Top theatre to see in London in May

From the Brian Cox-led Long Day's Journey Into Night, to Bluets, starring Ben Whishaw, here’s the top theatre picks in London in May 2024.

Olivia Rook
Olivia Rook

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 Fawlty Towers, Heathers, and Long Day's Journey Into Night to name a few.

May 2024 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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Cabaret Cara Delevigne

Cabaret, Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

Set during the rise of Nazism at Berlin’s seedy cabaret spot The Kit Kat Club, Rebecca Frecknall’s production of Kander and Ebb’s musical has seen some incredible stars take to the stage, including Eddie Redmayne, Jessie Buckley, Jake Shears, and Rebecca Lucy Taylor. Now is the turn of model and actor Cara Delevingne and Olivier Award-winner Luke Treadaway to become cabaret performer Sally Bowles and the Emcee, the Club’s ghoulish Master of Ceremonies. It’s a perfectly marvellous bit of casting!

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Bluets, Royal Court

Paddington and James Bond actor Ben Whishaw is joined by House of the Dragon’s Emma D’Arcy and Kayla Meikle (debbie tucker green’s ear for eye), in this stage adaptation of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, which is a story about depression and desire, pleasure and pain – and an obsession with the colour blue. Intrigued? You should be, as this is the second play in David Byrne’s thrilling inaugural season as artistic director at London’s Royal Court.

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Hemi Yeroham, Victoria Fox, Adam Jackson-Fox, and Sybil fawlty towers LT 1200

Fawlty Towers, Apollo Theatre

Check into everyone’s favourite run-down seaside hotel in John Cleese’s new stage production of the much-loved sitcom Fawlty Towers, which is based on three episodes from the original show: “The Hotel Inspectors”, “Communication Problems”, and “The Germans”. Caroline Jay Ranger (of Only Fools and Horses fame) directs Adam Jackson-Smith in the lead role of Basil Fawlty, who is joined by Anna-Jane Casey as wife Sybil. Hemi Yeroham and Victoria Fox also star as Spanish waiter Manuel and chambermaid Polly.

Book Fawlty Towers tickets on London Theatre.

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Heathers, @sohoplace

If you missed Heathers during its two previous national tours then now is your chance to see it for a limited six-week run at @sohoplace. Based on the 1989 film of the same name, which stars Winona Ryder, the musical follows high school “nobody” Veronica Sawyer, who dreams of becoming popular. But when she’s taken in by a group at school, can she stay true to herself? If you like a romcom with an edge, this is one for you.

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Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson long days journey 1200 LT credit Johan Persson.

Long Day's Journey Into Night, Wyndham's Theatre

Eugene O’Neill’s magnum opus is brought to the West End in a pared-back production by the award-winning Jeremy Herrin, who directs an all-star cast including Succession’s Brian Cox, Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects), Laurie Kynaston (Fool Me Once), Daryl McCormack (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande), and Louisa Harland (Derry Girls). O’Neill’s play offers a window into one day in the life of the dysfunctional Tyrone family, as they battle with personal struggles, addiction, and past regrets.

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Opening Night, Gielgud Theatre

Ivo Van Hove’s daring new musical, which has music and lyrics by Rufus Wainwright, is based on the 1977 film by John Cassavetes and stars Sheridan Smith as an alcoholic actress disturbed by visions of a dead young woman in the lead up to the opening night of her new show. In its final weeks at the Gielgud Theatre, Opening Night has divided the critics, so don’t miss your chance to form your own opinion on the musical everyone is talking about.

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Nicola Turner, Nancy Allsop, Lara McDonnell, Sophia Ally - The Hills of California LT 1200 credit Mark Douet

The Hills of California, Harold Pinter Theatre

Powerhouse writing and directing team Jez Butterworth and Sam Mendes are reunited once again in The Hills of California, which is set in 1970s Blackpool and follows the Webb sisters as they gather for the final hours of their mother’s life. Jumping between their childhood and the present day, the play shows how dreams can be made and broken in a matter of moments, and stars Laura Donnelly, Leanne Best, Ophelia Lovibond, and Helena Wilson as the four sisters.

Book The Hills of California tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: Luke Treadaway and Cara Delevingne. (Photo by Jay Brooks and Emilio Madrid)

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