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Top theatre to see in London in May

From a record-breaking fifth theatre for 2:22 - A Ghost Story, to Michael Ball, and Mike Faist in new shows, here’s the top theatre picks in London in May 2023.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Summer is on the horizon, and many of London’s open-air theatres will welcome audiences once more. Look forward to shows under the stars at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. But, if you’re sticking to the West End theatres, then you’re in for a treat with lots of new openings: Mrs. Doubtfire, Idiots Assemble, and Rose to name a few.

May 2023 in London marks the beginning of limited summer shows and plenty of buzzy productions to whet your appetite. We’re seriously spoiled for theatre in London this month. Here are our top picks for what to see in London this May.

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West End shows in May 2023

There’s somewhat of a Charles Dickens renaissance in the West End in May 2023. The Great Expectations parody, Bleak Expectations, will have audiences in fits of laughter. Meanwhile, Eddie Izzard brings a one-person adaptation of the Victorian story to London. Plus, 2:22 - A Ghost Story continues its record-breaking West End run, now moving to its fifth theatre. Here’s all the West End shows opening this month.

Bleak Expectations - 750 - LT

Bleak Expectations

Mark Evans’s Radio 4 comedy now heads to the West End. Follow Pip Bin, an inventor’s son who must avoid disaster to escape Mr. Gently Benevolent, or he’ll be thrown into the trash. The quaint British play combines science fiction, adventure, period dramas, and comedy into a Dickensian mashup for the ages. A host of stars will also take on weekly stints: Nina Wadia, Dermot O’Leary, Sally Phillips, Robert Lindsay, and Sue Perkins star in Bleak Expectations in May.

Criterion Theatre, from 3 May.

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Aspects of Love - 1200 - LT

Aspects of Love

Love changes everything for Michael Ball. 34 years ago, he gave a life-changing performance as Alex in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. This May, he’ll return to play George in the romantic affair. Jamie Bogyo and Laura Pitt-Pulford play Alex and Rose, two young lovers who are caught up in hot-headed entanglements with family members. The soaring symphonic sounds are sure to sweep across the whole of Shaftesbury Avenue.

Lyric Theatre, from 12 May.

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Doubtfire - 750 - LT

Mrs. Doubtfire

Help is on the way, dears, thanks to Euphegenia Doubtfire. Yes, the famous Scottish nanny is back to entertain us all. Based on the film starring Robin Williams, Mrs. Doubtfire follows Daniel Hilliard, an out-of-work actor who takes on the maternal alter-ego in a last-ditch effort to see his children. We’ll say “yoohoo!” to Gabriel Vick as he plays the titular nanny, as the musical makes its long-awaited West End premiere.

Shaftesbury Theatre, from 12 May.

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222 - 750 - LT

2:22 - A Ghost Story

It’s impossible to think of a West End without 2:22 - A Ghost Story. Weeks after Cheryl ends her run in the spooky play at the Lyric Theatre, a new batch of castmates will take on Danny Robins’s supernatural thriller. Sophia Bush, Jaime Winstone, Clifford Samuel, and Ricky Champ will play four friends who try to discover if ghosts linger in their new home.

Apollo Theatre, from 14 May.

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Groundhog Day - 750 - LT

Groundhog Day

Yes, you’re right; this musical took over London before, so this is almost like a West End Groundhog Day. But, the two-time Olivier-winning musical returns with aplomb to the Old Vic. Andy Karl reprises his star turn as Phil Connors, a Pittsburgh weatherman sent to cover a small-town event, only for it to change the way he views the world. Tim Minchin and Matthew Warchus collaborate on the spellbinding musical.

Old Vic, from 20 May.

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Rose - 750 - LT


Maureen Lipman commands attention in a poignant Jewish drama about power and identity in 20th-century Europe. Lipman plays Rose, a woman who remains strong in the face of adversity. For Lipman, Rose is a “mystical, magical, deeply philosophical and wildly funny creation." The Olivier-winning actress stars in Rose for only 28 performances.

Ambassadors Theatre, from 23 May.

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Idiots Assemble - 1200 - LT

Idiots Assemble: The Spitting Image Musical

The multi-award-winning comedy television show, with over 100 puppets, comes to the West End. In the zany musical, King Charles III tasks Tom Cruise to create a “magnificent seven” of celebrity misfits to protect the United Kingdom. Everyone you can think of features: royals, politicians, influencers, and popular personalities. The Spitting Image story also relies on telling the latest news, so you’ll want to book repeat visits to stay in the loop.

Phoenix Theatre, from 24 May.

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Patriots - 750 - LT


Will Keen reprises his Olivier-winning turn as Vladimir Putin in Peter Morgan’s Patriots. The Russian political drama centres on Boris Berezkosvky (Tom Hollander) and his fall from the president’s inner circle to public enemy number one. In a four-star review, our critic said: “There’s also a fascinating thread running through the piece about the dangers of pursuing the infinite – whether limitless fortune or power – which ties into Berezovsky’s origins as a child maths genius. [Rupert Goold directs] meaty ideas help us stick with this epic biographical play.”

Noel Coward Theatre, from 26 May.

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Photo credit: Eddie Izzard (Photo courtesy of Kate Morley PR)

Great Expectations

Eddie Izzard presents her one-woman adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations this summer. She’ll delve into all 19 characters, exploring their mysteries, friendships, and unrequited love. You may know Izzard as an ultra runner. But now, she returns to her first love: theatre.

Garrick Theatre, from 24 May.

Off-West End shows in May 2023

Plenty of exciting shows will open across London’s theatres in May 2023. While The Rocky Horror Show celebrates its milestone 50th anniversary at the Peacock Theatre, there's also star turns all over London: Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges take on Brokeback Mountain at @sohoplace, and Bridgerton's Luke Newton leads The Shape of Things. Discover the major Off-West End shows opening this month.

The Rocky Horror Show - 750 - LT

The Rocky Horror Show

Can you see the light over at the Frankenstein place? That’s a clear sign that The Rocky Horror Show is in London. Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba plays Brad in the cult sci-fi parody, following two college kids who find themselves at Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter’s beck and call. Richard O’Brien’s musical started at the Royal Court and now boasts a worldwide legion of fans. So get ready to jump to the left, step to the right, and time warp at the theatre this summer.

Peacock Theatre, from 3 May.

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OOTI - 1200 - LT

Once on This Island

Dance to the earth and the water at Once on This Island. The inspirational musical follows peasant girl Ti Moune as she falls in love with Daniel Beauxhomme, a wealthy man living on the island's other side. But, against the beating Caribbean sun and with the gods following Ti Moune’s steps, will Ti and Daniel be by each other’s side forever to prove that love is more powerful than death? Gabrielle Brooks plays Ti Moune.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, from 10 May.

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Brokeback Mountain - 1200 - LT

Brokeback Mountain

Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges play Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar in the world premiere of Brokeback Mountain. Based on Annie Proulx’s short story, and the award-winning film, Brokeback Mountain follows two cowboys who form a deep, intimate connection. But, as they leave the Wyoming mountain, their short-lived relationship will impact the rest of their lives. Eddi Reader sings Daniel Gillespie Sells’s original country and western score.

@sohoplace, from 10 May.

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Christina Bianco - 1200 - LT

Christina Bianco: In Divine Company

Ahead of starring in The Wizard of Oz this summer, renowned American impressionist Christina Bianco brings dozens of divas to London. Christina honours their talents as she can — by channelling their voices through uncanny and hilarious impressions. Expect Cher, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Britney, and more.

Menier Chocolate Factory, from 11 May.

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The Comedy of Errors - 1200 - LT

The Comedy of Errors

See double this summer at Shakespeare’s chaotic comedy, where mistaken identities run rife. Sean Holmes directs the Bard’s early play that follows two sets of twins as they find each other after 20 years apart. The only downside — nobody knows who the right person is. The Comedy of Errors is one of 36 plays in the First Folio — the inaugural edition of Shakespeare's plays. 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the First Folio.

Shakespeare’s Globe, from 12 May.

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How to Succeed - 1200 - LT

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Tracie Bennett and Michelle Visage star in a radical reinterpretation of the business musical at Southwark Playhouse this summer. Follow J. Pierrepont Finch as they use a handbook to climb the corporate ladder from a window washer to a high-flying executive. Expect all the office antics: co-workers, caffeine, and watercooler conversations.

Southwark Playhouse Borough, from 12 May.

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The Shape of Things - 1200 - LT

The Shape of Things

How far would you go for love? What would you be willing to change? Bridgerton’s Luke Newton plays Adam in Neil LaBute’s college romance story. As Adam falls in love with Evelyn, Adam begins to change his appearance. But, as he finds a newfound confidence, he loses his friends. The Shape of Things explores what happens when you take on a new identity.

Park Theatre, from 24 May.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 1200 - LT

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child star Jamie Parker plays a reverse-aging man in a stage adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald story. Follow Button as he tries to make every second count, especially when life throws up challenging circumstances. Make every second count with this new musical.

Southwark Playhouse Elephant, from 22 May.

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