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Musicals and theatre in London

Your guide to plays and musicals in the West End and the best of London shows. Theatre reviews, tickets and offers

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Jesse Eisenberg: ‘I'm never, never, never happy'

The 'Social Network' star on his London theatre debut, plus what he REALLY thinks of Facebook

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The best theatre in London

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London musicals

It had fantastic reviews when it opened – but is it still kicking after five cast changes?

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West End theatre shows

Here's the full scoop on the best shows in London's West End

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London theatre critics' choice

These are the shows that got our critics talking

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Top half-term theatre shows

Not sure what to do with the kids this half-term? Never fear, as we round up all the best children's theatre in London during the next break (Monday May 30 - Friday Jun 3 2016). From puppet shows to child-friendly London musicals, we've got the kids' entertainment sorted.

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Theatre tickets and offers

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Enter a world of pure imagination from £17.50

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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The Book of Mormon

Buy tickets for the smash hit show from the creators of 'South Park' 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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People, Places and Things

Don't mis Denise Gough's stunning performance in this powerful new play about addiction and reality from just £18.45

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

See this truly novel adaptation we awarded four stars from just £18

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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'The Phantom Of The Opera'

See this infamous show from just £26.44

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Latest theatre reviews

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Romeo and Juliet

If leads Lily James and Richard Madden turn in solid, meat'n'two veg performances in director Kenneth Branagh's take on Shakespeare's ‘Romeo and Juliet’, then big name supporting actor Derek Jacobi offers something more akin to a 20 course tasting menu at the Fat Duck…

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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A View from Islington North

Now, this’ll light a fire in your belly. There’s something refreshingly old-school about this – five short political satires, including a premiere by David Hare, brought together by touring theatre company Out of Joint into a punchy evening of unabashedly left-wing railing against a Tory-run Britain…

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

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…

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

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

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Discover more theatre in London

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Shakespeare plays in London

Here's where to watch the best of the Bard in London

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Immersive theatre in London

London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions 

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Theatre interviews

Peek behind-the-scenes with London's theatrical talents

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Nightlife

Circus in London

Although you'll not see any lions being 'tamed' in massive stripy tents, London's modern circus scene is far more jaw-dropping than the suspicious magicians and caged animals of old. Have your breath taken away with your pick from our list of London circus shows.

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Coming soon in 2016

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Aladdin

Disney's lavish musical adaptation of its enormo-smash 1992 film has already been a walloping smash in New York, and this West End transfer has been on the cards for yonks.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

If you thought the adventures of JK Rowling’s boy wizard had ended with ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ then rejoice!

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Groundhog Day

A new musical based on the 1993 hit film proves that the Old Vic is anything but stuck in the past…

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The Entertainer

John Osborne's great play about a music hall performer 'The Entertainer' reignited Laurence Olivier's career when he performed it in 1957…

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No Man's Land

It's been on the cards in London ever since they did it in New York and now here we go: on-screen nemeses and real-life BFFs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen bring their hailed production of Harold Pinter's 'No Man's Land' – directed by Sean Mathias – to Wyndham's following a short UK tour…

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What's on at

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Old Vic

The combination of double-Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and top producer David Liddiment at this 200-year-old Waterloo theatre continues to be a commercial success – though Spacey's controversial artistic leadership has frequently come under critical fire. Still, the Old Vic's a great place to catch high-profile actors – Ian McKellen, Robert Lindsay and Neve Campbell have all trod its boards. David Mamet's 'Speed-the-Plow' thrilled audiences in 2008 and was followed by a winning revival of Alan Ayckbourn's 'The Norman Conquests' – a show that saw the venue spectacularly remodeled into a theatre-in-the-round. Summer 2009 heralded the first of Sam Mendes's The Bridge Projects, an Anglo-American collaboration between Mendes, the Old Vic and Joseph V Melillo's Brooklyn Academy of Music, that enticed Ethan Hawke to the British stage for its Shakespeare/Chekhov double bill.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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National Theatre

The concrete-clad, 1960s modernist grandmother of them all: no theatrical tour of London is complete without a visit to the National, whose three auditoriums – Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottesloe – offer a rolling repertory programme, often with a choice of several productions in a week. The National Theatre may have once had a fiercely inaccessible reputation, but the arrival of maverick artistic director Nicholas Hytner in 2003 rocked theatreland as he set about changing the venue's staid ethos with daring productions such as 'Jerry Springer the Opera' and an ambitious adaptation of Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'. The change of tack proved a success, attracting audiences of mixed race, age and class – and Hytner's budget £10 Travelex-sponsored tickets still help pull in the crowds in the summer season. The home stable for Michael Morpurgo's 'War Horse', which opened here in 2007 and went on to break West End records, the National is now developing a reputation for family-friendly blockbusters, cue its current production of Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'. Meanwhile the National Theatre Live initiative has extended the theatre's reach by broadcasting high-publicity productions such as Danny Boyle's role-swapping smash-hit 'Frankenstein' and the comedy 'One Man, Two Guvnors', which introduced James Corden to the stage, live to Picturehouse Cinemas. A recent run of the post-modern musical 'London Road' proved it hasn't lost its edge. You

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Young Vic

The Young Vic finally returned to its refurbished home in The Cut in 2007 with acclaimed community show ‘Tobias & the Angel’. As you would expect, it’s got more verve and youthful nerve than the grown-up Old Vic down the road and attracts a slightly younger more multicultural – yet still discerning – crowd. Director David Lan’s eclectic programming of rediscovered European classics has proved popular with the critics, while a stage adaptation of DBC Pierre’s ‘Vernon God Little’ was standing ovation material. Three venue spaces – the main house and studio spaces Maria and Clare – allow for flexible scheduling and more intimate works such as Tarell Alvin McCraney’s moving ‘The Brothers Size’. The Young Vic also provides its Waterloo home with a popular split-level bar and restaurant complete with an open-air balcony terrace.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Royal Court Theatre

A hard-hitting theatre in well-heeled Sloane Square, the Royal Court has always placed emphasis on new British talent – from John Osborne’s ‘Look Back in Anger’ in 1956, to the discovery of numerous playwrights over the past decade: Sarah Kane, Joe Penhall and Conor McPherson among them. Artistic director Dominic Cooke has always injected plenty of politics into the programmes and successfully decreased the age of his audiences too. This is where you’ll find rude, lyrical new work set on the London streets by first-time playwrights like Bola Agbaje and the more established but no less cool Mark Ravenhill. Split between two floors – with the mid-capacity Jerwood Theatre Downstairs and the studio-style Jerwood Theatre Upstairs – the Royal Court also houses an excellent bookshop geared towards theatregoers and a café bar with a weighty menu serving up more than your average bag of peanuts.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Shakespeare's Globe

The original Globe Theatre, where many of William Shakespeare's plays were first staged and which he co-owned, burned to the ground in 1613 during a performance of 'Henry VIII'. Nearly 400 years later, it was rebuilt not far from its original site, using construction methods and materials as close to the originals as possible. Shakespeare’s Globe has been an unbridled success, underpinned in part by its educational programme (you can drop in for talks and readings) and its commitment to faithfully recreating an original ‘Shakespeare in performance’ experience from April to October. The open-air, free-standing Yard is the best bet for those after complete authenticity – the absence of seating may test your stamina but tickets are excellent value – while the Middle and Upper Galleries afford a (marginally more comfortable) atmosphere of their own. The only thing that tends to mar a performance is the theatre’s somewhat noisy, flight-path location. In the UnderGlobe beneath the theatre is a fine exhibition on the history of the reconstruction, Bankside and its original theatres, and Shakespeare's London. Guided tours of the Shakespeare's Globe theatre run throughout the year. If the Bard is not your bag, look out for various seasonal festivals that take place on the riverside area outside the Globe Theatre. For more information about visiting the Globe Theatre, head to www.timeout.com/outdoor-theatre-faqs

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Lyric Hammersmith

A beacon of culture in Hammersmith, the Lyric's distinctive look is largely down to a fusion of the building's 1970s structure, the theatre's Victorian heritage and a modern interior.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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