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Musicals and theatre in London

Theatre reviews, tickets and offers – it’s your one-stop guide to plays and musicals in the West End and the best shows in London.

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‘Jerusalem’ is back! Jez Butterworth’s landmark play is set to return to London in 2021
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‘Jerusalem’ is back! Jez Butterworth’s landmark play is set to return to London in 2021

In the best bit of news that London theatre audiences have had in flipping ages, ‘super-producer’ Sonia Friedman obliquely announced via Instagram that the epochal theatrical smash ‘Jerusalem’ by Jez Butterworth would be back on our stages next year, with Mark Rylance revisiting his role as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron. View this post on Instagram Rooster’s ready! See You Next Year... #Jerusalem #HappyStGeorgesDay A post shared by Sonia Friedman Productions (@sfpofficial) on Apr 23, 2020 at 3:02am PDT ‘Jerusalem’ was first staged back in 2009 at the Royal Court Theatre. The story of a marginalised gang of misfits, boozers and drug-takers facing eviction by their local council, its portrayal of England’s grim rural underbelly chimed with a growing sense of national dissatisfaction and it received glowing reviews before transferring to the West End and playing on Broadway. Rylance’s embodiment of the charismatic but doomed Rooster was singled out as a landmark performance on the London stage. Our own Theatre editor (no less) called Rylance’s performance ‘The best thing I have ever seen in a theatre.’ Read our five-star review from 2011. The announcement is cannily timed. ‘Jerusalem’ is set on St George’s Day, April 23. Its England is broken but spirited, trapped in a kind of perpetual, authoritarian, poverty-induced lockdown (‘The world turns. And it turns. And it moves and you don’t. You're still here.’). At the same time, the news of its return

The best theatre to watch online right now
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The best theatre to watch online right now

The show must go on…line! Here’s how to keep watching

The National Theatre is going to stream a free play every Thursday night
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The National Theatre is going to stream a free play every Thursday night

The epic vaults of NT Live are being opened up for free: ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ kicks things off April 2

The Globe is streaming a Shakespeare play for free every fortnight
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The Globe is streaming a Shakespeare play for free every fortnight

Highbrow at home

The Royal Opera House will stream opera and ballet for free over the next few weeks
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The Royal Opera House will stream opera and ballet for free over the next few weeks

London’s great stages may be closed, but at least high-quality streaming is a thing…

Latest theatre reviews

‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ review

‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ review

Yes, it is a big mistake. Yes, it is a huge mistake…

Time Out says
1 out of 5 stars
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‘The Prince of Egypt’ review

‘The Prince of Egypt’ review

‘The Prince of Egypt’ is the plucky, earnest underdog of ’90s animated movies…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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‘Be More Chill’ review

‘Be More Chill’ review

This Broadway import is a bit of a puzzler…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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‘Leopoldstadt’ review

‘Leopoldstadt’ review

Perhaps it doesn’t have the superhuman dexterity of ‘Arcadia’ or the paradigm-shifting audacity of ‘Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’, but ‘Leopoldstadt’ still sees Tom Stoppard end his career on a high…

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Coming soon

The Seagull

The Seagull

A busy 2020 for the Jamie Lloyd Company kicks off with the West End debut of Emilia Clarke, who’ll be trading in dragon riding and romantic encounters with ghosts for the role of vain young actress Nina in Chekhov’s first great play ‘The Seagull’…

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s civil rights classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ took Broadway by storm…

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Sunday in the Park with George

Sunday in the Park with George

Jake Gyllenhaal is back on the London stage, reprising his lead role in this recent Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant 1984 musical. 

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A Doll’s House

A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen’s proto-feminist masterpiece ‘A Doll’s House’ has appeared in some wild London incarnations lately…

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Frozen
Theatre

Frozen

In the autumn of 2020 extremely venerable Theatre Royal Drury Lane will emerge from over a year of lavish upgrade and restoration works to play host to what is surely set to be the biggest show of the year: Michael Grandage’s musical adaptation of Disney’s ‘Frozen’…

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‘Love, Loss & Chianti’ review

‘Love, Loss & Chianti’ review

Robert Bathurst and Rebecca Johnson perform a mercurial brace of Christopher Reid verse plays

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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‘The Doctor’ review

‘The Doctor’ review

Juliet Stevenson is devastatingly good in Robert Icke’s intense but flawed final play for the Almeida

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ review

‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ review

This staggeringly enjoyable musical about a teen drag queen transfers triumphantly to London

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
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The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

From actual fringe beginnings, Mischief Theatre's ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ has become the most successful comedy in the West End

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

A comic riff on the works of legendary Russian dramatist Chekhov. 

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The best theatre in London

London musicals
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London musicals

All the latest musicals, from the fringe to the West End.

West End theatre shows
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West End theatre shows

London's West End is teeming with plays and musicals, so how do you decide what to see? By using our handy guide

Children's theatre in London
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Children's theatre in London

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

London theatre critics' choice
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London theatre critics' choice

These are the shows that got our critics talking

Discover more theatre in London

London musicals
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London musicals

Our comprehensive guide to all musicals in London's West End and beyond…

Shakespeare plays in London
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Shakespeare plays in London

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

Immersive theatre in London
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Immersive theatre in London

London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions 

London theatre breaks
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London theatre breaks

Hotel and theatre combos that make life a whole lot easier

What's on at

Old Vic

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.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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National 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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Young Vic
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
Royal Court Theatre
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.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Shakespeare's Globe

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
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
5 out of 5 stars