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

Kenneth Branagh on his big return to the London stage

Actor, director and all-round knight of the realm Kenneth Branagh is back with a five-play season

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The top 10 theatre openings in April

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

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Latest theatre reviews

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

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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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The best London musicals

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

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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

Romeo and Juliet

See 'Game of Thrones's Rob Stark opposite 'Cinderella's Lily James in Kenneth Branagh's new adaptation

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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
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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The Winter's Tale

See national treasure Kenneth Branagh alongside acting legend Dame Judi Dench from just £17.50

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Gypsy

Don't miss Imelda Staunton in this timeless Sondheim revival

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Wicked

Prepare to be spellbound! Tickets from £20

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

Theatre

Who Cares

If hospitals make you feel a bit sick, then it may be worth avoiding the Royal Court’s new show. The theatre’s backstage areas have been transformed, complete with disinfectant smells, signs saying ‘Now wash your hands’, uncomfortable plastic bench seats and retina-melting strip lighting. Even the swing doors say ‘NHS’. ‘Who Cares’ is a stark reminder of how in need of a proper fix our health service is.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

Each His Own Wilderness

Like the novels for which she was best known, the great Doris Lessing’s obscure 1958 play strips the veneer from British society with merciless precision.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Dance

La Fille Mal Gardée

No ballet that opens with a group of dancing chickens – including a rooster that seems to be auditioning for the Ministry of Silly Walks – is taking itself too seriously. And, indeed, the Royal Ballet’s perma-fresh ‘La Fille Mal Gardée’ (‘The Wayward Daughter’) is fit to burst with giddy silliness.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

Lorca: Amor En El Jardin

Stalwart multilingual company Théâtre Sans Frontières has been producing rich, accessible world theatre from its base in the north-east of England for more than 20 years. This tribute to Federico García Lorca in music, poetry and drama is a typically warm and vibrant experience from them, but ironically let down by its dated and tepid source material.

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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