London theatre: the best plays and shows on now

Our guide to the best shows in London, from Hamilton (bottom left) to Wicked (bottom right)
Our guide to the best shows in London, from Hamilton (bottom left) to Wicked (bottom right)

From School of Rock to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, this is our regularly updated guide to the best plays and shows in the West End and beyond

Baby Reindeer ★★★★★

Where: Bush Theatre

Address: 7 Uxbridge Rd, Shepherd's Bush, London W12 8LJ

Until: November 9

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer at the Bush Theatre Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

In a nutshell:"A compellingly febrile account by former Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Richard Gadd of being stalked by a woman at a bar he tended. The stalking escalated, leaving police barely able to halt the digital and physical onslaught until a threat to kill was made." Read the full review

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Lungs ★★★★☆

Where: Old Vic

Address: The Cut, Lambeth, London SE1 8NB

Until: November 9

Claire Foy and Matt Smith in Lungs at the Old Vic Credit: Helen Maybanks

In a nutshell: "A regal treat: in this timely and time-hopping two-hander, The Crown co-stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith unite on stage as a down-to-earth couple who contemplate the future of the planet as they mull the pros and cons of bringing a baby into the world – with all the carbon emissions that entails – and experience the agonies and ecstasy of pregnancy (and its aftermath). Foy is blisteringly good, while Smith is his usual debonair self." Read the full review

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Murder in the Cathedral ★★★☆☆

Where: Southwark Cathedral

Address: London Bridge, London SE1 9DA

Dates: November 12 and 13 only (then touring)

Murder in the Cathdral at Southwark Cathedral Credit: Richard Hubert Smith 

In a nutshell:"A chance to see T S Eliot’s high-minded verse drama of 1935 in spiritual situ, ahead of the 850th anniversary of Becket’s assassination. Acoustics are an issue, and the sometimes leaden nature of Eliot’s abstract, sermonising script another – but there are saving graces, not least Jasper Britton’s grim-faced ascetic, exuding an unshowy moral superiority at the hour of Becket’s death. " Read the full review

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Frankenstein ★★★★☆

Where: The Gore Hotel

Address: 190 Queen's Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5EX

Dates: November 15, 21 and 29 only

Adam Perchard in The Book Club Cabaret's Frankenstein Credit: Matthew Parker

In a nutshell: "The debut show from immersive dinner theatre company The Book Club Cabaret is wildly ambitious, and at times a bit ropey, but still very good fun indeed. An intimate experience for just 24 audience members, it reimagines Mary Shelley's classic novel around a table set for Frankenstein's wedding-dinner. Tickets are expensive – starting at £125 – but that includes a six-course meal from a Michelin-starred chef. If you can afford it, it's a flamboyant gothic treat." Read the full review

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The Antipodes ★★★★☆

Where: National Theatre

Address: Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX

Until: November 23

The cast of The Antipodes at the National Theatre Credit: Manuel Harlan

In a nutshell: "The latest slow-burn wonder from American playwright Annie Baker (The Flick), who convenes youngish people (mainly men) in a brainstorming conference room, under the quiet, faux-genial gaze of Conleth Hill’s West Coast guru-like Sandy, to tell stories about themselves and interrogate the idea of storytelling." Read the full review

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Falsettos ★★★☆☆

Where: The Other Palace

Address: 12 Palace St, Westminster, London SW1E 5JA

Until: November 23

Falsettos at the Other Palace Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell:"The 1992 sung-through Broadway musical about a Jewish family, gay love and the Aids crisis finally arrives in London. There are flashes of Sondheimian wit in the lyrics, but the trouble with the sheer heft of songs is that it too quickly gets buried by the oncoming tide." Read the full review

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On Bear Ridge ★★★☆☆

Where: Royal Court

Address: Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS

Until: November 23

Rhys Ifans in On Bear Ridge at the Royal Court Credit: Mark Douet

In a nutshell: "Rhys Ifans is far, very far, from Notting Hill in this beguiling-infuriating drama from Welsh playwright Ed Thomas, set amid a remote depopulated and devastated rural (implicitly Welsh) landscape, and filled with a shiver-making sense of mourning." Read the full review

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Hansard ★★★☆☆

Where: National’s Lyttelton Theatre

Address: Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX

Until: November 25

Lindsay Duncan and Robert Jennings in Hansard Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Actor Simon Woods’s debut play stars Alex Jennings and Lindsay Duncan  as a late-Eighties Tory MP and his acerbic, politically antagonistic wife at home in the Cotswolds. Woods’s promise is unmistakable, the performances are unimpeachable and the denouement is unexpectedly moving, but there’s an artificial quality to too much of their politicised bickering."Read the full review

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God's Dice ★★★☆☆

Where: Soho Theatre

Address: 21 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3NE

Until: November 30

Alan Davies in God's Dice at the Soho Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Alan Davies stars as a put-upon physics professor whose star student is determined to prove the existence of God, in comedian David Baddiel's first play. It's trying too hard to be a Tom Stoppard play, and veers off into unconvincing melodrama in the finale, but rattles along entertainingly enough thanks to sharp performances from a strong supporting cast." Read the full review

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[Blank] ★★★★☆

Where: Donmar Warehouse

Address: 41 Earlham St, Seven Dials, London WC2H 9LX

Until: November 30

[Blank] at the Donmar Warehouse Credit: Helen Maybanks

In a nutshell:"A remarkable composite piece about female offenders and the criminal justice system. Some 22 different scenes are presented by an all-female company, looking – sometimes fleetingly – at cycles of abuse, poverty, domestic entrapment, inherited trauma, feminism. It might sound worthy but it’s never dull and the most surprising section – a self-satisfied middle-class dinner-party – lets provocative rip at presumptions about the impact of the #metoo movement." Read the full review

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A Day in the Death of Joe Egg ★★★★☆

Where: Trafalgar Studios

Address: 14 Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2DY

Until: November 30

Claire Skinner and Toby Stephens in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Credit: Marc Brenner

In a nutshell: "The late Peter Nichols’s loosely autobiographical, taboo-busting play about a couple raising a severely disabled daughter feels more savagely true than ever. Toby Stephens, Claire Skinner and Patricia Hodge star; Simon Evans directs." Read the full review

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Groan Ups ★★★★☆

Where: Vaudeville Theatre

Address: 404 Strand, Covent Garden, London WC2R 0NH

Until: December 1

Charlie Russell as Katie in Groan Ups at the Vaudeville Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell:"It's not a big play, and it's not massively clever, but Mischief Theatre's new comedy has a freshness and verve that many more ostensibly adroit and overtly adult dramas lack. The evening traverses the lives of five schoolmates from early primary past the terrible teens to a grisly reunion, encompassing the gamut of uncomprehending juvenility to rueful maturity. If you're after Ibsen, go elsewhere." Read the full review

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'Master Harold'... and the Boys ★★★★☆

Where: National’s Lyttelton Theatre

Address: Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX

Until: December 17

Hammed Animashaun and Anson Boon in 'Master Harold'... and the Boys  Credit: Helen Murray

In a nutshell:"A beautifully measured staging of South African writer Athol Fugard’s play, which draws on raw first-hand experience. It’s a portrait of a Port Elizabeth tea room circa 1950 where cross-racial amity exists between the proprietors’ teenage son and two black waiting staff – only for that to be exploded over the course of a rainy afternoon. Fugard explores the inhumanity of apartheid in a drama steeped in compassion, with wonderful performances from the cast." Read the full review

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Death of a Salesman ★★★★☆

Where: Piccadilly Theatre

Address: 16 Denman St, Soho, London W1D 7DY

Until: January 4, 2020

Sharon D Clarke and Wendell Pierce in Death of a Salesman Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

In a nutshell:"Marianne Elliott’s long, slow, sucker punch revival of Arthur Miller’s classic has already received a clutch of award nominations; the smart money says it will receive many more come the end of its West End run.Its star turns are plentiful; Wendell Pierce is mesmerising fantasist Willy Loman, and Sharon D Clarke his achingly steadfast wife Linda." 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: January 11, 2020

The Book of Mormon

In a nutshell: "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... Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the fellows behind South Park) and Robert Lopez (the chap behind Avenue Q), have created something that, God have mercy upon my soul, I found very funny." Read the full review

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The Man in the White Suit ★★★☆☆

Where: Wyndham's Theatre

Address: Charing Cross Rd, Covent Garden, London WC2H 0DA

Until: January 11, 2020

Stephen Mangan (centre) in The Man in the White Suit Credit: Nobby Clark

In a nutshell: "There's plenty of theatrical ingenuity in this adaptation of the Ealing comedy about an inventor who creates an indestructible fabric, but not even Stephen Mangan, capably capering in the footsteps of Alec Guinness, can cloak the sense of thin material, overstretched. Yet for those in need of diverting fluff, it should suit well enough." 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: January 25, 2020

John McCrea (centre) in Everybody's Talking About Jamie 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 (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 cross-dresser." Read the full review

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Only Fools and Horses ★★★☆☆

Where: Theatre Royal Haymarket

Address: 18 Suffolk St, London SW1Y 4HT

Booking until: February 8, 2020

Paul Whitehouse in Only Fools and Horses Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell: "Only generous-hearted fools and die-hard fans need apply within for this endearing but theatrically under-achieved stage-musical version of the much-loved BBC sitcom, which features Paul Whitehouse as Grandad." Read the full review

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Come From Away ★★★☆☆

Where: Phoenix Theatre

Address: Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0JP

Until: February 15, 2020

Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell:"The denizens of Gander, Newfoundland, a remote spot off the Atlantic, laid on a warm welcome for thousands of disorientated and distressed air-passengers stranded there after the closure of American airspace on September 11, 2001. Fair play to Canadian married duo Irene Sankoff and David Hein for revisiting (after on-the-ground research) this remarkable week of friendships formed and faith in humanity restored, using life-affirming song and dance." Read the full review

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Mamma Mia! The Party ★★★☆☆

Where: 02 Arena

Address: Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0DX

Booking until: February 16, 2020

Mamma Mia! The Party at the O2 Credit: Helen Maybanks

In a nutshell: "Mamma Mia was a song that became a musical, and then two films. Now, it is a package: Mamma Mia! The Party – a dinner, an immersive theatre show and a disco. With tickets starting at £135,  you could fly to Skopelos, the idyllic Greek village that inspired the whole venture, for less. It may be pricey, but the silliness is irresistible – only the churlish would claim this wasn’t fun." Read the full review

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Hamilton ★★★★★

Where: Victoria Palace Theatre

Address: 126 Victoria Street, SW1E 5EA

Booking until: February 29, 2020

Hamilton at the Victoria Palace theatre Credit: Mathew Murphy

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

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Waitress ★★★★☆

Where: Adelphi Theatre

Address: Strand, London WC2R 0NS

Booking until: March 28, 2020

Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "The unlikely hit musical about a diner waitress stuck in an abusive relationship who dreams of winning a pie contest. This is the first West End musical with an all-female lead creative team. The ballads are meltingly lovely, and the comic songs very funny indeed. It's altogether very moreish." Read the full review

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Witness for the Prosecution ★★★★☆

Where: London County Hall

Address: Belvedere Road, London, SE1 7PB

Booking until: March 29, 2020

Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution 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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Les Misérables ★★★☆☆

Where: Queen's Theatre

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

Booking from: December 18 – April 4, 2020

Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre 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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School of Rock ★★★★★

Where: Gillian Lynne Theatre (formerly New London Theatre)

Address: 166 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PW

Booking until: April 5, 2020

School of Rock at the New London Theatre Credit: Manuel Harlan

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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Wicked ★★★☆☆

Where: Apollo Victoria Theatre

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

Booking until: May 23, 2020

Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

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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9 to 5 ★★★☆☆

Where: Savoy Theatre

Address:  Savoy Ct, London WC2R 0ET

Until: May 23, 2020

9 to 5 at the Savoy Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Based on Dolly Parton’s revenge comedy about three harassed female office-workers who hold their loathsome male boss hostage, humiliating him and transforming their work-place, this is a colourful, feelgood musical – but also flimsy and slight.” Read the full review

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The Lion King ★★★★☆

Where: Lyceum Theatre

Address: 21 Wellington St, London WC2E 7RQ

Booking until: May 30, 2020

The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre Credit: Brinkhoff and Mogenburg

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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Tina – The Tina Turner Musical ★★★★★

Where: Aldwych Theatre

Address: 49 Aldwych London WC2B 4DF

Booking Until: June 27, 2020

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre Credit: Manuel Harlan

In a nutshell: "An Anglo-American triumph. This musical retelling of the life of Tina Turner combines the aesthetic finesse of British director Phyllida Lloyd with the political instincts of Memphis-born, Olivier nominated playwright Katori Hall." 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: August 2, 2020

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre 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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Matilda: The Musical ★★★★★

Where: Cambridge Theatre

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

Booking until: December 20, 2020

Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

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."