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Nine theatre shows not to miss in London this autumn

The days may grow cooler, but the theatre just gets hotter with these nine amazing autumn shows

By Andrzej Lukowski
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Retreat into the warmth of a theatre this autumn with our pick of the nine best shows to see. From newbies in London's West End to some surefire critics' choice hits, the sun may have gone, but the stage shines on, darling.

1. No Man's Land

Theatre Drama
Harold Pinter’s darkly absurdist classic about two old drunks, trapped in a room.

Why go? It has Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart – BFFs and two of the greatest actors ever – starring together in what may be their last major stage roles (you never know). You really don’t want to miss this.
Imogen, Maddy Hill
Imogen, Maddy Hill
© Owen Harvey

2. Imogen

Theatre Shakespeare
‘Cymbeline’ by Shakespeare, but renamed to reflect the fact that the biggest role in the play isn’t Cymbeline but his daughter Imogen (played by ex-EastEnder Maddy Hill).

Why go? New Globe boss Emma Rice avowed that she would radically shake up Shakespeare, and has already done so with her out-there ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. But this pointedly feminist ‘reimagination’ promises to push things waaaaay outside the Globe’s old trad-Shakespeare comfort zone.
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Anne-Marie Duff, Oil, Almeida Theatre
Anne-Marie Duff, Oil, Almeida Theatre
© Miles Aldridge

3. OIL

Theatre Drama
Ella Hickson’s years-in-the-making epic about man’s relationship with the black stuff.

Why go? The Almeida is London’s best theatre. The team – led by director Carrie Cracknell and actor Anne-Marie Duff – is second to none (and intriguingly female considering the history of the oil business). And the signs are that this could be long-rising star Hickson’s breakout moment.

4. Amadeus

Theatre Drama
A major revival of the late Peter Shaffer’s masterpiece about the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri.

Why go? The NT’s entire autumn season looks awesome. But this could be a defining moment for the brilliant actor Lucian Msamati, who will play Salieri. It’s both the shot at the big time he deserves and a milestone in colour-blind casting in this country.
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5. Lazarus

Theatre Musicals
David Bowie’s final project, a musical based on his songs and the novel ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’, which he famously starred in the film of. 

Why go? Because you love David Bowie and are on board for a weird, arty, difficult musical that often steers clear of the hits. In Ivo van Hove’s production, stranded alien Thomas Jerome Newton will be played by Michael C Hall.
School of Rock - The Musical
School of Rock - The Musical
© Craig Sugden

6. School of Rock - The Musical

Theatre Musicals
A musical adaptation of the Jack Black film about a slobbish metal fan who becomes an inspiring music teacher. By, er, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes.

Why go? If it hadn’t already opened on Broadway to much enthusiasm, we’d assume Webber and Fellowes were trolling us. But no, apparently it rocks. Who knew?
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7. The Children

Theatre Drama
Two retired nuclear scientists, isolated from a crumbling world, are disturbed by the arrival of a friend, in the latest work from Lucy Kirkwood.

Why go? We don’t know much about it at all, but Kirkwood’s last play, ‘Chimerica’, was a work of bona fide genius. It’ll be extremely exciting to see what she does next.

8. Buried Child

Theatre Drama
Ed Harris stars in a revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer-winning breakthrough play about an impoverished American farming family with dark secrets.

Why go? I mean, did you think you were ever going to see Ed Harris on the West End stage? The play’s a classic, and this production got super reviews when it played on Broadway at the start of the year.
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9. Nice Fish

Theatre Comedy
The great Mark Rylance takes a break from being a film star to bring this oddball autobiographical comedy, which he wrote with poet Louis Jenkins, to London after a run on Broadway.

Why go? It’s Mark bloody Rylance, on a stage. Nobody should pass that up. Plus there are free tickets if you dress as a fish (seriously). 

It's never too early...

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