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London Theatre Guide: The Best Plays in London


Culture /

London Theatre Guide: The Best Plays in London

The show must go on, however... these are showstoppers.

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In our regularly updated London theatre guide, we bring you the best plays to see in town, to inject a little culture into your week. These are the best plays in London, from something old (classics), something new (debuts), something borrowed (adaptations) to something blue (stormy tragedies).

     

All About Eve

Noël Coward Theatre

All About Eve at the Noël Coward Theatre

Starring Lily James and Gillian Anderson, All About Eve has been adapted for the stage from being an Oscar-winning film. With themes such as jealousy and ambition, All About Eve looks at show business and obsession which is at the heart of it. 2 February – 11 May, allabouteveplay.com

Come From Away

Phoenix Theatre

Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre

Joyous and moving, Come From Away is the Tony-award-winning musical that follows the extraordinary true story of 7,000 passengers stranded in the air during the 9/11 attacks, and the little town of Newfoundland that welcomed them. Booking until 14 September, comefromawaylondon.co.uk

Barber Shop Chronicles

Roundhouse

Barber Shop Chronicles

After critically-acclaimed runs at London’s National Theatre and tours in Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada, The Barber Shop Chronicles play is back in town for a 6-week run at Camden’s Roundhouse. Described as ‘heart-warming, hilarious and insightful’, the play transports the audience to barber shops from Peckham to Johannesburg, Lagos to Kampala, following the African men who meet there to discuss the ways of the world, as it has been for generations. 18 July – 24 August, roundhouse.org.uk

Equus

Theatre Royal Stratford East

Equus Theatre Royal Stratford East

Haunting, engrossing, rich, raw – 5-star rated Equus is inspired by a true story and follows the intriguing and psychotic Alan Strang and the relationships between devotion, myth, sensuality, spirituality in our consumer-driven world. 15 February – 23 March, stratfordeast.com 

Shipwreck

Almeida Theatre

Shipwreck

Experimental playwright Anne Washburn’s new play, Shipwreck, centres in President Trump – though it doesn’t look like it’ll be a direct political satire. Directed by Rupert Goold, it’s described as a “nightmarish comedy” involving a group of guests gathering for a dinner with Trump in a rural American farmhouse. 11 February-30 March almeida.co.uk

Alys, Always

Bridge Theatre

Alys, Always at The Bridge Theatre

Taking our new obsession with all things suspenseful to the stage, Alys, Always is a stage adaptation of Harriet Lane’s thriller novel of the same name. Joanne Froggatt, most recognisable from her lead role in British thriller series Liar as well as Downton Abbey, plays Frances, a quiet but capable books-desk journalist who, after witnessing a car-crash, attempts to ingratiate herself with the deceased’s famous family. A social-climber story gone awry, the play is a taut, psychological thriller that will leave viewers stunned. 25 February – 30 March bridgetheatre.co.uk

Betrayal

The Pinter Theatre

Betrayal Cast Triptych. Images by Charlie Gray

In a spectacular end to a spectacular run, the theatre’s production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal rounds off the Jamie Lloyd Company’s Pinter at the Pinter season with aplomb. The appearance of Golden Globe and Olivier award winner Tom Hiddleston, of The Night Manager fame, has led these tickets to sell out fast with few still available, and those that are being pretty pricey – but well worth it. Betrayal charts a seven-year extramarital affair in reverse chronological order, with Hiddleston acting alongside Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox in this darkly comic and extraordinarily emotional play that will assuredly be the perfect finale to an incredible season of Pinter. 5 March – 1 June pinteratthepinter.com

Richard III

Alexandra Palace Theatre

Alexandra Palace

John Haidar directs Tom Mothersdale as Shakespeare’s most notorious and complex villain, Richard III. This inventive new staging is a co-production between Headlong, Alexandra Palace and Bristol Old Vic, with Royal & Derngate Northampton and Oxford Playhouse. After decades of civil war, the nation hangs in the balance. Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to change the course of history. Richard was not born to be a king, but he’s set his sights on the crown. So begins his campaign of deceit, manipulation and violence – and he’s killing it. Yet, behind his ambition lies a murderous desire to be loved. 13-31 March at Alexandra Palace Theatre theatre.alexandrapalace.com

The Son

Kiln Theatre

The Son, Photo by Marc Brenner

The Son is the final in a loose conceptual trilogy of Florian Zeller’s plays at Kiln, following Olivier Award-winning productions of Zeller’s The Father and The Mother. The chilly family thriller tracks the lives of a divorced couple and their teenage son Nicolas whose devastating depression threatens to upend the family’s core. Brilliant use of set design and thrilling performances from a talented cast, including Sherlock‘s Amanda Abbington, make The Son a must-see production. The play’s grappling with the guilt and blame associated with mental illness is especially poignant in today’s society, where anxiety and depression amongst teenagers is rampant. 20 February – 6 April kilntheatre.com

Berberian Sound Studio

Donmar Warehouse

Berberian Sound Studio

Italy, 1976.  Gilderoy is a long way from home. His work as a sounddesigner for Dorking-based nature documentaries has not gone unnoticed. He has swapped the foley table of his garden shed for the glamour of the BerberianSoundStudio. Here, at the height of giallohorror, cabbages become corpses, your own voice can be over-dubbed and silence speaks louder than screams. Peter Strickland’s acclaimed horror film is adapted for the stage by Joel Horwood and Director Tom Scutt in this darkly comedic, sonic experience. 8 February-30 March donmarwarehouse.com

The Price

Wyndham’s Theatre

David Suchet in The Price. Credit Nobby Clark

Arthur Miller fans can rejoice knowing that Jonathan Church’s revival of The Price has been extended for a West End run following its brief showing in Bath last August. In classic Arthur Miller style, The Price is a tragicomedy revolving around the seemingly mundane intricacies of family life. David Suchet takes centre stage as Gregory Solomon, an 89-year-old furniture dealer called to assess a stash of family heirlooms in the attic of a New York brownstone left to estranged brothers Victor and Walter Franz – dark comedy ensues. Deeply affecting, the play’s message is one that sticks with you long after the curtains close. 11 February – 27 April wyndhamstheatre.co.uk

     

Witness for the Prosecution

London County Hall

Witness for the Prosecution

By Sheila Burnett

You’ve been summoned for jury service. Ingeniously set in the real-life chamber of London’s County Hall, Lucy Bailey’s production of Witness for the Prosecution breathes fresh life into the Agatha Christie courtroom drama. Taking well-plotted twists and unexpected turns in a manner capable of only Christie herself, the play is as entrancing and beguiling as the short story. Through the debated innocence of murder suspect Leonard Vole, the plot picks apart the law itself, reminding the audience of its theatricality; the pomp, the circumstance, the wigs. This brilliant rendition of Witness for the Prosecution certainly gives the well-loved BBC adaptions of Christie’s work a run for their money. Booking until 29 March 2020 witnesscountyhall.com 

Home, I’m Darling

Duke of York Theatre

Katherine Parkinson as Judy in Home, I'm Darling

Aesthetically pleasing to those with a soft spot for the 1950s, everything is deliciously vintage – but deceivingly so. Despite the frilly frocks, mid-century interiors and outdated relationship dynamics between wife and husband, Judy and Johnny, the play takes place in a 21st-century cultural cul-de-sac. Playwright Laura Wade takes a peep behind the facade to reveal the fractured and far-from-perfect fantasy of the 1950s housewife which is idealised by housewife Judy, portrayed in a remarkable performance by Katherine Parkinson. You’ll be leaving the theatre debating whether what you just saw was behind-the-times or radically feminist, but that’s the fun. 26 January – 13 April nationaltheatre.org.uk

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Palace Theatre

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

If you’re at all worried that this sacred text is being subjugated to any overblown, blindingly bright theatrics, then take a breath and relax. It’s not. The production delivers the same bliss of quality story telling as the books. Solid acting jobs in an almost black box theatre environment form the sturdy foundation of this production, so that once the effects are thrown in the mix (expect to be genuinely amazed) the result is pure magic. Until September with new tickets released 2 April harrypottertheplay.com

Best Current Art Exhibitions in London

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Piccadilly Theatre

Curious Incident

Following its UK and International tour, the smash-hit National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time returns to London for a strictly limited season. Winner of 7 Olivier Awards and 5 Tony Awardsincluding ‘Best Play’, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time brings Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel to thrilling life on stage, adapted by two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens and directed by Olivier and Tony Award-winning director Marianne Elliott. Until 27 April. curiousonstage.com

What’s on in London This Week? The Town Culture Diary

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