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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

BU21

BU21 is the name of an imagined passenger jet, shot down over Fulham by terrorists in the summer of 2017. Stuart Slade’s smart, cynical breakthrough play – a transfer from the tiny Theatre 503 – follows six Londoners who survive this catastrophic attack…

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Trafalgar Studios , Whitehall Until Saturday February 18 2017

Abigail

Ordinary bloke on the cusp of a midlife crisis meets beautiful younger woman with daddy issues. The tropes that writer Fiona Doyle is playing with in ‘Abigail’ are achingly familiar…

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The Bunker , Southwark Until Saturday February 4 2017

Wish List

Zero hours contracts – check. Government sanctions – check. Living with disability – check. Heartless, amoral, technocratic corporation that bears more than a little resemblance to a popular internet retailer – check.  Young writer Katherine Soper’s first play ‘Wish List’ touches so many Serious Social Issues that by rights the whole thing should feel like hard work…

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Royal Court Theatre , Belgravia Until Saturday February 11 2017

Giselle

English National Ballet has already done a ‘Giselle’ this season – the radically reimagined ballet created by the choreographer Akram Khan…

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London Coliseum , Covent Garden Until Sunday January 22 2017

The Kite Runner

By the end of this stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel, half the audience was crying, ovating and no doubt crying while ovating…

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Wyndham's Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday March 11 2017

The Tempest

Where the RSC has thrown cutting-edge digital wizardry at its current production of ‘The Tempest’, this smaller scale version at Southwark Playhouse goes right back to basics…

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Southwark Playhouse , Elephant and Castle Thursday January 19 2017 - Saturday January 28 2017

Three Sisters

Tracy Letts is not a huge fan of Chekhov. This adaptation of 'Three Sisters' - receiving its UK premiere - is Letts’s attempt to right a few ‘wrongs’…

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Union Theatre , Southwark Until Saturday February 4 2017

The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus

After years in the wilderness, Greek drama is cool. Rupert Goold’s blindingly good 2015 season of Athenian classics at the Almeida led to a ripple of fresh excitement around the world’s oldest plays…

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Finborough Theatre , West Brompton Until Saturday January 28 2017

Art

First time out, Matthew Warchus’s 1996 production of Yasmina Reza’s comedy ‘Art’ ran for eight years – longer than either of the world wars, David Cameron’s prime ministership or the complete run of ‘Breaking Bad’…

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Old Vic , Southwark Until Saturday February 18 2017

Hedda Gabler

Recommended

Starring an incandescent Ruth Wilson, Ivo van Hove’s modern production of Ibsen’s ‘Hedda Gabler’ rejects the usual, comforting, proto-feminist reading wherein its heroine does the terrible things she does because she is a victim…

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National Theatre, Lyttelton , South Bank Thursday January 19 2017 - Tuesday March 21 2017

Mary Stuart

Recommended

A family emergency on press day stopped me seeing both versions of Robert Icke’s stunning take on ‘Mary Stuart’…

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Almeida Theatre , Barnsbury Until Saturday January 28 2017

Saint Joan

For the Donmar’s seasonal show, director Josie Rourke uses everything she has to try and baste Bernard Shaw’s turkey-dry 1924 play about Joan of Arc – not least star Gemma Arterton, who turns in the best stage performance I’ve seen her give.   I’m not sure Rourke really makes a case for ‘Saint Joan’ as a classic (Schiller wrote a much better play about JofA that never gets performed). But at least she mostly distracts us from its failings with modern dress, video screens, a perpetually revolving stage, some silliness with it all being set in the banking world (which doesn’t really stand up but clearly isn’t meant to), and some deliciously OTT interpretations of Shaw’s sober characters, notably Fisayo Akinade’s camply fabulous Dauphin and Rory Keenan’s fearsome, amoral Inquisitor.   In a sense they’re all just window dressing for the exceptional Arterton, who is electrifying every moment she’s on stage as the farmer’s daughter who spurred the French to a memorable victory over the English at Orleans in 1429.    Her Joan is down to earth and guileless, cutting through the pompous prevarication of the French politicians and the convoluted ethical manoeuvres of the English with effortless grace. She says God told her to fight, but she says it with a sweet sincerity that’s a world away from the weapons-grade bullshit being deployed by the men. But at the same time she is a fanatic: her eyes are wide with a kind of simultaneous innocence and zealotry. Did she really hear voi

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Donmar Warehouse , Covent Garden Until Saturday February 18 2017

Mary Stuart

Recommended

A family emergency on press day stopped me seeing both versions of Robert Icke’s stunning take on ‘Mary Stuart’…

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Almeida Theatre , Barnsbury Until Saturday January 28 2017

Hedda Gabler

Recommended

Starring an incandescent Ruth Wilson, Ivo van Hove’s modern production of Ibsen’s ‘Hedda Gabler’ rejects the usual, comforting, proto-feminist reading wherein its heroine does the terrible things she does because she is a victim…

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National Theatre, Lyttelton , South Bank Thursday January 19 2017 - Tuesday March 21 2017

This House

Recommended

James Graham’s surprise hit about the fraught Westminster wranglings of the 1970s – first seen in London at the National Theatre in 2012 – has made its long-awaited West End transfer against a starkly changed political climate…

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Garrick Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday February 25 2017

Lazarus

A wealthy recluse, dying but somehow not dead, sits atop his New York tower, hallucinating his past and the music of David Bowie. If it was difficult to see where Thomas Newton, the stranded alien protagonist of the 1976 film 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' ended, and Bowie – who played him – began, then that goes double for its musical sequel, ‘Lazarus’.Co-written by Enda Walsh and the late Bowie, 'Lazarus', catches up with Newton (Michael C Hall) in the present day, as he morosely drinks gin in his featureless apartment. There is little actual plot, but a sense of events finally coming to a head, as Newton’s hope and despair become manifested as ingenue the Girl (Sophia Anne Caruso) and the psychotic Valentine (Michael Esper). Meanwhile his new PA, Elly (Amy Lennox), finds her personality is being overwritten by that of Thomas's lost love, Mary-Lou.Ivo van Hove's claustrophobic production is more like a mood than a story, a homage to Nicholas Roeg's hallucinatory film, but also, presumably, a window into the decade of secluded ill health that followed Bowie's withdrawal from public life in 2005.Does this make it a good musical? I dunno: it's weirdly caught between aggressive artiness and a certain triteness. If you haven’t seen – and liked – the film, you’ll quite possibly be totally at sea here. If you do love its brooding vibes, you may cringe at a couple of moments where its icy aloofness is punctured by overly-sincere, ‘X Factor’-style performances of a couple of numbers. 

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King's Cross Theatre , King's Cross Until Sunday January 22 2017

The Red Barn

Recommended

‘The Red Barn’ is billed as a thriller. And it kind of is. Though if you’re hoping for explosions, gun battles or large numbers of aggressively exciting events you may start to freak out a bit…

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National Theatre, Lyttelton , South Bank Tuesday January 17 2017

An Inspector Calls

Recommended

Did Stephen Daldry know something we didn’t? This revival of the director’s landmark 1992 National Theatre production of JB Priestley’s 1945 play ‘An Inspector Calls’ opened a day after the result of the US election…

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Playhouse Theatre , Charing Cross Until Saturday March 25 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Recommended

In the unlikely event you were worried a leap to the stage for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series would result in it becoming aggressively highbrow, self-consciously arty or grindingly bereft of magical high jinks, just chill the hell out, muggle…

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Palace Theatre , Soho Wednesday January 18 2017 - Sunday December 10 2017

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Comments

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felicity b
felicity b

Cinderella in Chiswick House Gardens is great!  Went tonight, it was a breath of fresh air without cheesy jokes, but with ballerina mice dancing, an acrobatic lizard, singing and dancing - Inearly forgot, the magician throughout.  Topped off with a sprinkling of snow at the end. 

Company as called Humdalila Productions I think.  Only on in December. 

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