London theatre for 2019 – shows not to miss

Our pick of the best London plays and musicals coming up and booking now
Tom Hiddleston, Betrayal
@ Charlie Gray
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Want to know which London theatre shows, plays and musicals you should be booking for in 2019? Let us make it easy for you with our list of the 19 shows we think will be best in 2019, in the West End and beyond.

It will be updated throughout the year.

SEE ALSO: the best new shows in London this month

1
When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, Cate Blanchett, Stephen Dillane
© Gillian Hyland
Theatre, Drama

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
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Weirdly, 2019’s most sought-after ticket might just be for an experimental theatre show in the NT’s smallest space, the Dorfman theatre. It’s written and directed by avant-theatre royalty Martin Crimp and Katie Mitchell. But the presence of NT newcomer/movie megastar Cate Blanchett might just have something to do with the fact that tickets are being allocated only by ballot.

2
Leave to Remain
© Johan Persson
Theatre, Musicals

Leave to Remain

icon-location-pin Lyric Hammersmith, Hammersmith
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The big show in Sean Holmes’s final Lyric Hammersmith season is this mouthwatering looking play-with-songs, with tunes by Kele Okereke from Bloc Party and book by TV writer Matt Jones, plus direction from choreographer Robby Graham. Tyrone Huntley stars.

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3
All About Eve, Gillian Anderson, Lily James
© Perou
Theatre, Drama

All About Eve

icon-location-pin Noël Coward Theatre, Covent Garden
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Super-director Ivo van Hove’s stage version of Joseph L Mankiewicz’s seminal 1950 film ‘All About Eve’ has Gillian Anderson and Lily James step into the Bette Davis and Anne Baxter roles as bitterly feuding actresses in this version of the classic Hollywood satire. Monica Dolan, Sheila Reid and Rhashan Stone co-star, and there’s original musical from PJ Harvey.

4
Berberian Sound Studio, Donmar Warehouse
© Damien Frost
Theatre, Experimental

Berberian Sound Studio

icon-location-pin Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden
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This is a pretty fascinating proposition: designer Tom Scutt makes his directorial debut helming a stage adaptation of ‘Berberian Sound Studio’, a cult 2012 horror film about a British sound engineer who starts to lose his mind when he signs up for a job that turns out to be on an increasingly disturbing Italian giallo thriller. The excellent Tom Brooke will star.

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5
The Price, 2018
© Nobby Clark
Theatre, Drama

The Price

icon-location-pin Wyndham's Theatre, Covent Garden
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Arthur Miller looks to be having a bit of a ‘moment’ in 2019, thanks to major revivals at the Old Vic, Young Vic and this, the fiftieth anniversary revival of his drama ‘The Price’ about two New York brothers who reunite after 16 years of estrangement. Starring heavyweights David Suchet and Brendan Coyle, Jonathan Church’s production enjoyed fine reviews when it ran at Theatre Royal Bath in the summer of 2018.

6
The American Clock, Rachel Chavkin
Theatre, Drama

The American Clock

icon-location-pin Old Vic, Southwark
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New York director Rachel Chavkin has been at the helm of some of the boldest, weirdest theatre hits of the past few years: like Broadway musical ‘Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812’, ‘Hadestown’, and Royal Court road-trip story ‘Roosevelvis’. Now she’s taking on Arthur Miller’s ‘The American Clock’, which is set in 1929 just as the Wall Street stock market crashes. 

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7
Richard II, Shakespeare's Globe, Adjoa Andoh
Theatre, Shakespeare

Richard II

icon-location-pin Shakespeare's Globe, South Bank
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Adjoa Andoh and Lynette Linton are directing a cast of women of colour in a take on ‘Richard II’ at the Globe that focuses on ideas of Britishness. Following the anniversary of the Windrush arrivals, and running on the eve of Brexit, this production will tell the story of a king whose status is slipping away in a troubled nation. 

8
Shipwreck, Almeida, 2019
Theatre, Drama

Shipwreck

icon-location-pin Almeida Theatre, Barnsbury
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Experimental playwright Anne Washburn is known for deliciously creepy, fiercely original plays like ‘Mr Burns’ and ‘The Twilight Zone’. Now, Almeida boss Rupert Goold is staging the world premiere of her newest work, ‘Shipwreck’. And from the looks of it, it’s centring on the 45th President of the United States, aka Donald Trump. But it’s unlikely to be a straightforward political satire, especially since it’s set in a farmhouse in the snowy mountains, where strange forces are at work... 

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9
Come from Away
© Michael Murphy
Theatre, Musicals

Come from Away

icon-location-pin Phoenix Theatre, Covent Garden
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The big sleeper hit Broadway musical of the last few years, ‘Come from Away’ tells the unlikely true story of a sleepy Newfoundland town that took in strangers from around the world when their planes were grounded at the local airport in the wake of 9/11. Huge in Canada and the States, you can expect to be very charmed.

10
Only Fools and Horses the Musical
© Trevor Leighton
Theatre, Musicals

Only Fools and Horses the Musical

icon-location-pin Haymarket Theatre Royal, Soho
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Paul Whitehouse of ‘The Fast Show’ heads up this loving musical tribute to the enduringly popular British sitcom ‘Only Fools and Horses’. Set in Peckham (where else?) in 1989, it’s a new adventure for the wheeler-dealing Trotter family, co-written by Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan, son of the show’s late creator John, who had started working on a musical version when he passed away in 2011. Tom Bennett stars as Del Boy, Ryan Hutton as Rodney and Whitehouse himself as Grandad.

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11
Alys, Always, Bridge Theatre
Theatre, Drama

Alys, Always

icon-location-pin Bridge Theatre, Bermondsey
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For what is, astonishingly, Nicholas Hytner’s first time ever directing a play written by a woman, Lucinda Coxon adapts Harriet Lane’s psychological thriller about Frances, an apparently unremarkable woman who rescues privileged Alys from a car crash and becomes obsessed with penetrating her monied world. ‘Downton Abbey’ star Joanne Froggatt plays Frances, in a cast also featuring Robert Glenister.

12
Waitress, Adelphi Theatre
© Joan Marcus
Theatre, Musicals

Waitress

icon-location-pin Adelphi Theatre, Charing Cross
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Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles’s smash Broadway musical is an adaptation of a hit 2017 indie flick about Jenna, a small-town waitress trapped in an abusive marriage but dreaming of escape – which she seeks to effect by winning the big bucks in a pie-making contest. The show has received cautiously warm reviews Stateside but has, more to the point, won over audiences, who’ve been lapping it up since 2016. Directed by Diane Paulus, the show features an all-female creative team headed by Bareilles herself, who is best known for her 2007 hit single ‘Love Song’. Casting is TBA, though it’s notable that the producers seem happy to use publicity images of original US star Jessie Mueller.  

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13
Tom Hiddleston, Betrayal
@ Charlie Gray
Theatre, Drama

Betrayal

icon-location-pin Harold Pinter Theatre, Soho
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What a way to wrap up Jamie Lloyd’s epic Pinter at the Pinter season. Megastar Tom Hiddleston takes the lead in Pinter’s 1978 masterpiece ‘Betrayal’, a drama about a trio of self-deceiving lovers that devastatingly unfolds in reverse chronological order. 

14
Richard III, Headlong, Tom Mothersdale
Theatre, Shakespeare

Richard III

icon-location-pin Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill
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If you’ve yet to venture out to Alexandra Palace’s newly restored theatre, this seems like a pretty good excuse: visionary touring theatre company Headlong will drop by in March with a new production of Shakespeare’s dark history play. Tom Mothersdale will star as the eponymous tyrant in a production directed by Headlong associate artist John Haidar.

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15
Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Barbican 2019, Cillian Murphy
Theatre, Drama

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

icon-location-pin Barbican Centre, Barbican
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Writer-director Enda Walsh and actor Cillian Murphy join forces yet again to present this new stage adaptation of Max Porter’s devastating novel. In a London flat, two boys try to cope with the pain of their mother’s death while their father tries desperately to move on. They are visited by Crow, who will not leave until they are healed. 

16
All My Sons, Old Vic
Theatre, Drama

All My Sons

icon-location-pin Old Vic, Southwark
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The Old Vic is following up ‘An American Clock’ with another vintage Arthur Miller play, ‘All My Sons’: Miller’s tragedy about a shattered family in post-war America, and the patriarch who betrayed them. It’s staged by Headlong artistic director Jeremy Herrin who’s been at the helm of a slew of hits including West End political drama ‘Labour of Love’ and harrowing National Theatre show ‘People, Places and Things’. Sally Field, Bill Pullman, Jenna Coleman and Colin Morgan star.

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17
Death of a Salesman, Young Vic 2019
Theatre, Drama

Death of a Salesman

icon-location-pin Young Vic, Southwark
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You won’t be able to move for Arthur Miller plays on The Cut next year: the Old Vic is playing host to mouthwatering revivals of ‘The American Clock’ and ‘All My Sons’, and the Young Vic’s putting on this classic from the great Marianne Elliott. She makes her debut at the Young Vic directing a phenomenal all-black (thus far) cast – including ‘The Wire’ star Wendell Pierce and Brit greats Sharon D Clarke and Arinzé Kene – in Miller’s iconic tragedy about deluded travelling salesman Willy Loman. 

18
White Pearl, Royal Court
© Niall McDiarmid
Theatre, Drama

White Pearl

icon-location-pin Royal Court Theatre, Belgravia
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Australian-Thai playwright Anchuli Felicia King is an unknown quantity in the UK, but it’s hard not to get excited when the Royal Court swings behind an up-and-coming writer so wholeheartedly. Her international debut, ‘White Pearl’, centres on racism within different East Asian ethnic groups, and is a big, boisterous satire set in a Singaporean skin-whitening start-up. It’s directed by King’s similarly unknown peer Nana Dakin.

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19
Tree, Young Vic, Idris Elba
Theatre, Drama

Tree

icon-location-pin Young Vic, Southwark
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Idris Elba is the big draw in this Young Vic-Manchester International Festival co-production, even if he doesn’t actually star in ‘Tree’. Co-created by the ‘Luther’ star and Young Vic boss Kwame Kwei-Armah, the show is ‘a thrilling journey in search of the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa’ that’s soundtracked by Elba’s 2014 album ‘Mi Mandela’. 

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