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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

Benighted

Benighted. It’s not a special honour bestowed by the Queen. It actually means to be in a state of abject ignorance and/or enshrouded in darkness…

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Old Red Lion , Angel Until Saturday January 7 2017

She Loves Me

As Christmas shopping stops being ‘something you’ll do online’ and starts becoming a real and present horror, the Menier has revived a 1963 musical that puts a bowing, scraping and singing cast of store clerks at your service…

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Menier Chocolate Factory , Southwark Until Saturday March 4 2017

Once in a Lifetime

Usually the Young Vic is the absolute last theatre on the planet you'd look for a piece of fluffy escapism. But in a pleasingly against type piece of seasonal programming it's waved 'auf wiedersehen' to its usual diet of left field European-style theatre…

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Young Vic , Southwark Until Saturday January 14 2017

Pinocchio

It was the introduction of spice-obsessed criminal mastermind-cum-master of ceremonies ‘El Tabasco’ that the audience at the King’s Head Theatre realised that this ‘Pinocchio’ would depart ever so slightly from the plot of Carlo Collodi’s late nineteenth-century fairy tale…

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King's Head Theatre , Barnsbury Until Saturday January 7 2017

Licensed to Ill

Recommended

This unofficial Beastie Boys musical is possibly the most stupid piece of theatre that you will ever, ever see. THANK CHRIST…

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Southwark Playhouse , Elephant and Castle Until Saturday December 24 2016

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 Until Saturday February 4 2017

Sleeping Beauty

Recommended

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

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

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

Buried Child

After 11 months of my favourite celebrities dying and my dreams of a more enlightened future for humanity being ritually squashed, I wasn’t entirely looking forward to month 12 kicking off with this aggressively bleak Broadway transfer starring Hollywood’s Ed Harris…

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Trafalgar Studios , Whitehall Until Saturday February 18 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

If charity starts at home, its flow is in short supply in this revival of British writer Somerset Maugham’s final play, written in 1933…

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Orange Tree Theatre , Richmond Until Saturday January 7 2017

Sleeping Beauty

Recommended

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

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. Originally its subject matter seemed to chime perfectly with the ConDem coalition…

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Garrick Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday February 25 2017

Licensed to Ill

Recommended

This unofficial Beastie Boys musical is possibly the most stupid piece of theatre that you will ever, ever see. THANK CHRIST…

Read more
Southwark Playhouse , Elephant and Castle Until Saturday December 24 2016

Sleeping Beauty

Recommended

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

Read more
Hackney Empire , Hackney Until Sunday January 8 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

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

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 Until Sunday December 10 2017

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