Latest theatre reviews

Find out what our theatre team made of London's new openings

Kill Me Now

Right, ‘cripping up’: how do you feel about it? Because the answer to that question is going to make a big difference on how much you get out of this Brad Fraser premiere. It’s a story that needs to be told, and is here told with bravery and the best of all possible intentions.

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Park Theatre Until Sunday March 29 2015

Multitudes

John Hollingsworth’s first full-length play, ‘Multitudes’, is far funnier than it should be. Strip it down to its synopsis and it sounds like a fairly mechanical exercise in political theatre, a production aching to be relevant, but it manages to be and do much more than that, and is written with wit and an appealing lightness of touch.

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Tricycle Until Saturday March 21 2015

Antigone

This version of Sophocles’s 2,500 year-old tragedy starts in a blur of ‘blud’, ‘fam’ and ‘crew’. Ancient Greece this is not; adapter Roy Williams instead puts us in a modern, grungy, urban Thebes surrounded by motorways and full of gang warfare

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Theatre Royal Stratford East Until Saturday March 14 2015

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

The Brits love an underdog. The Yanks love a winner. And Carole King was both. So it’s no wonder this biographical jukebox musical is shaping up to be a transatlantic smash, having already conquered Broadway.

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Aldwych Theatre Until Saturday March 12 2016

The Mikvah Project

‘The Mikvah Project’ is set at a Jewish Mikvah, a pool used for ritual cleansing, and explores the burgeoning relationship between two men. It is a simple story but the textures in this production – the agile text, enveloping soundscape, subtle lighting and abstract projections – make for a beautifully nuanced show. 

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The Yard Theatre Until Saturday March 14 2015

The Nether

Critics' choice

In Jennifer Haley’s smart sci-fi thriller, ‘The Nether’ is the future of the internet and it’s moved on from cat memes. It’s a high-tech digital world where you can live in a virtual reality and commit crimes without consequence. Forget Kim Kardashian’s bum – this is true internet horror. 

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Duke of York’s Theatre Until Saturday April 25 2015

Closer

Is ‘Closer’ the best play ever written about London?It’s not so much that Patrick Marber’s 1997 masterpiece has a fine eye for the nooks and crannies of the old City, though there is that – the play and 2004 film have pretty much made obscure Victorian memorial Postman’s Park famous.

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Donmar Warehouse Until Saturday April 4 2015

Farinelli and the King

laire van Kampen has been the Globe’s de facto in-house composer since it opened in 1997: if anyone has earned the right to have their debut play staged here, it’s her.

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Sam Wanamaker Playhouse Until Sunday March 8 2015

Happy Days

Critics' choice

If you want to showcase an actor’s range, bury her up to her waist, and then her neck, in gravel. Reprising her role in Natalie Abrahami’s brutal and tender 2014 production, Juliet Stevenson spends the entirety of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’ buried alive in what looks like a chunk of Jurassic coast. It’s the narrow pivot for an extraordinarily expressive performance.

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Young Vic Until Saturday March 21 2015

Fireworks

Critics' choice

At the Royal Court these days, it often feels like the difficult experimental work is put in the main house and the straight plays are tucked away in the small upstairs theatre. Which occasionally seems a bit topsy turvy, but it’s usually new voices being given their first break in the studio – what other major London theatre is going to stage a brand new play by a Palestinian playwright you’ve never heard of?

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Royal Court Theatre Until Saturday March 14 2015

A View from the Bridge

Critics' choice

To say visionary Belgium director Ivo van Hove’s production of ‘A View from the Bridge’ is the best show in the West End at the moment is like saying Stonehenge is the current best rock arrangement in Wiltshire: it almost feels silly to compare this pure, primal, colossal thing with anything else in Theatreland.

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Wyndham's Theatre Until Saturday April 11 2015

Britain's Best Recruiting Sergeant

Children of Britain: Do Your Duty. The Unicorn Needs You! Actually, no: You Need The Unicorn.The latest main stage offering at London’s best and most uncompromising kids’ theatre shows exactly why. Joy Wilkinson’s ode to the golden age of music hall actually turns out to be a training ground for young audiences (aged eight-plus).

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Unicorn Theatre Saturday March 7 2015 - Sunday March 15 2015

Cirkopolis

Critics' choice

Montreal’s Cirque Eloize takes inspiration from ‘Metropolis’, Franz Kafka and Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ for its latest ‘cirque nouveau’ production, ‘Cirkopolis’, which suggests we can all escape the horrifying daily grind by unleashing our own imaginations.

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Peacock Theatre Until Saturday February 28 2015

Fireworks

Critics' choice

At the Royal Court these days, it often feels like the difficult experimental work is put in the main house and the straight plays are tucked away in the small upstairs theatre. Which occasionally seems a bit topsy turvy, but it’s usually new voices being given their first break in the studio – what other major London theatre is going to stage a brand new play by a Palestinian playwright you’ve never heard of?

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Royal Court Theatre Until Saturday March 14 2015

Hamlet

Following Maxine Peake’s short-back-and-sides turn in Manchester last year, English Repertory Theatre stages its own gender-blind casting of the Shakespeare’s brooding young prince. This time the role of the Bard’s great Dane goes to 26-year-old actress Rachel Waring, whose tousled black hair reminds of a slightly goth Harry Styles.

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Cockpit Theatre Until Sunday March 15 2015

How I Learned to Drive

Critics' choice

Saying Paula Vogel can write well is on a par with saying Kanye West is quite fond of himself. Her astonishing 1997 play ‘How I Learned to Drive’ brims with a real, raw poetry and treats the harrowing subject of child abuse with an audacious lightness of touch. It is very funny and horribly upsetting, and you can absolutely see why it won Vogel a Pulitzer Prize.

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Southwark Playhouse Until Saturday March 14 2015

The Nether

Critics' choice

In Jennifer Haley’s smart sci-fi thriller, ‘The Nether’ is the future of the internet and it’s moved on from cat memes. It’s a high-tech digital world where you can live in a virtual reality and commit crimes without consequence. Forget Kim Kardashian’s bum – this is true internet horror. 

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Duke of York’s Theatre Until Saturday April 25 2015

Happy Days

Critics' choice

If you want to showcase an actor’s range, bury her up to her waist, and then her neck, in gravel. Reprising her role in Natalie Abrahami’s brutal and tender 2014 production, Juliet Stevenson spends the entirety of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’ buried alive in what looks like a chunk of Jurassic coast.

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Young Vic Until Saturday March 21 2015

Assassins

Critics' choice

There is a delightful photo doing the rounds of 84-year-old musical-theatre legend Stephen Sondheim calling in at a pie shop in Tooting to catch a site-specific fringe revival of his ‘Sweeney Todd’. It’s good he’s happy to see his shows in small spaces: it’s still surprising how few bona fide hits he’s had. Still, a fistful of smashes, as much critical acclaim as a man can handle and the nickname ‘God’ is probably some compensation.

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Menier Chocolate Factory Until Saturday March 7 2015

The Book of Mormon

Critics' choice

Nic Rouleau and Brian Sears are the current Elders Price and Cunningham Brace yourself for a shock: ‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Broadway-munching musical is not particularly shocking.

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Prince of Wales Theatre Until Saturday May 30 2015

The Changeling

Critics' choice

If comedy equals tragedy plus time, then Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s 1622 tragedy ‘The Changeling’ has had almost four centuries to get funny.Some of it already was: setting aside the darker Middleton-penned main story for a moment, Rowley’s subplot about romantic shenanigans in a loony bin was always intended to elicit a few un-PC lols. That’s why exasperated modern directors often give it the heave.

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Sam Wanamaker Playhouse Until Sunday March 1 2015

Gods and Monsters

Critics' choice

The storm that once crackled over Frankenstein’s castle has drifted into the mind of legendary director James Whale. He is the monster’s most famous screen adaptor, and this biographical drama offers a semi-autobiographical look at his twilight years. Living in comfortable retirement with his maid Maria, enjoying frequent visits from attractive male guests, the Whale we meet is nevertheless suffering through strokes and the gradual disintegration of his mind.

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Southwark Playhouse Until Saturday March 7 2015

Happy Days

Critics' choice

If you want to showcase an actor’s range, bury her up to her waist, and then her neck, in gravel. Reprising her role in Natalie Abrahami’s brutal and tender 2014 production, Juliet Stevenson spends the entirety of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’ buried alive in what looks like a chunk of Jurassic coast. It’s the narrow pivot for an extraordinarily expressive performance that burns itself into your mind’s eye, little human gesture by little human gesture.Winnie is a woman trapped within a hulking great metaphor: for the human condition, the fortitude of her sex, the miserliness of marriage and – Beckett not being one to snub the prosaic – the basic misery of the bloody Great British beach holiday. A harsh prism of light beats down from above. A palpitation-inducing alarm jolts her awake when she nods off. She has only the random contents of her handbag for consolation and an ineffectual husband (monosyllabic, ‘conceivably on the semi alert’, and either imprisoned or in retreat in his own private crawl space) for company. A gun sits just out of her reach.Once you peer around the immovable central image of life as a process of gradual erosion (hard-hats off to designer Vicki Mortimer here for the sickeningly realistic rock slides), there’s not much in ‘Happy Days’ that Beckett hasn’t done with more brilliance elsewhere. But it’s hard to imagine anyone bringing more warm multicolour to Beckett than Stevenson, or more subtle definition to the desperate cascade of thought. Witnessing

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Young Vic Until Saturday March 21 2015

Kim Noble – You're Not Alone

Critics' choice

Your opinion on any show from performance artist-slash-comedian Kim Noble may very come down to ethical questions. Do you think it’s acceptable for his video-reliant works to intrude into the lives of people who were given no choice over being included?

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Soho Theatre Until Saturday March 7 2015

My Night with Reg

Critics' choice

Given that theatre is not exactly an art form synonymous with staunch heterosexuality, it’s surprising how few shows about LGBT lives make it into the West End. But Kevin Elyot’s poignant comedy ‘My Night with Reg’ is deservedly doing so for the second time. 

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Apollo Shaftesbury Until Saturday April 11 2015

Made In Dagenham

Critics' choice

Much like the epithet ‘the best David Bowie album since “Scary Monsters”,’ describing a show as ‘the best British musical since “Matilda”’ is becoming one of those platitudes that sounds a bit less enthusiastic every time it’s trotted out.Nonetheless: ‘Made in Dagenham’ is the best British musical since ‘Matilda’, a funny, messy, surprisingly idiosyncratic movie adaptation that’s powered by a lot of heart, a lot of jokes, a fair few clichés and a fantastic performance from screen star Gemma Arterton.

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Adelphi Theatre Until Saturday April 11 2015

The Nether

Critics' choice

In Jennifer Haley’s smart sci-fi thriller, ‘The Nether’ is the future of the internet and it’s moved on from cat memes. It’s a high-tech digital world where you can live in a virtual reality and commit crimes without consequence. Forget Kim Kardashian’s bum – this is true internet horror. 

Read more
Duke of York’s Theatre Until Saturday April 25 2015

The Ruling Class

Critics' choice

Hotshot director Jamie Lloyd has built up a lot of goodwill with his populist, sleb-heavy seasons at Trafalgar Studios. And he cashes that goodwill in with a shot out of leftfield: half-forgotten playwright Peter Barnes’s ‘The Ruling Class’, a play that’s presumably never been revived because it is, frankly, fucking nuts.

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Trafalgar Studios Until Saturday April 11 2015
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