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Matt Smith in Ibsen to Sarah Snook's solo Dorian Gray: the best theatre to see in February in London

From fresh adaptations of beloved classics to thought-provoking original shows, London is heaving with new theatre productions this new year.

But with so much to choose from, picking what to see in the capital can feel like a dramatic epic. So we’ve done the heavy lifting for you with a list of our top picks to watch this February.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

This award-winning musical, which enjoyed a three-year run in the West End, an acclaimed UK and Ireland tour, and a film adaptation, is now returning to London. Described by the Standard as a “big-hearted and joyous crowd-pleaser”, the musical tells the story of 16-year-old Jamie from Sheffield who dreams of becoming a drag queen.

Peacock Theatre, February 8 to March 23; Buy tickets here

Macbeth

There have been a fair few Macbeths recently and David Tennant and Cush Jumbo are currently playing the unhappy couple at the Donmar (well until tomorrow). Next, Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma will transform into the gruesome twosome in a production directed by Simon Godwin, a director with a track record for extraordinary Shakespeare revivals, and adapted by Emily Burns (Frankenstein).

DOCK X LONDON, February 12 to March 30; macbeththeshow.com

Just for One Day

This musical retells the story of Live Aid, the July 13 1985 benefit concerts which were organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the Ethiopian famine. Featuring the music of Bowie, Queen, Dylan, McCartney, Elton John and many more, the play’s book has been written by John O’Farrell, who co-wrote the celebrated musicals Mrs Doubtfire and Something Rotten. It has been being directed by Luke Sheppard, who recently directed Olivier award-winning play &Juliet at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

The Old Vic, February 13 to March 30, But tickets here

Dear Octopus

In this revival of celebrated English novelist Dodie Smith’s 1938 comedy, Lindsay Duncan (The Morning Show, His Dark Materials) plays Dora, a woman who, alongside her husband, is reckoning with the adults her children have become against the backdrop of the looming Second World War.

Lyttelton, February 14 to March 27; nationaltheatre.org.uk

King Lear

Danny Sapani (The Diplomat, Killing Eve) takes the lead in this production from South African director Yaël Farber, who recently directed Macbeth at the Almeida starring Saoirse Ronan, with The Wire star Clarke Peters as The Fool. Blow winds...

Almeida, February 15 to March 30; almeida.co.uk

The Picture of Dorian Grey

Succession’s Sarah Snook plays all 26 roles in this witty update of Oscar Wilde's classic tale.

Royal Theatre Haymarket, February 15 to May 11; trh.co.uk

An Enemy of the People

Another West End coup as Matt Smith stars in visionary German director Thomas Ostermeier’s take on Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 classic about what happens to truth in a society driven by power and money. This will be an Ibsen unlike one you’ve seen before (unless you saw Ostermeier’s original production!)

Duke of York's Theatre, February 20 to April 6; Buy tickets here

Hadestown

This multi-Tony award-winning musical by Anaïs Mitchell is based on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. After running at the National Theatre a few years back it’s finally getting its time in the West End.

Lyric Theatre, February 21 to December 2024; Buy tickets here

The Big Life

Tinuke Craig’s revival of the theatre's Windrush Ska musical has been written by Paul Sirrett and Tameka Empson and is based on Love's Labour's Lost. It is returning to the stage two decades after its Stratford East premiere and West End transfer and it’s a joy to have it back. Theatre Royal Stratford East, February 22 to March 30; Buy tickets here

Shifters

A powerful new romance starring Tosin Cole (Doctor Who) and Heather Agyepong (Noughts & Crosses). This new play by Benedicte Lombe (Lava) is about the enduring power, and fragility, of memory and love, and is directed by the venue's artistic director Lynette Linton.

Bush Theatre, February 23 to March 30; Buy tickets here

The Human Body

A new play by Lucy Kirkwood is always an event. Her latest play is a romantic drama set in Shropshire in 1948 that explores political and private passions, stars Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard) and Jack Davenport (The Talented Mr. Ripley) and has been directed by Michael Longhurst in his final season as the Donmar’s artistic director.

Donmar Warehouse, February 27 to April 13; donmarwarehouse.com

Nachtland

This satire on marriage, legacy and the rise of the new right has been written by German playwright Marius von Mayenburg (Martyr), directed by Patrick Marber (Habeas Corpus, Leopoldstadt), and stars Romola Garai (Emma), Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous) and John Heffernan (The Banishing).

The Young Vic, February 27 to April 20; Buy tickets here

Standing at the Sky’s Edge

This glorious musical, which has already won an Olivier award and enjoyed sold-out runs at the National Theatre and Sheffield Theatres, now transfers to the West End. Set in Sheffield, it follows the lives of three generations in the brutalist Park Hill housing estate over six decades.

Gillian Lynne Theatre, February 28 to August 3; Buy tickets here

Already open

Kim’s Convenience

Ins Choi’s comedy drama about a Korean family running a convenience store started out as a play on the Toronto fringe, became a hit Netflix series, and is now back on the stage. With a brand new cast (Cho is now playing father Appa), the play maintains the feeling of its popular sitcom.

Park Theatre, to February 10; Buy tickets here

Macbeth

David Tennant and Cush Jumbo are playing the power-hungry couple stepped in blood. In a twist, this production uses “binaural sound” with audiences wearing headphones to place them in the minds of the Macbeths.

Donmar Warehouse, to February 10, 2024; donmarwarehouse.com

Leaves of Glass

Set in east London in 2024, Max Harrison’s take on Philip Ridley’s 2003 play unpacks the uneasy relationship between two brothers as they face up to a traumatic event from their childhood. Its initial run last spring was a major success, being described by critics as “unforgettable”, “enthralling” and “heartbreaking”.

Park Theatre, to February 10, Buy tickets here

Cowbois

Cowbois, which is transferring from the Royal Shakespeare Company, has been written and co-directed by Charlie Josephine, the playwright behind I, Joan. Described as a "rollicking queer Western like nothing you've seen before", the play is about a gender revolution in a sleepy Wild West town following the arrival of a handsome bandit.

Royal Court Theatre, to February 10; Buy tickets here

Gwyneth Goes Skiing

This comedy play, which the Standard described as “arch, sarky and OTT”, mercilessly takes shots at both the Goop founder and Dr Terry Sanderson, facetiously reimagining the trial in which he very publicly sued the retired actor. The two parties had collided on a ski slope in 2016.

Pleasance Theatre Trust, to Feb 16; pleasance.co.uk

Northanger Abbey

Who doesn’t love an Austen adaptation? Here, director Tessa Walker (associate director at Hampstead Theatre from 2021 to 2023) and writer Zoe Cooper (Jess and Joe Forever) reimagine Austen’s beloved 1817 book for the stage.

Orange Tree Theatre, to February 24; orangetreetheatre.co.uk

Till the Stars Come Down

Evening Standard Theatre Award winner Beth Steel's new play is about a family falling apart, and is set at a wedding in a pub. It asks the question, what happens when the happiest day of your life goes wrong and opens the door to a frightening future? Already touted as one of the plays of the year.

National Theatre, to March 16; nationaltheatre.org.uk

My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro (Manuel Harlan)
My Neighbour Totoro (Manuel Harlan)

A reimagining of the 1988 anime, My Neighbour Totoro tells the story of two young sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to the country in post-war Japan. Their mother is ill, so they live alone with their doting father who encourages them to play outside and lean into their imaginations, which they do. The Olivier award-winning RSC adaptation, which is returning to the Barbican after a sell-out run last year, is directed by Phelim McDermott and has a set by Tom Pye, costumes by Kimie Nakano and sound by Tony Gayle.

Barbican, to March 23, 2024; Buy tickets here

The Motive and the Cue

This show is a glorious love letter to theatre. Directed by Sam Mendes and written by Jack Thorne, it is about a famed production of Hamlet on Broadway, directed by John Gielgud with Richard Burton in the starring role. It recently won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play for it's run at the National Theatre, so it’s great that many more will have a chance to experience the great performances from Mark Gatiss, Johnny Flynn and Tuppence Middleton in the West End.

The Noel Coward Theatre, to March 23, 2024, Buy tickets here

The Time Traveller’s Wife: The Musical

With original songs from Grammy Award winners Joss Stone and Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, this stage adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s best-selling novel premiered at Chester's Storyhouse theatre last autumn.

The Apollo, to March 30, 2024; Buy tickets here

Plaza Suite

Award-winning actors Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) and Matthew Broderick (The Producers), who have been married since 1997, play three separate couples in this heart-warming revival of Neil Simon's witty take on love and marriage in the first major West End opening of the year.

Savoy Theatre, to March 31; plazasuiteuk.com

Bronco Billy – The Musical

Set in 1979, Bronco Billy tells the story of members of a travelling Wild West show who are trying to make ends meet. When the troupe leader Bronco Billy meets an heiress, things get interesting. A much needed overhaul of Clint Eastwood’s 1980 Western comedy-drama original, this silly and uplifting stage adaptation has been directed by Hunter Bird, has a book by Dennis Hackin, and music and lyrics by Chip Rosenbloom and John Torres.

Charing Cross Theatre, to April 7, Buy tickets here

Othello

In this new take on Shakespeare's tragedy, 16th-century Venice becomes modern-day London. Ola Ince, who directed Romeo and Juliet at the Globe in 2021, makes her debut in the venue's candle-lit Sam Wanamaker space.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, to April 13; Buy tickets here

Cruel Intentions, the ‘90s Musical

Based on the 1999 teen drama with Reece Witherspoon and Selma Blair, itself a take on Dangerous Liaisons, this reimagining uses tunes by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, TLC and more to bring to life the musical about a cruel bet and its aftermath.

The Other Palace, to April 14; Buy tickets here

A Mirror

Sam Holcroft’s ingenious play about censorship and repression of art transfers from the Almeida with most of the cast intact, including Johnny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, The Crown) and Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education).

Trafalgar Theatre, to April 20; Buy tickets here

The Hills of California

Jez Butterworth (who won a Olivier award for writing 2017’s The Ferryman) is back with frequent collaborator Sam Mendes for this new play about family, time and guilt. The Webb sisters gather in their mother’s Blackpool guesthouse during the summer of 1976 as she lies dying upstairs. The Standard called it a “flawed masterpiece on a par with Jerusalem”.

Harold Pinter Theatre, to June 15, Buy tickets here

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

Stranger Things: The First Shadow (Netflix)
Stranger Things: The First Shadow (Netflix)

The blockbuster opening of the year is this prequel to the ridiculously popular Netflix show. Set in the small town of Hawkins in 1959 – “before the world turned upside down” – it finds some of the much-loved characters in their youth, and when a new student arrives, the shadows of the past arrive too.

The Phoenix Theatre, booking to August 25, 2024; Buy tickets here