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London Theatre Reviews

Read the latest London theatre reviews on the newest openings across the West End and beyond. Discover more about the latest must-see West End shows, Off-West End productions, and why you need to see shows in London. Scroll through our full theatre reviews listings of London musicals, plays, and live events from our London Theatre critics.

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  • How can you possibly reconceive still further A Christmas Carol, the Dickens title that seems on the verge of taking over London theatre at the moment? One unexpected answer is to hand it over to Dolly Parton, the singer-songwriter country music goddess last represented on the West End nearly 4 years ago with her stage musical, 9 to 5. But whereas that screen-to-stage transcription was a comparatively synthetic affair, Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is an unexpected delight. And...

  • A seismic figure in world history, Nelson Mandela gets the levelling-down treatment in Mandela, the blandly hagiographic new musical at the Young Vic that contains not one iota of surprise. Whereas Hamilton (from which this venture has drawn its hardworking American leading man, Michael Luwoye) has shown numerous ways to bracingly reinvigorate history onstage, Schele Williams’s production follows an entirely predictable path. The result, dogged in almost every respect except its dancing, will be...

    Young Vic (Main House)
  • Extra, extra! Read all about it! Disney musical Newsies, which began life as a notorious film flop starring Christian Bale and was miraculously reborn as a Tony-winning Broadway show, is finally making its UK premiere at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre. Based on the real-life Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, its tale of unionising and campaigning for workers’ rights comes at a particularly apt time, as we see industrial action on multiple fronts. That’s an added element to what is already a...

    Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre
  • Kerry Jackson looks unlikely to do for Walthamstow, east London, what Shirley Valentine did for Liverpool, though both plays foreground women finding their way in middle age and looking to satisfy their libidos. But so offputting is the title character of April De Angelis’s play, and repellent the extent to which those around Kerry are patronised or worse, that you come away baffled as to how this work got so far. There’s not been a more puzzling new play this year, and very few that have been...

    Dorfman Theatre
  • This is not your average Sleeping Beauty. Part avant-garde fairytale, part children’s bedtime nightmare, Hex continually pricks its finger on a thorn to get wilder and weirder with every passing moment. The spin on the classic tale follows the traditional structure of a young princess who is cursed, or in this case “hexed,” to sleep when she pricks her finger on her 16th birthday until a prince comes to kiss her. But Rufus Norris and Katrina Lindsay’s creepy concept pivots the focal point to the...

    Olivier Theatre
  • How do we define those most fundamental questions in life: who we are and who we love? And what happens when our feelings about gender, sexuality and identity come into conflict with rigid social structures? A century ago, Virginia Woolf ploughed headlong into what feels like a shockingly modern debate with Orlando, her forward-thinking 1928 novel. Now, Emma Corrin – who rose to fame as Princess Diana in The Crown – stars in a new stage version of Woolf’s remarkable work. The...

    Garrick Theatre
  • The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse has quietly become the go-to London address for Shakespearean provocation. I’m thinking especially of their splendid production of The Merchant of Venice, which responded to the fluctuations of mood in that text by chopping it mercilessly so as to expose a corresponding mercilessness in the material. In that case, one felt nascent undercurrents to the play’s nastiness laid bare. The director Holly Race Roughan’s new Henry V takes this approach yet further, cutting and...

    Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
  • From political drama This House to musical Tammy Faye, James Graham has demonstrated a genius for chronicling modern history – and for joining the dots to our contemporary concerns. Best of Enemies is no exception, showing how a TV debate during the 1968 American Presidential election contributed to our current catastrophic polarisation. With Zachary Quinto joining the cast for this West End transfer (from the Young Vic), and a different but equally combustible context, Graham’s play is as...

    Noël Coward Theatre
  • Personal experiences, or at the very least the passing-on within a family of reports of that experience, are the guiding force behind Jasmine Naziha Jones’s provocative debut play, which features the writer herself in the play’s defining, years-spanning female role. Jones plays Darlee, the Anglo-Iraqi daughter of a psychically anguished, deeply loving father (Philip Arditti), who is himself viewed across a quarter-century as the evening unfolds. To 8-year-old Darlee, who sees things from the...

    Royal Court
  • Christmas is no longer a day-long celebration — the first episodes of Strictly Come Dancing, the John Lewis adverts, and once upon a time The X Factor, usher in festive goodwill from as early as September. So it’s no surprise then that in November, before the Elf curtain rises, audience members hear a medley of winter songs to get us in “the spirit.” Sadly, this intoxicating spirit doesn't carry forward into the stage action: Elf doesn’t deliver a Christmas snap — it’s like pulling a cracker and...

    Dominion Theatre