April, ideal for meteor showers, is here with perfect indoor-outdoor temperatures. Explore London’s hottest spots – West End theatres, as shows like The Unfriend, Medea, and The Way Old Friends Do conclude. This is our London theatre guide.
August in England – Bush Theatre
28 April – 10 June
Confirmed national treasure Lenny Henry makes his playwriting debut in a one-man play detailing a life ruined by the Windrush Scandal, which emerged in 2018. Described as ‘poignant and hilarious in equal measure,’ Henry’s effortless charisma means this topical debut is undoubtedly one to watch.
The Motive and the Cue – Lyttelton Theatre
20 April – 1 July
What do you get when you cross the director behind The Lehman Trilogy (Sam Mendes) and the busiest writer on British telly (Jack Thorne) with the true story behind Burton and Gielgud’s Hamlet? We’ve no idea, to be honest with you, but when The National Theatre’s latest all-new production rears its head at the end of the month, we might have a Motive and a Clue. Clue? Get it? The real play will be funnier, we’re sure.
Dancing at Lughnasa – Olivier Theatre
6 April – 27 May
Debuting at The National with a stacked Irish TV talent cast, Siobhan McSweeney and Ardal O’Hanlon lead the latest revival of Brian Friel’s 1990 play. Set in County Donegal in 1936, the story recounts a particularly long summer in northwestern Ireland. Family drama clashes with national economics to deliver a melancholic portrayal of rural Irish life.
Snowflakes – Park Theatre
12 April – 6 May
How far would you go to right a wrong? Described as a cross between Black Mirror and Inside No. 9, this sci-fi black comedy is a modern take on cancel culture, social media and the proliferation of trauma. Does that sound a little heavy for an evening at the theatre? Why not book a ticket and find out?
Operation Mincemeat – Fortune Theatre
29 March – 3 July
If last year’s cinematic spy-caper left you hankering for a spot of Hamilton, the critically-acclaimed musical which preceded it might be just up your foggy London street. Based on the WWII British deception of the same name, Operation Mincemeat follows a group of secret service agents working to plant false evidence of an upcoming invasion on a dead body in the channel. Debuting in 2019 to fantastic reviews, its West End premiere promises madcap schemes, floating corpses and a variety of musical styles delivered from an energetic cast of five multi-rolling performers.
The Unfriend – The Criterion Theatre
15 January – 16 April
Now out of previews, The Unfriend has completed a triumphant move from the Chichester Festival Theatre, and for a spot of light relief, it’s hard to recommend anything else. A classic farce in the most British sense of the word, Stephen Moffat’s first play is a hand-wringing send-up of politeness in the face of a terrible house guest, and it’s an absolute joy from beginning to end. Mark Gatiss’ solid direction and a cast a the top of their comic game only amplify a terrifically tight script which is increasingly difficult not to love.
Check out our review here.
The Lehman Trilogy – Gillian Lynne Theatre
24 January – 20 May
One acclaimed West End run in 2018 and a Broadway transfer later, the confusingly-titled The Lehman Trilogy returns to London with director Sam Mendes. Translated from Italian playwright Stefano Massini’s 3-part epic about the rise and collapse of the titular financial services firm, the New York Times has called Mendes’ interpretation “genuinely epic and magnificent,” and it cleaned up at the Tony awards last year. It’s also bloody brilliant. It might be worth seeing what the fuss is all about, eh?
Medea – Sohoplace Theatre
10 February – 22 April
Fan of Sophie Okonedo and classical Greek theatre? Well, this sounds right up your street! The time-old tale of what-happens-after-Jason-and-the-Arganauts returns to the West End, reuniting Okonedo with Haunted Child co-star Ben Daniels, who plays every male part in Dominic Cooke’s new adaptation. Medea also has the honour of opening the @sohoplace theatre – the first new stage on the West End in over 50 years. What better way to welcome something new than with a spot of Eurepidean tragedy?
Check out our review here:
Shirley Valentine – Duke of York’s Theatre
17 February – 3 June
“You’ve seen the film, now see the play it was based on…” Willy Russell’s Olivier Award-winning 1989 play jets off to the West End for 15 weeks, now with the equally Olivier-winning Sheridan Smith as the famed Liverpudlian housewife. A life-affirming tale of a woman fighting her way out of the clutches of the domestic laundry basket, this feel-good crowd-pleaser is sure to sell out fast. What an uncharacteristically cheerful month on the West End this is…
Bonnie & Clyde – Garrick Theatre
8 March – 20 May
America’s favourite sweethearts/murderous crime duo return to the West End in the all-singing musical that took Broadway by storm back in 2012. Starring the Olivier-nominated Frances Mayli McCann opposite &Juliet’s Jordan Luke Gage as the star-crossed lovers, this Depression-era odyssey might be just the treat for cold Spring-day blues.
The Way Old Friends Do – Park Theatre
15 March – 15 April
Fancy something brand-spanking new? The latest play from The Boys in the Band writer Ian Hallard and Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss follows two old schoolfriends from 1980s Birmingham as they reunite to form the first ABBA tribute band. Funny and tender in equal measure, an outing with this creative team is surely one to watch.
A Little Life – Harold Pinter Theatre
25 March – 18 June
Happy Valley’s James Norton stars as enigmatic lawyer Jude in the English-language debut of Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s acclaimed bestseller. When a secret about four struggling friends in New York comes out, their relationships will be tested to the absolute limit. Intriguing.