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

Rosmersholm ★★★★☆

Where: Duke of York's Theatre

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

Until: July 20

In a nutshell: "Tom Burke (Strike) and Hayley Atwell (Marvel's Agent Carter) give hypnotically controlled and convincing performances in a revelatory production of Ibsen's rarely staged 1891 drama of political fervour and turbulent emotions." Read the full review

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Aladdin ★★★☆☆

Where: Prince Edward Theatre

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

Booking until: July 27

Disney's Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre 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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A Midsummer Night's Dream ★★★★☆

Where: Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Address: Inner Cir, London NW1 4NU

Until: July 27

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "This bracingly clear, modern dress production uses the verdant backdrop of Regent’s Park to catapult the audience into a shape-shifting otherworld where fairies emerge with lunar stealth from the bushes... You are never sure if the eerie cries of distant animals are coming from nearby London zoo or some recess of your befuddled mind." Read the full review

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Noises Off ★★★★☆

Where: Lyric Hammersmith

Address: Lyric Square, King St, Hammersmith, London W6 0QL

Until: August 3

Meera Syal and Jonathan Cullen in Noises Off Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: "Michael Frayn’s inspired meta-farce about escalating chaos, on stage and off, returns to Hammersmith after it established itself there in 1982 as one of the funniest plays in the modern theatre. Jeremy Herrin directs; the cast includes Meera Syal, Lloyd Owen and Daniel Rigby. This revival raises laughs, if not the roof." Read the full review

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Rutherford and Son ★★★★☆

Where: Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre

Address: Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX

Until: August 3

Rutherford and Son at the National Theatre Credit: Johan Persson

In a nutshell: "Githa Sowerby’s 1912 play about a family cracking under the forces of economic pressure, class strife and profound domestic malaise gets a solid, richly absorbing if relentless dour revival from Polly Findlay. As the titular patriarch Roger Allam is all brooding magnificence, a cross between a feudal overlord, a figure out of Dickens and a modern Faust who has sacrificed his humanity to service the capitalist machine." Read the full review

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The Hunt ★★★★★

Where: Almeida Theatre

Address: Almeida St, The Angel, London N1 1TA

Until: August 3

The Hunt at the Almeida Theatre Credit: Marc Brenner

In a nutshell: "Adapted from the Oscar-nominated 2012 film, this powerful tale of a primary schoolteacher accused of paedophilia is a parable for our times, recalling Ibsen and Miller in its close awareness of how herd instinct can take over, trampling and crushing the dissident individual. Tobias Menzies (soon to play Prince Philip in The Crown) stars." Read the full review

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Toast ★★★☆☆

Where: The Other Palace

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

Until: August 3

Toast at The Other Palace Credit: Simon Annand

In a nutshell: "This delightful stage adaptation of Nigel Slater's 2004 memoir covers the cookbook king's early life, his mother's death and the fraught arrival of a stepmother, which engendered his fascination with food. Jonnie Riordan's playful production brings home the child's perspective – Adrian Mole meets Bake Off." Read the full review

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Present Laughter ★★★★★

Where: Old Vic

Address: The Cut, Lambeth, London SE1 8NB

Until: August 10

Kitty Archer and Andrew Scott in Present Laughter at the Old Vic Credit: Alastair Muir

In a nutshell: Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Fleabag) gives a revelatory performance as Garry Essendine, a self-obsessed star actor contending with adoring women, his estranged wife and a crazed young playwright in Noël Coward's comedy. It's a reminder of why Coward is hailed as a genius, and proof Scott is the man of the moment." Read the full review

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Europe ★★★★☆

Where: Donmar Warehouse

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

Until: August 10

Europe at the Donmar Warehouse Credit: Marc Brenner

In a nutshell:  "Twenty-five years after it premiered, in the wake of Communism’s collapse and during the horror of the Bosnian war, David Greig’s play – set in a borderland place near a station at which trains no longer stop (but refugees do) – proves timely once more, in a finely acted revival." Read the full review

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The Starry Messenger ★★★☆☆

Where: Wyndham's Theatre

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

Until: August 10

The Starry Messenger at Wyndham's Theatre Credit: Marc Brenner

In a nutshell: "Matthew Broderick, still thought of as the fresh-faced hero of Eighties teen film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, makes his West End debut in Kenneth Lonergan’s play about the dread onset of mid-life: his character Mark runs dullish introductory lectures about astronomy in a doomed New York planetarium, barely connects with his wife and son and has a mild-mannered affair with a Puerto Rican trainee nurse." Read the full review

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Small Island ★★★★★

Where: National Theatre, Olivier Theatre

Address: Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX

Until: August 10

Small Island at the National Theatre Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

In a nutshell: Adapted by Helen Edmundson from Andrea Levy's novel, with playful yet careful direction from Rufus Norris, this epic tale of wartime upheaval and Windrush-generation migration from Jamaica to London is an extraordinary theatrical achievement. 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: August 17

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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A Midsummer Night's Dream ★★★★★

Where: Bridge Theatre

Address: 3 Potters Fields Park, London SE1 2SG

Until: August 31

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Bridge Theatre Credit: Manuel Harlan

In a nutshell: "The story shall be changed," runs a line in Shakespeare's comedy of spritish mischief and amorous confusion. That's certainly true of Nicholas Hytner's gender-switching promenade production, which sees Oberon (Oliver Chris) not Titania (Gwendoline Christie) on the receiving end of Puck's magic touch, winding up in bed with an ass. There's plenty more where that came from in a bouncy bed of an evening quilted with invention, surprises and aerial thrills. Read the full review

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The Lehman Trilogy ★★★★★

Where: Piccadilly Theatre

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

Until: August 31

Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley in The Lehman Trilogy  Credit: Mark Douet

In a nutshell: "You might think that the last thing audiences would desire is an account of the Lehman Brothers, whose investment bank’s collapse was at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis. But I urge you to see this extraordinary theatrical experience – at once epic and intimate – which works as a primer on the history of capitalism, a reflection on the American dream and a deeply moving portrait of a family effecting and affected by the march of history." 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: September 28

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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Hamilton ★★★★★

Where: Victoria Palace Theatre

Address: 126 Victoria Street, SW1E 5EA

Booking until: September 28

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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Fiddler on the Roof ★★★★★

Where: Playhouse Theatre

Address: Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5DE

Until: September 28

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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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 Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ ★★★★☆

Where: Ambassadors Theatre

Address: West St, London WC2H 9ND

Until: October 12

The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ at the Ambassadors Theatre Credit: Pamela Raith

In a nutshell: "Based on Sue Townsend's much-loved comic novel, this endearing musical is cheering good fun – and will surely induce nostalgia among those who struggled with adolescence in the Eighties." 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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Waitress ★★★★☆

Where: Adelphi Theatre

Address: Strand, London WC2R 0NS

Booking until: December 7

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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The Lion King ★★★★☆

Where: Lyceum Theatre

Address: 21 Wellington St, London WC2E 7RQ

Booking until: December 15

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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School of Rock ★★★★★

Where: Gillian Lynne Theatre (formerly New London Theatre)

Address: 166 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PW

Booking until: January 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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Tina – The Tina Turner Musical ★★★★★

Where: Aldwych Theatre

Address: 49 Aldwych London WC2B 4DF

Booking Until: January 11, 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: January 19, 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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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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Come From Away ★★★☆☆

Where: Phoneix 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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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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9 to 5 ★★★☆☆

Where: Savoy Theatre

Address:  Savoy Ct, London WC2R 0ET

Until: April 4, 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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Les Misérables ★★★☆☆

Where: Queen's Theatre

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

Booking until: 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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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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Matilda: The Musical ★★★★★

Where: Cambridge Theatre

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

Booking until: May 24, 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."