London theatre: the best plays and shows on now

Telegraph Reporters
The Telegraph
Our guide to the best shows in the West End and beyond...
Our guide to the best shows in the West End and beyond...

From Hamilton to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, this is our regularly updated guide to the best plays and musicals in the West End and beyond

Humble Boy ★★★★☆

Where: Orange Tree Thetare

Address: 1 Clarence St, Richmond TW9 2SA

Booking Until: April 14

<span>Humble Boy at the Orange Tree Theatre</span> <span>Credit: Manuel Harlan </span>
Humble Boy at the Orange Tree Theatre Credit: Manuel Harlan

In a nutshell: "A splendid revival of Charlotte Jones's 2001 play, a sort of Cotswolds Hamlet in which a Cambridge astrophysicist mourning the death of his beekeeping father must endure his monstrous mother’s affections for a local flash Harry. Both very clever and very funny, Jones's crisp, rhythmical dialogue mixes reflections on grief with discussions of super-string theory. It's a modern classic." Read the full review

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The Grinning Man ★★★★☆

Where: Trafalgar Studios (Studio One)

Address: 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY

Booking until: April 14

<span>The Grinning Man at Trafalgar Studios</span> <span>Credit: Helen Maybanks </span>
The Grinning Man at Trafalgar Studios Credit: Helen Maybanks

In a nutshell: "This pungent, grimacing musical fairy tale, based on a Victor Hugo novel, is directed by Tom Morris, still known most for his global smash hit War Horse. It's a dark-harted Christmas treat: the story of Grinpayne, an orphan who as a boy was scarred forever when an unknown assailant carved a smile onto his face." Read the full review

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The Birthday Party ★★★★★

Where: Harold Pinter Theatre

Address: 6 Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DN

Booking until: April 14

<span>Toby Jones in The Birthday Party</span> <span>Credit: Johan Persson </span>
Toby Jones in The Birthday Party Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell: "Harold Pinter’s comedy of psychological receives a superlative 60th anniversary revival from Ian Rickson. Not a line is wasted by a cast that includes Zoë Wanamaker as the fragile housekeeper, Stephen Mangan as one of two sinister interlopers and Toby Jones as a desperately lost man-child lodger." Read the full review

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Julius Caesar ★★★★☆

Where: Bridge Theatre

Address:  3 Potters Fields Park, SE1 2SG

Until: April 15

<span>Ben Whishaw in Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre</span> <span>Credit: Manuel Harlan </span>
Ben Whishaw in Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre Credit: Manuel Harlan

In a nutshell: "Director Nicholas Hytner brings us a Julius Caesar that plugs into the turbulent age of Trump. And what a mighty body of actors Hytner has assembled for the leads: David Morrissey as Mark Antony, Ben Whishaw as Brutus, Michelle Fairley (Lady Stark in Game of Thrones, among other credits) – as Cassius, and RSC veteran David Calder as the assumed tyrant who must be felled." Read the full review

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The Book of Mormon ★★★★★

Where: Prince of Wales Theatre

Address: Coventry St, London, W1D 6AS

Booking until: April 28

The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon

"The songs may not be memorable, but it is exuberant, and, like the colourful extravaganza that the Africans put on at the end (stringing together all of the lies the naughty Mormon has told them) it works in a way that is rather mystifying." Read the full review

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Amadeus ★★★★★

Where: Olivier Theatre, National Theatre

Address: Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Until: April 24

<span>Credit: Marc Brenner </span>
Credit: Marc Brenner

In a nutshell:"Shaffer’s riveting 1979 psychodrama, probably known to most from the 1984 film, takes the form of a deathbed confessional from Salieri, the foreign-born court composer to Austria’s snooty, Imperial court tormented by the way he engineered Mozart’s fatal descent into penury and madness at the age of 35." Read the full review

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Frozen ★★★☆☆

Where: Theatre Royal Haymarket

Address: 18 Suffolk St, SW1Y 4HT

Until: May 5

<span>Suranne Jones in Frozen at the Theatre Royal Haymarket</span> <span>Credit: Johan Persson </span>
Suranne Jones in Frozen at the Theatre Royal Haymarket Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell:"Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones takes top billing in the West End for the first time, starring as Nancy, the mother of a girl who’s abducted, abused and killed by a paedophile in Bryony Lavery’s award-winning 1998 play. Jones doesn't disappoint, but the night – provocatively – belongs to Jason Watkins, who gives one of the finest performances of his career as the serial child-killer." Read the full review

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The Best Man ★★★★☆

Where: Playhouse Theatre

Address: Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5DE

Until: May 12

<span>The Best Man at the Playhouse Theatre</span> <span>Credit: Alastair Muir </span>
The Best Man at the Playhouse Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell:"Watching Gore Vidal's 1960 political satire, it's a surprise is just how much pertains to America today – and, indirectly, ourselves: just what does it take to get in the running for the top job? It's set in that two candidates' hotel suites that become nests of intrigue as the crucial convention approaches." Read the full review

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The Inheritance ★★★★★

Where: Young Vic

Address: 66 The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1 8LZ

Until: May 19

<span>Vanessa Redgrave and Samuel H Levine in The Inheritance</span> <span>Credit: Leon Puplett </span>
Vanessa Redgrave and Samuel H Levine in The Inheritance Credit: Leon Puplett

In a nutshell: "This emotionally shattering six-hour epic (in two parts) may be the most important American play of the century so far. A young American man is attempting to find a route into ‘his’ story about his friends. Enter the figure – stiff, suited, Edwardian English – of EM Forster like a creative-writing fairy-godfather, who spurs the youth into an act of appropriation. What begins as a larky, camply arch ‘work-shop’ (like a Greenwich Village answer to Hector’s lessons in The History Boys) draws you into a richly imagined world that has the innate thrill of a page-turner." Read the full review

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The Ferryman ★★★★★

Where: Gielgud Theatre

Address: Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, London W1D 6AR

Until: May 19

<span>Credit: Johan Persson </span>
Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell: "British playwriting’s king-pin Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem) serves up the full Irish in The Ferryman, taking us to Armagh and the harvest of late August 1981 – time of ongoing Troubles, height of the Hunger Strikes – with director Sam Mendes bringing it to table with élan and a crack ensemble... The suspenseful plot hinges on the grisly discovery of a 10-years-absent brother, opening the door to sinister overtures from menacing members of the IRA... miss this and you've missed a marvel." Read the full review

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The Way of the World ★★★☆☆

Where:Donmar Warehouse

Address: 41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX

Until: May 26

<span>Fisayo Akinade, Christian Patterson and Simon Manyonda in The Way of the World</span> <span>Credit: Johan Persson </span>
Fisayo Akinade, Christian Patterson and Simon Manyonda in The Way of the World Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell: "A serviceable revival of William Congreve's knotty 1700 Restoration comedy, with a tremendous supporting performance from Fisayo Akinade as the bumpkin-esque Sir Wilfull Witwoud. It's incredibly hard to follow, but that's partly a reflection of the world as Congreve saw it: beset by calculation and subterfuge." Read the full review

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Brief Encounter ★★★★☆

Where: Empire Cinema, Haymarket 

Address: 63-65 Haymarket, St. James's, SW1Y 4RL

Booking until: September 2

<span>Brief Encounter at the Empire Haymarket Cinema</span> <span>Credit: Steve Tanner </span>
Brief Encounter at the Empire Haymarket Cinema Credit: Steve Tanner

In a nutshell: "Emma Rice's wonderfully romantic musical rendering of Noël Coward and David Lean's classic film - in which two strangers fall in fleeting love – returns to the West End. Staged in a Twenties' cinema, this production combines the magic of the silver screen with the camaraderie of theatre." Read the full review

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Witness for the Prosecution ★★★★☆

Where: London County Hall

Address: Belvedere Road, London, SE1 7PB

Booking until: September 16

<span>Credit: Alastair Muir </span>
Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Lucy Bailey directs this entertaining adaptation of Agatha Christie's Twenties courtroom murder mystery, in which a man is accused of killing a widow in order to inherit her wealth. Staged in chambers at London's magnificent County Hall, this production puts the audience right at the heart of the action." Read the full review

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Dreamgirls ★★★★☆

Where: The Savoy Theatre

Address: Savoy Court, Strand, London WC2R 0ET

Booking until: September 22

<span>Ibinabo Jack, Liisi LaFontaine and Amber Riley in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre</span> <span>Credit: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg </span>
Ibinabo Jack, Liisi LaFontaine and Amber Riley in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre Credit: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

In a nutshell: "What does this show fundamentally offer? Tremendous gusto of soul and gaiety of spirit. Given the sort of jittery year we’ve had, who’d not want a piece of that?" Read the full review

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Aladdin ★★★☆☆

Where: Prince Edward Theatre

Address: Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4HS

Booking until: September 29

<span>Credit: Deen van Meer </span>
Credit: Deen van Meer

In a nutshell: "There are some good gags and serviceable work from other leads, Jade Ewen’s plucky Jasmine and Don Gallagher’s cackling villain Jafar among them. The flying carpet hovers without a hitch. But you don’t need to be a patriotic nut to miss old Widow Twankey, Wishy-Washy and the time-honoured British slant on this tale." Read the full review

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Young Frankenstein ★★★★☆

Where: Garrick Theatre

Address: 2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH

Booking until: September 29

<span>Credit: Alastair Muir </span>
Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "At the age of 91, Mel Brooks is still making people howl with laughter. Howl, you might say, like werewolves. Audiences are rising to their feet in thanks for the mirth he has given the world over the years, and for what he has now done with Young Frankenstein, his celebrated spoof Thirties horror film. So what has he done? Well, stuck songs in it, obviously. This is an entertaining musical rehash of a celluloid comedy masterpiece." Read the full review

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The Lion King ★★★★☆

Where: Lyceum Theatre

Address: 21 Wellington St, London WC2E 7RQ

Booking until: September 30

The Lion King
The Lion King

In a nutshell: "In theory it should all feel contrived - you've got Elton John and Tim Rice's anthemic pop efforts sharing the same terrain as earthy, soul-stirring African arrangements. The human presence creating the animal magic is openly signalled in the costumes and puppetry. And yet, for all that calculation, the over-riding impression is one of freshness – of potentially incongruous elements flowing together quite naturally." Read the full review

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie ★★★★☆

Where: Apollo Theatre

Address: 31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES

Booking until: October 6

<span>Credit: Getty </span>
Credit: Getty

In a nutshell:"Is Everybody’s Talking About Jamie the new Billy Elliot for our times? It tells the story of Jamie New (John McCrea: sharp, sassy, and delightfully out there and vulnerable), a gay teenager at a northern comprehensive, who, platinum-blond cropped hair shining like a beacon, decides to make his name as a transvestite." Read the full review

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Les Misérables ★★★☆☆

Where: Queen's Theatre

Address: 51 Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London W1D 6BA

Booking until: October 20

<span>Credit: Deen van Meer </span>
Credit: Deen van Meer

In a nutshell: "The long evening commands respect for its size, scale of ambition and great Gallic reservoirs of rousing bombast. Yet aside from a handful of numbers, mostly concentrated early on, genuine pathos gets lost in the hurly-burly of undistinguished, if dramatically efficient, bits of filler music." Read the full review

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42nd Street ★★★★☆

Where: Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Address: Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JF

Booking Until: November 29

<span>Credit: Alastair Muir </span>
Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "42nd Street is the tyrannosaurus rex of tap-dancing. What its creators did back in the day (1980) was take a neglected Warner Bros 1933 classic, strip it down its essentials with only residual traces of the originating novel, and stuff in as many pleasure-giving songs from the gilded back-catalogue of Harry Warren and Al Dubin as possible, including that Depression-era paean to newfound wealth, We’re In the Money...  This is an American classic right royally revived. I loved it in the way one can’t help loving achingly beautiful things." Read the full review

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Hamilton ★★★★★

Where: Victoria Palace Theatre

Address: 126 Victoria Street, SW1E 5EA

Booking until: December 15

<span>Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre</span>
Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre

In a nutshell:"Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical phenomenon – the most talked-about musical of the century – retells the life and times of Alexander Hamilton (c1755 – 1804), first Secretary of the US Treasury, using a predominantly non-white cast and a welter of rap music." Read the full review

Hamilton tickets and information

Motown the Musical ★★★★☆

Where: Shaftsbury Theatre

Address: 210 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8DP

Booking until:January 5, 2019

<span>Motown the Musical</span> <span>Credit: Alastair Muir </span>
Motown the Musical Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Never mind the sometimes clunky script – superb performances and a gilded back-catalogue make this musical an urgent rallying cry for us all to rediscover our Motown mojo." Read the full review

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ★★★★★

Where: Palace Theatre

Address: Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 5AY

Booking until: January 13, 2019

<span>Harry Potter and the Cursed Child</span> <span>Credit: Manuel Harlan </span>
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Credit: Manuel Harlan

In a nutshell: "Tremors of excitement at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – the first Potter play, and the eighth story in the publishing phenomenon that made J K Rowling’s name and fortune – are being felt across the world... The big news is that this is just what was needed, will raise the benchmark for family entertainment for years to come and may even usher in a whole cycle of Potter-world stories." Read the full review

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School of Rock ★★★★★

Where: New London Theatre

Address: 166 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PW

Booking until: January 13, 2019

<span>Credit: Alastair Muir </span>
Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes have made the grade in turning this much-loved 2003 Hollywood comedy into a musical. The stage version cleaves closely to the celluloid storyline, following the misadventures of Dewey Finn, a rock-loving slob who wangles an illicit gig as a supply teacher (faking his best friend’s identity) at a posh prep school. Once there, he courts the risk of exposure while giving his over-regimented charges a liberating education in rock... It's the most enjoyable few hours money can buy."  Read the full review

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Matilda: The Musical ★★★★★

Where: Cambridge Theatre

Address: 32-34 Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9HU

Booking until: February 10, 2019


In a nutshell: "The RSC’s hilarious, moving and magical production of Matilda has now arrived in the West End, where I suspect it will delight audiences for years to come... It is the best new British musical since Billy Elliot. Dennis Kelly has adapted Roald Dahl's famous story for the stage, while Aussie comedian Tim Minchin has come up with a smashing score that combines take-home melodies with delicious lyrical wit."

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Wicked ★★★☆☆

Where: Apollo Victoria Theatre

Address: 17 Wilton Rd, Pimlico, London SW1V 1LG

Booking until: May 25, 2019

<span>Credit: Tristram Kenton/Bloomberg News </span>
Credit: Tristram Kenton/Bloomberg News

In a nutshell: "No one could accuse Wicked of being a great musical - indeed at times it's a bit of a mess - but it proves far more enjoyable than I had dared to hope, and deserves a wider audience than adolescent schoolgirls." Read the full review

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