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

Theatre

Stephen Mangan on ‘Rules for Living’ and onstage mishaps

Stephen Mangan is back as a neurotic ex-cricketer in chaotic new comedy-drama ‘Rules for Living’.

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Theatre

Latest theatre reviews

Find out what our theatre team made of London's new openings

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Benedict Cumberbatch stars in ‘Letters Live’

Catch 'Sherlock' star Benedict Cumberbatch next week as he reads out poignant love letters at Freemasons' Hall.

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Theatre

The top 10 theatre openings in March

Our theatre team's top picks for theatre shows to see in London this March

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Cheap and last minute theatre tickets in London

London's best theatre discounts and how to get in to sold out shows

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Book theatre tickets

The best theatre in London

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London theatre critics' choice

These are the shows that got our critics talking

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Shakespeare plays in London

Here's where to watch the best plays by the Bard in London

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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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Children's theatre in London

Recommendations for the very little ones, the nearly big ones, and the grown ups

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Theatre tickets and offers

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

See this truly novel adaptation for as little as £20

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Mamma Mia!

How can you resist tickets from as little as £26?

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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War Horse

Book now to see this stunning production we awarded five stars

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Made In Dagenham

Save up to 72% on tickets to the 'best British musical since "Matilda"'

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Latest theatre reviews

Theatre

Princess Ida

What a bizarre piece this is! Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera ‘Princess Ida’ opened in 1847 and was based on a Tennyson poem, ‘The Princess: A Medley’. It’s a satire on feminism and Darwinism to boot, and hasn’t been performed in over 20 years. Director Phil Willmott has evened out the tricky libretto and restructured the work but it still feels like an old-fashioned, flat-footed work.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

The Three Lions

A posh boy, a politician and a plonker, or rather, Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham, are the titular lions in this satirical farce about what went on behind closed doors during the UK’s 2010 bid for the world cup. William Gaminara’s comedy imagines their conversations as they worked out tactics on how to lobby Fifa delegates in a hotel room in Zurich over 48 hours.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Kids

The Chair

It may be set on the docks of Tiger Bay in Cardiff, but  Lewis Gibson’s fantastical, spooky play for ages seven and up takes you to many more unexpected places. Bald-headed barber Owain Sawyers, cutthroat razor in hand, transports us to India, America, Egypt and back again as he blends an intoxicating mix of old-world yarns.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Music

Die Entführung

Pop-Up Opera has built its reputation on a roster of slick and inventive small-scale productions. This one, however, is unlikely to be added to that list. Mozart’s romantic comedy ‘The Escape from the Seraglio’ is mostly nonsense in the first place, but this update from Turkish harem to a ‘beauty boot camp’ run along the lines of ‘Big Brother’ is simply unfathomable.

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

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Children's theatre in London

Our list should help inform any decision on the next family day out

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Immersive theatre in London

London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions 

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Open-air theatre in London

Read our round-up of open-air theatre events for the summer ahead

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Latest theatre interviews

Get the lowdown from the biggest stars of the London stage

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What's on at

Theatre

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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Theatre

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

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

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.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

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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Theatre

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
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

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
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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