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London theatre reviews

Read through our latest London theatre reviews and find out what our theatre team made of the city's new openings

Sex Workers' Opera

The stage is set ­– with a giant golden platform sandal – and out walks co-director and co-producer Alex Etchart dressed as a cross between a ringmaster and a rooster. It’s a strong look and suitably suggestive of the mash-up of genres that follows…

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Pleasance Theatre , Lower Holloway Until Sunday May 29 2016

This Is Living

While ‘This Is Living’ is about love, loss, grief and recovery, in formal terms it’s just as much about ambiguity – ambiguity as a means of telling a story full of such Big Human Themes. Throughout this ambitious debut, writer-director Liam Borrett constantly tests the limits of what can be left unsaid, what doesn’t have to be told linearly, what can go without being definitely real or unreal. The play opens with Alice (Tamla Kari) lying face-down in a pool of water, then waking up spluttering in the arms of husband Mike (Michael Socha). He’s confused: didn’t she die several hours before? Then, from this strange, dreamish limboland, we’re sent back to the pair's first meeting on the tube: two twentysomething northerners who flirt, fall in love, marry, endure a miscarriage, fall out, and so on – in no particular order. Maybe it’s because these events are so universal – and unremarkable – that Borrett is so keen to deconstruct their traditional arc. It’s delivered with clever economy in Sarah Beaton’s stripped-down set; changes in lighting are all that’s used to signify the jumps in time and place. But as the play enters its second act, the chopping and changing starts to cross that fine line between being richly ambiguous and frustratingly obtuse. Luckily, the structural confusion in offset by two raw, soulful and utterly captivating turns from Kari and Socha. As actors they’re certainly put through the wringer: howling with pain one second, laughing contentedly the next, t

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Trafalgar Studios , Whitehall Until Saturday June 11 2016

Stone Face

We’re both horrified and fascinated by stories of children rescued from captivity, like the Fritzl case in Austria. Confined their entire lives, how do they begin to negotiate the world outside, if they’ve never known it? 

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Finborough Theatre , West Brompton Until Saturday June 11 2016

The Joke

An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a joke. They’re stuck there for well over an hour. That’s the idea behind Will Adamsdale’s sporadically entertaining new comedy…

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Camden People's Theatre , Euston Until Saturday June 4 2016

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, which follows junior psychiatrist Bruce and senior psychiatrist Robert – both white – as they battle over the fate of sectioned black patient Christopher…

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Young Vic , Southwark Until Saturday July 2 2016

Monster Raving Loony

Critics' choice

Is there a more patriotic Englishman than playwright James Graham? The man’s heroic obsession with the most obscure and least sexy bits of post-Imperial British politics always makes me want to down a frothy flagon of non-craft ale in celebration…

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Soho Theatre , Soho Until Saturday June 18 2016

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…

Read more
Young Vic , Southwark Until Saturday July 2 2016

Sex Workers' Opera

The stage is set ­– with a giant golden platform sandal – and out walks co-director and co-producer Alex Etchart dressed as a cross between a ringmaster and a rooster. It’s a strong look and suitably suggestive of the mash-up of genres that follows…

Read more
Pleasance Theatre , Lower Holloway Until Sunday May 29 2016

Stone Face

We’re both horrified and fascinated by stories of children rescued from captivity, like the Fritzl case in Austria. Confined their entire lives, how do they begin to negotiate the world outside, if they’ve never known it? 

Read more
Finborough Theatre , West Brompton Until Saturday June 11 2016

This Is Living

While ‘This Is Living’ is about love, loss, grief and recovery, in formal terms it’s just as much about ambiguity – ambiguity as a means of telling a story full of such Big Human Themes…

Read more
Trafalgar Studios , Whitehall Until Saturday June 11 2016

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…

Read more
Young Vic , Southwark Until Saturday July 2 2016

Reassembled, Slightly Askew

Critics' choice

There’s a whole messy, marvellous world at the points where plays, immersive theatre and art installations come together. Battersea Arts Centre is particularly good at providing a home for these hard-to-classify experiences…

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Battersea Arts Centre , Battersea Until Saturday May 28 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Critics' choice

‘Did Emma Rice send you?’ spits Lucy Thackeray’s Tina Quince as Margaret Ann Bain’s Philostrate tries to confiscate her tambourine. ‘I’ll have you know this was given to me by Mark Rylance’. For all the blithe interviews in which new Globe boss Rice – the theatre’s third leader after Rylance and Dominic Dromgoole – has said how little she knows about Shakespeare, let’s make one thing clear: she knows exactly what she’s doing…

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Shakespeare's Globe , South Bank Until Sunday September 11 2016

Elegy

Critics' choice

Four years ago, brainbox playwright Nick Payne’s breakthrough ‘Constellations’ blazed into the West End like a thousand suns…

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Donmar Warehouse , Covent Garden Until Saturday June 18 2016

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

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

Les Blancs

Critics' choice

Director Yaël Farber is an extraordinary talent, a South African whose work combines European grandeur with boilingly passionate emotion and an almost religious sense of ritual…

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National Theatre , South Bank Tuesday May 31 2016 - Thursday June 2 2016

People, Places and Things

Critics' choice

Before I really get busy with the hyperbole, it may be worth noting that second time around, one of the best things about Denise Gough’s astounding performance in Duncan Macmillan’s addiction drama is how understated it is…

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Wyndham's Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday June 18 2016

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