London theatre: the best plays and shows on now

Telegraph Reporters
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

Henry IV, Part I / Henry IV, Part II / Henry V ★★★☆☆

Where: Shakespeare's Globe

Address: 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT

Until: October 11

Sarah Amankwah as Prince Hal / Henry V at Shakespeare's Globe Credit: Tristram Kenton

In a nutshell: "The best thing in this gender-blind production of Shakespeare's history plays is Sarah Amankwah as in the title role – an actress who can speak volumes with the dart of an eye. She is let down by an uneven ensemble, particularly an unfunny Falstaff, but the Globe's artistic director Michelle Terry provides better support, playing the loose-cannon rebel Hotspur in Henry IV, Part I with terrific, mad-frothing, boyish brio." Read the full review

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The King of Hell's Palace ★★★★☆

Where: Hampstead Theatre

Address: Eton Ave, London NW3 3EU

Until: October 12

The King of Hell's Palace at the Hampstead Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell:"Roxana Silbert inaugurates her reign as the artistic director of Hampstead Theatre with a hot potato. According to recent newspaper reports, the Chinese authorities don’t want The King of Hell’s Palace to go ahead. The reason? American-born Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig has dramatised the story of a doctor who tried to expose an emerging Chinese health crisis in the Nineties caused by failures in screening supplies of donated blood." Read the full review

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The Merry Wives of Windsor ★★★☆☆

Where: Shakespeare's Globe

Address: 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT

Until: October 12

The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare's Globe Credit: Helen Murray

In a nutshell:"Going against the current trend at the Globe, Elle While’s bawdy, 1930s tinted revival of Shakespeare’s comedy of libidinal male foibles and retaliatory female mischief plays it (sensibly) gender-straight. The result is a mixed bag bulging all the same with entertaining odds and sods, the largest being Pearce Quigley’s ad-libbing Falstaff, who cuts a balefully lugubrious presence amid a provincial world of cocktail dances and pheasant shoots." Read the full review

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Faith, Hope and Charity ★★★★☆

Where:  National's Dorfman Theatre

Address: Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX

Until: October 12

Cecilia Noble in Faith, Hope and Charity Credit: Sarah Lee

In a nutshell: "A compelling, real-time, slow-burn look by writer-director Alexander Zeldin at life on the poverty-line in austerity-era England. It considers the effects of poverty, marginalisation and our broken social-care system through a chorus of human stories that take care to show, rather than tell; to persuade, rather than preach." Read the full review

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Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. ★★★☆☆

Where: Royal Court

Address: Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS

Until: October 12

Toby Jones, Deborah Findlay and Sule Rimi Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell: "At 81, elder stateswoman of British theatre Caryl Churchill delivers four flights of theatrical fancy, which can stand alone but broach similar themes of latent violence and menace, and our compunction to tell stories, devour myths, cling to belief – the fine and awkward line between entertaining narration and pernicious action. The ensemble cast includes Deborah Findlay and Toby Jones." Read the full review

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Two Ladies ★★★★☆

Where: Bridge Theatre

Address: 3 Potters Fields Park, London SE1 2SG

Until: October 26

Zoë Wanamaker in Two Ladies at the Bridge Theatre Credit: Helen Maybanks

In a nutshell: "Irish playwright Nancy Harris's smart new play imagines an encounter between the First Ladies of the US and France at a Cote d'Azur summit of world leaders. Zoë Wanamaker and Zrinka Cvitesic are equally superb as the caustic Brigitte Macron-like Helen and the deceptively aloof Melania Trump-like Sophia." Read the full review

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The Son ★★★★★

Where: Duke of York's Theatre

Address: St Martin's Ln, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4BG

Until: November 2

Laurie Kynaston in The Son Credit: Marc Brenner

In a nutshell:"First seen at the Kiln theatre, Florian Zeller's harrowing portrait of a depressed teenage boy unravelling following his parents' divorce – with his nearest and dearest struggling to cope with his depression – features strong performances, impeccable direction from Michael Longhurst, and a fine translation from Christopher Hampton." Read the full review

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Big: The Musical ★★★★☆

Where: Dominion Theatre

Address: 268-269 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7AQ

Until: November 2

Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh in Big: The Musical Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Jay McGuiness fills Tom Hanks's sizeable shoes in a musical based on the hit film about a 12-year-old who wants to be 'big', gets magically turned by an arcade machine into a grown-up and then has to contend with the adult world. It's goofy, moral-boosting fun." Read the full review

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Blood Wedding  ★★★☆☆

Where: Young Vic

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

Until: November 2

Blood Wedding at the Young Vic Credit: Marc Brenner

In a nutshell: "Written just a few years before Spain would erupt into civil war – and before the playwright Lorca himself would be dragged out of Granada by a firing squad loyal to General Franco, and shot dead – Blood Wedding is a gut-punch of a play, in which the cyclical violence of human society is pitted against the desires of the individual." Read the full review

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Fiddler on the Roof ★★★★★

Where: Playhouse Theatre

Address: Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5DE

Until: November 2

Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell: "Trevor Nunn downsizes this evergreen 1964 musical of Jewish life in a Russian shtetl, encompassing the audience in a mock-village of wooden huts, hanging lanterns and wandering musicians. Andy Nyman acquits himself with aplomb in the lead role of dairy-man Tevye, complaining to his God about his passion-pursuing daughters. Given the recent resurgence of anti-Semitism, this evocation of a vanished world feels as relevant – and poignant – as ever." 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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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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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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'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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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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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 £165,  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

Hamilton tickets and information

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

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe performs during the 1st birthday gala performance of "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical" Credit: Getty Images

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."

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