

There’s something off-puttingly literal in calling a play about female genital mutilation ‘Cuttin’ It’…

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Royal Court Theatre , Belgravia Until Saturday July 30 2016

The Threepenny Opera

Critics' choice

This is a bit more bloody like it. For me, the only blot on the record of new-ish National Theatre boss Rufus Norris is the disproportionate amount of his first year spent tinkering with Damon Albarn’s not-very-good musical ‘Wonder.land’…

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National Theatre, Olivier , South Bank Until Thursday September 1 2016
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Blue/Orange

Critics' choice

Joe Penhall’s ‘Blue/Orange’ is the defining play of the New Labour era, a dark satire on the bureaucratisation of culture and abuse of political correctness…

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Young Vic , Southwark Until Saturday July 2 2016

Cuttin' It

Critics' choice

There’s something off-puttingly literal in calling a play about female genital mutilation ‘Cuttin’ It’…

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Royal Court Theatre , Belgravia Until Saturday July 30 2016

Titanic

Critics' choice

I think it’s probably fair to say that the last time I was on the verge of tears at the Charing Cross Theatre, it was because I was really sad that I was in the Charing Cross Theatre…

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Charing Cross Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday August 6 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…

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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 September 17 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

The Deep Blue Sea

Critics' choice

Terence Rattigan’s rehabilitation from ‘Noël Coward’s cheesy mate’ to ‘the English Chekhov’ started on the Lyttelton stage with the NT’s devastating, Cumberbatch-starring 2010 production of ‘After the Dance’…

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National Theatre , South Bank Monday June 27 2016 - Wednesday August 17 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

Les Miserables

Critics' choice

If the second longest running show in the West End was looking a little tired, a rejuvenating orchestral facelift was just what the doctor ordered. Cameron Mackintosh's 'little girl' has shaken off that 1980s synth vibe and finally woken up to the organic noughties. This is a new, richer sound with strong operatic undertones and even the faint echoes of chamber music. Led by compelling ex-'Phantom…' Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, this dynamic cast blows a whirlwind through the Queen's Theatre, hurtling along Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's famous melodrama.

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Queen's Theatre , Soho Until Saturday March 4 2017

Matilda the Musical

Critics' choice

'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' must be making its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, a very pair of proud parents. Opening to rave reviews in Stratford-upon Avon before transferring to the West End in 2011 and snatching up Olivier Awards with all the alacrity of a sticky-fingered child in a sweetshop, Matthew Warchus's RSC production remains a treat.

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Cambridge Theatre , Covent Garden Until Sunday May 28 2017

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 August 27 2016
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