Eddie Redmayne in Cabaret.

The Best of the Best Theatre of 2021: The critics’ picks of the top West End theatre shows in 2021

WestEndTheatre.com does a good Reviews Round-up, so we thought we’d also round-up the “Best London Shows of 2021” lists that are flying around the news press from their theatre critics as we hurtle towards the end of the year.

And unlike 2020, there has actually been quite a lot of theatre to add to the lists, including some major openings of big West End shows like Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre) and Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre (even if official reviews for this won’t appear until well into 2022).

The clear favourites are two musicals – both completely different, but both garnering 5 top picks from the critics: Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre, andCabaret at the Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre) – pictured above. Both shows were selected by Sam Marlowe in iNews,Andrzej Lukowski in TimeOut and Nick Curtis and Jessie Thompson in the Evening Standard, with Cabaret favoured by Matt Wolf in the New York Times and Susannah Clapp in the Observer, and Anything Goes picked by Clive Davis in The Times and Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph.

These two musicals were closely followed by a play – James Graham’s Best of Enemies at the Young Vic Theatre starring Charles Edwards and David Harewood, that was picked by four critics.

Bringing up the rear, each with 3 top picks, are Nick Payne’s Constellations at the Vaudeville Theatre, which saw four different sets of actors perform the play; and exhilarating little scratch directed by Katie Mitchell at Hampstead Theatre.

Honourable mentions, each selected by two critics, include powerful new musical Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical at the Lyric Theatre; South Pacific at Chichester Festival Theatre, which is coming to Sadler’s Wells this summer; Emma Corrin and Nabhaan Rizwan in Joseph Charlton’s new play Anna X at the Harold Pinter Theatre; a revival of East is East at the Birmingham Rep / National Theatre; Ralph Fiennes in Four Quartets at the Harold Pinter Theatre; Macbeth at the Almeida directed by Yaël Farber and starring James McArdle and Saoirse Ronan; Value Engineering at Tabernacle in Notting Hill; What If If Only at the Royal Court Theatre; and Wuthering Heights at the Bristol Old Vic / York Theatre Royal.

Also check out our full listings of London shows to see in 2022, and new West End shows in 2022.

Anything Goes Sutton Foster

The Times

Clive Davis – best theatre of the year

  • Under Milk Wood, Olivier, National Theatre
  • The Wife of Willesden, Kiln Theatre
  • Anything Goes, Barbican Theatre (pictured)
  • East Is East, Birmingham Rep / National Theatre
  • Best of Enemies, Young Vic
  • Worst theatre: Manor, National Theatre

See the full list

Cast of Get Up, Stand Up The Bob Marley Musical, London 2021

The Evening Standard

Nick Curtis and Jessie Thompson, best theatre of 2021

See the full list

Cinderella - Gillian Lynne Theatre

The Telegraph

Dominic Cavendish, theatre as part of the 100 best cultural events of 2021

See the full list

Sheila Atim & Ivanno Jeremiah in Constellations, London Theatre Show

The Guardian

Arifa Akbar, the best theatre of 2021

  • Indecent, Menier Chocolate Factory
  • Wuthering Heights, Bristol Old Vic/York Theatre Royal
  • The Invisible Hand, Kiln Theatre
  • Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre (pictured)
  • Harm, Bush Theatre
  • Hamlet, Young Vic
  • Four Quartets, Harold Pinter Theatre
  • Hairspray, London Coliseum
  • Gin Craze!, Royal and Derngate Northampton
  • Romeo & Juliet, Sky Arts

See the full list

Pride & Prejudice* (*Sort Of)

The Observer

Susannah Clapp’s best theatre of 2021

See the full list

i News

Sam Marlowe, 10 best theatre shows of 2021

  • little scratch, Hampstead Theatre
  • Cabaret, Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre)
  • What If If Only, Royal Court Theatre
  • Paradise, National Theatre
  • Life of Pi, Wyndham’s Theatre (pictured)
  • Anything Goes, Barbican Theatre
  • East is East, Birmingham Rep / National Theatre
  • Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre
  • Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, Lyric Theatre
  • Straight White Men, Southwark Playhouse

See the full list

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

TimeOut London

Andrzej Lukowski, 10 best London theatre shows of 2021

  • After Life, National Theatre
  • Best of Enemies, Young Vic
  • Carousel, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
  • Spring Awakening, Almeida Theatre
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Duke of York’s Theatre (pictured)
  • Anything Goes, Barbican Theatre
  • little scratch, Hampstead Theatre
  • And Breathe…, Almeida Theatre
  • Macbeth, Almeida Theatre
  • Cabaret, Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre)

See the full list

Emma Corrin in Anna X. Photo - Helen Murray 2021

The New York Times

Matt Wolf, The Best (and Worst) Theater in Europe in 2021 – Four favorites from The Times’s theater critic in London

  • Anna X, Harold Pinter Theatre (pictured)
  • Cabaret, Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre)
  • Roman Tragedies, International Theater Amsterdam
  • What If If Only, Royal Court Theatre
  • Turkey of the year: Indecent Proposal, Southwark Playhouse

See the full list


👤 📅29 December 2021
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