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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

Peter Pan

There's a kind of melancholy embedded in JM Barrie's 'Peter Pan'. It's a story that's perched, anxiously, on a window ledge, between domestic comfort and rip-roaring adventure…

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National Theatre, Olivier , South Bank Wednesday December 7 2016 - Saturday February 4 2017

Sleeping Beauty

If you needed further evidence that London can rise above the general shitshow that is 2016, get yourself down to Hackney Empire, pronto…

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Hackney Empire , Hackney Until Sunday January 8 2017

Beauty on the Piste

It’s another cackle-inducing adult panto from legendary gay theatre Above the Stag Theatre, this time tacking that ultimate tale of Stockholm Syndrome – ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Except that *PLOT TWIST* Belle is a very promiscuous twink called Beau…

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Above the Stag Theatre , South Lambeth Until Saturday January 14 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

NoFit State Circus: Bianco

In the program notes to this returning, revamped collaboration between NoFit State circus and Italian director Firenza Guidi, there’s lot of deep and meaningful talk about ‘a journey through time’ and ‘the story of the fragility of our lost selves’…

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Southbank Centre , South Bank Until Sunday January 22 2017

Sheppey

Orange Tree boss Paul Miller makes a speciality of reviving lost classics. His latest target is Somerset Maugham's last play, a comedy about a hairdresser whose life is thrown into turmoil after he wins the lottery. Everyone in his family wants a piece of his newfound wealth, but Sheppey has plans of his own.

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Orange Tree Theatre , Richmond Until Saturday January 7 2017

Aladdin

'A whole new world', goes the Disney movie song that definitely isn't in the Lyric Hammersmith's annual panto, 'a new fantastic point of view'. It's a helpful description of panto season, when the Lyric shrugs off its attempts to keep the swearier side of avant-garde theatre alive in favour of glittery backdrops and heaps of sweaty sentiment…

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Lyric Hammersmith , Hammersmith Until Saturday January 7 2017

Nice Fish

So you’re regularly fêted as the greatest stage actor on the planet and you’ve finally added an Oscar to your groaning shelfful of Tonys and Oliviers…

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Harold Pinter Theatre , Soho Until Saturday February 11 2017

After October

Eighty years after it first ran, Rodney Ackland’s play-about-a-play has been given its first revival at the Finborough…

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Finborough Theatre , West Brompton Until Thursday December 22 2016

Aladdin

'A whole new world', goes the Disney movie song that definitely isn't in the Lyric Hammersmith's annual panto, 'a new fantastic point of view'. It's a helpful description of panto season, when the Lyric shrugs off its attempts to keep the swearier side of avant-garde theatre alive in favour of glittery backdrops and heaps of sweaty sentiment…

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Lyric Hammersmith , Hammersmith Until Saturday January 7 2017

Baddies: The Musical

Whether it's Maleficent or Katie Hopkins, the villains we love to hate are so much more memorable than the whiter-than-white good guys that eventually defeat them…

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Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Tuesday December 20 2016

The Children

Recommended

After storming the West End with her widescreen political thriller ‘Chimerica’, Lucy Kirkwood has made quite the about turn with ‘The Children’, an intimate drama about three old friends teetering on the edge of extinction…

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Royal Court Theatre , Belgravia Until Saturday January 14 2017

Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales: Unwrapped

They’re back! But this time the world’s premier Jewish, Narcoleptic drag queen – and winner of season 5 of Ru Paul’s drag race (who uses the pronoun they) – isn’t playing Kitty Witless as they did in the Vaudevillians, they’re Jinkx…

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Soho Theatre , Soho Until Saturday December 10 2016

Nice Fish

So you’re regularly fêted as the greatest stage actor on the planet and you’ve finally added an Oscar to your groaning shelfful of Tonys and Oliviers. Steven Spielberg has cast you in four films in a row…

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Harold Pinter Theatre , Soho Until Saturday February 11 2017

Sink the Pink: Down the Rabbit Hole

A party is happening in the basement of behemoth department store Selfridges; it’s housed a theatre since the summer, which hosted a production of 'Much Ado About Nothing', but now some altogether more fabulous residents have moved in for panto season…

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Selfridges , Oxford Street Wednesday December 7 2016 - Friday December 9 2016

The Snowman

It may seem perverse to put the words 'snowman' and 'genius' into the same sentence, but the inspired range of delights in this dance adaptation of Raymond Briggs's book deserves no less an accolade…

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Peacock Theatre , Holborn Until Sunday January 1 2017

The Tempest

Phyllida Lloyd’s prison-set, all-female-cast, Donmar Warehouse-produced take on ‘The Tempest’ bloody well should be good. It’s technically had two whole months of previews at the King’s Cross Theatre, as Lloyd wanted the press to see it on the same day as revivals of her earlier productions of ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Henry IV’ (which didn’t start their new runs until weeks later)…

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King's Cross Theatre , King's Cross Wednesday December 7 2016 - Thursday December 15 2016

The Children

Recommended

After storming the West End with her widescreen political thriller ‘Chimerica’, Lucy Kirkwood has made quite the about turn with ‘The Children’, an intimate drama about three old friends teetering on the edge of extinction…

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Royal Court Theatre , Belgravia Until Saturday January 14 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 Thursday December 15 2016 - 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

Removal Men

Recommended

‘It’s a fucked up hierarchy, and at the top of it is a group of traumatised boys’…

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The Yard Theatre , Hackney Wick Until Saturday December 10 2016

No Man's Land

Recommended

At this stage in their august careers, Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart could pretty much star in any old bollocks and get praised to high heaven…

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Wyndham's Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday December 17 2016

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 December 7 2016 - Sunday December 10 2017

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