Latest theatre reviews

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

As Is

Critics' choice

Billed as ‘The First Aids Play’, having opened in New York in 1985, you’d be likely to forgive William Hoffman’s ‘As Is’ a lot, just for the fact that it broke such new ground. That it’s also sensitive and radically empathetic is a bonus, but the fact that it’s strikingly inventive and often very funny makes this revival a moving and heartfelt thrill.

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Trafalgar Studios Until Saturday August 1 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird

Just weeks after the shooting dead of nine people in a church in South Carolina, this much-feted production of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ hits the Barbican with renewed force. Timothy Sheader’s production – originally for the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park – is as filled with charm and character as Harper Lee’s 1960 novel.

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Barbican Centre Until Saturday July 25 2015

The Dreamers

‘The Dreamers’ is billed as a musical, which it’s really not. There’s not enough narrative or character progression in either the songs or the story for that. Really it’s a collection of rocky new tunes written about the Great War that have been given a staged performance: a pop concert, musical showcase and history lesson rolled into one.

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St James Theatre Until Saturday July 11 2015

Lampedusa

Anders Lustgarten has emerged in the past few years as perhaps Britain’s most visible and visibly engaged political playwright. He makes clear-headed pronouncements about the sorry state of political work in the UK, he’s a passionate activist, and his plays are filled with righteous fury. What’s frustrating is that, so far at least, they’ve fallen short of their palpable potential.One half of ‘Lampedusa’ is Lustgarten’s best work to date – the story of a man from the titular Italian island forced by poverty to take a job fishing the bodies of failed migrants from the Mediterranean Sea.

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Soho Theatre Until Saturday July 25 2015

Measure for Measure

As the clock ticks down on his final year as the Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole puts flesh on the bones of one of Shakespeare’s most philosophically dense plays in a production that gives us light as well as shade.

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Shakespeare's Globe Tuesday July 14 2015 - Saturday October 17 2015

The Importance of Being Earnest

More so than anything by that Shakespeare chap,‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ can surely lay claim to being the single most influential British play ever written. Not necessarily because of its influence on theatre, but because it’s almost impossible to imagine a single English sitcom of the last century existing without its mix of finely-crafted farce, sardonic fascination with class and camp, sexless romantic intriguing.

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Vaudeville Theatre Until Saturday November 7 2015

Twelfth Night

As midsummer brings a scorching heatwave, spending an evening outside watching a play in London can make you feel a little like you’re on holiday

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The Actors' Church Until Friday July 24 2015

The Trial

Kafka’s endlessly malleable satire about a man arrested for an unspecified crime is reimagined as a roiling Freudian psychodrama by director Richard Jones and playwright Nick Gill. 

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Young Vic Until Saturday August 22 2015

Asking Rembrandt

Like Madonna, Vangelis and Björk, the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn thought it would be easier for everyone if he just stuck to his first name

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Old Red Lion Theatre Tuesday July 7 2015 - Saturday July 18 2015

Bromance

Critics' choice

Jay Z and Kanye West; Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart; Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller: a bromance can be a beautiful thing. And it’s most definitely working for new circus trio Barely Methodical Troupe who, in their first show, take platonic man love to a new acrobatic level.But does three make a crowd?

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Udderbelly Tuesday July 7 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Alpha Beta

Newlyweds beware! ‘Alpha Beta’ is about the worst sort of marriage breakdown. Even if you’re full of hope about the future and still have some faith in your loved one, Ted Whitehead’s play may have you pondering possible exits.Purni Morell, artistic director at children’s theatre the Unicorn, has transformed the tiny Finborough Theatre back into what it once was – a spacious living room.

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Finborough Theatre Tuesday July 7 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Asking Rembrandt

Like Madonna, Vangelis and Björk, the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn thought it would be easier for everyone if he just stuck to his first name. Steve Gooch’s new period play looks at Rembrandt’s life and work, and whether artists have to compromise if they’re ever to make any money. Gooch builds up long, pithy exchanges that are always capped by some mildly witty line.

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Old Red Lion Theatre Tuesday July 7 2015 - Saturday July 18 2015

Bend It Like Beckham

Critics' choice

Like the England mens’ team at their very best, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ – the West End’s latest musical adaptation of a hit Britflick – is about 50 percent nervously wondering where this is all going, and 50 percent pure euphoria. And that’ll do me.Moans first: it starts slowly, and the songs are so-so.

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Phoenix Theatre Until Saturday October 24 2015

Bromance

Critics' choice

Jay Z and Kanye West; Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart; Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller: a bromance can be a beautiful thing. And it’s most definitely working for new circus trio Barely Methodical Troupe who, in their first show, take platonic man love to a new acrobatic level.But does three make a crowd? The company riff on that possibility in this high-fun, low-key piece, which mixes goofy clowning and pared-back-but-astonishing circus skills.

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Udderbelly Tuesday July 7 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Luna Gale

‘Luna Gale’ might be set in Iowa, but its story of a child protection system in crisis – resources stretched to the limit, rocked by tragedy, buckling under the weight of bureaucratic oversight – feels sadly familiar.

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Hampstead Theatre Until Saturday July 18 2015

An Oak Tree

Critics' choice

A jobbing actor who reinvented himself as a mischievous master of meta-textual playwriting, Tim Crouch is a revered figure in the world of experimental theatre. And he’s increasingly found himself feted by the mainstream: last year the Royal Court staged his brain-frying first ‘proper’ play ‘Adler & Gibb’ in its main house; and now the NT hosts what they’re calling the ‘tenth anniversary revival’ of 2005’s ‘An Oak Tree’.

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National Theatre Until Wednesday July 15 2015

The Seagull

Critics' choice

This electric, blackly funny adaptation of ‘The Seagull’ brings out both the venom and the anguish of hopeless longing in Chekhov’s 1895 original. Torben Betts’ often terse, expletive-filled update will probably have Chekhov purists pining for their samovars, yet while certain subtleties are cast aside, this is an intelligently provocative production, which at moments even seems to point towards the Russian Revolution.

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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Until Saturday July 11 2015

An Oak Tree

Critics' choice

A jobbing actor who reinvented himself as a mischievous master of meta-textual playwriting, Tim Crouch is a revered figure in the world of experimental theatre. And he’s increasingly found himself feted by the mainstream: last year the Royal Court staged his brain-frying first ‘proper’ play ‘Adler & Gibb’ in its main house; and now the NT hosts what they’re calling the ‘tenth anniversary revival’ of 2005’s ‘An Oak Tree’.

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National Theatre Until Wednesday July 15 2015

Oresteia

Critics' choice

What a piece of theatre this is: writer-director Robert Icke follows up his remarkable stage reworking of Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ with an even more remarkable reworking of Aeschylus’s ‘Oresteia’ trilogy.The first play in the Almeida’s ‘Greeks’ season, ’Oresteia’ is a root-and-branch transformation of Aeschylus’s 458BC version of the fall of the House of Agamemnon, with the language, morality and much of the storytelling almost entirely Icke’s.

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Almeida Theatre Until Saturday July 18 2015

1984

Critics' choice

'1984' returns to the West End from June 2015. This review is of the show's 2014 run. Headlong’s adaptation of George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is such a sense-overloadingly visceral experience that it was only the second time around, as it transfers to the West End, that I realised quite how political it was.

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Playhouse Theatre Until Saturday September 5 2015
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