TimeOut

Time Out London – London Theatre Reviews

London theatre and West End reviews from London publication Time Out.

Here’s a selection of reviews of London shows from the theatre and arts critics at Time Out.

The lead theatre critic at Time Out is Andrzej Lukowski.

Alice Saville also writes reviews for TimeOut.

See below for a full run-down of star ratings and theatre opinions about West End shows in London from Time Out.


The Trials at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★★

"Teenagers are given power of life or death in Dawn King’s gripping climate dystopia"

"‘The Trials’ works both on an allegorical level – how will our children judge us? – and also to explore the idea that revolution and an end of democracy is likely if governments won’t meaningfully tackle climate change."

"I found ‘The Trials’ gripping, both as an urgent imagining of how our generation will be viewed by our kids, but also a smart imagining of revolution generally."

" ‘Heartstopper’ fans here for Locke will be happy that his intense, angry Noah is a highlight, as is pro actor Kneafsky’s zen Ren. There’s even another ‘Heartstopper’ alumnus in William Gao as dashing volunteer worker Xander."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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South Pacific at the Sadler's Wells (2022)

★★★★

"Smart revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s WW2-set jewel"

"... Daniel Evans’s Chichester Festival Theatre revival of ‘South Pacific’ is affirmation that you don’t actually have to irreverently deconstruct Rodgers & Hammerstein for them to feel relevant."

"Let’s be clear: the score is staggering, and that’s why ‘South Pacific’ still gets staged. It’s home to an almost indecent number of masterpieces, from the sassy proto-pop of ‘Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair’ to the swooning romance of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ to the excoriating ‘You’ve Got to Be Taught’ which is – the odd crass rhyme aside – a still blistering anti-racism song."

"Ultimately ‘South Pacific’ is a very pleasurable musical that also makes some serious points very well."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Tempest at the Shakespeare's Glob (2022)

★★★★

"Sean Holmes directs a super-fun production of Shakespeare’s magical final play"

"... Holmes’s production is aware of the environmental and post-colonial dimensions of a play that is, very much, about a bunch of Europeans bringing their junk – both literally and figuratively – to a magical, unspoilt shore. But it’s also a bloody good laugh."

"It’s a lighthearted ‘Tempest’ with darker undercurrents and a lovely intimacy provided by the moments performed on the small added thrust stage - O’Brien’s call and response routine with the audience towards the end of the first half is a proper bit of Globe magic. The Globe Ensemble of actors are also really cooking with gas at this stage: some of these people have basically done nothing but perform in Shakespeare plays since the Globe reopened last spring, and the ease with the language and ability to work the crowd is markedly better than the non-Ensemble shows this summer. It won’t go down in history as a revolutionary production, but as a crowd pleaser it’s inventive, compassionate and really just a pure joy."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Chasing Hares at the Young Vic (2022)

★★★

"Sonali Bhattacharyya’s drama about the erosion of workers’ rights in Bengal and Britain is powerful once it hits its stride"

"Initially, ‘Chasing Hares’ drags. Director Milli Bhatia doesn't find a convincing way of making Prab's elaborate animal fables feel gripping (a little light shadow puppetry doesn't cut it) and the play takes too long to set up its central moral dilemma. But in the second act, things start to fizz."

"Bhattacharyya attempts something bold here, by merging Indian folk theatre with contemporary idioms. Moi Tran’s dour, grey, spaceship-esque set design doesn't provide the colourful arena needed for the production to sing, and the moments where ‘Chasing Hares’ tries to get the audience chanting along fall a little flat. But even if it doesn't fully rouse the masses, this is still a thoughtful and thoroughly welcome contribution to the conversation around workers' rights, as our politicians try their best to erode them. "

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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Sister Act at the Eventim Apollo (2022)

★★★

"Despite Beverley Knight’s stupendous vocals, this big-budget musical revival misses intended star Whoopi Goldberg"

" Beverly Knight makes a very respectable replacement for Goldberg: retaining her Arkansas accent from her recent run in ‘The Drifters Girl’, the Queen of UK Soul™ is a musical-theatre veteran these days. If she’s clearly not as funny as Goldberg would have been, she blows pretty virtually everyone else away vocally: she is an extraordinary singer. "

"Nonetheless, it’s a solid production from Bill Buckhurst with some fun set-pieces: in particular, Rowe’s double-quick change in the song ‘I Could Be That Guy’ is truly astounding, while the lurid curtain-call costumes are a migraine-inducing delight (it’s great work all round from costume designer Morgan Large)."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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101 Dalmatians at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Kate Fleetwood steals the show as an influencer Cruella de Vil in this uneven new family musical"

"Adapted direct from Dodie Smith’s 1956 kids’ book – ie, absolute not a Disney production – ‘101 Dalmatians’ is a scrappy affair. It’s the first ever original musical from the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and it boasts charming puppetry, big-name writers and a scream of a turn from Kate Fleetwood as the evil Cruella de Vil. But by the towering standards of the OAT – known for its revelatory musical revivals – it’s pretty uneven."

"My kids didn’t care about any of this: they enjoyed two hours of a lighthearted good vs evil yarn with some cool puppets and a boo-hissable villain. They didn’t worry about the merits of ‘101 Dalmatians’ as a musical for the ages. And if you can take the same attitude, you’ll have a blast, or at least you’ll have a blast in the good bits. But ultimately the Open Air Theatre is one of the best musical theatre venues in London, and by its own extremely lofty standards, ‘101 Dalmatians’ is a bit of a dog’s dinner."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Jack Absolute Flies Again at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Richard Bean and Oliver Chris’s WW2-set reworking of ‘The Rivals’ is very funny but not a lot more"

"‘Jack Absolute Flies Again’ is a very funny play. But it’s not an especially great one, or to be fairer, its greatness is definitely not in proportion to how funny it is. It’s relentlessly chucklesome, but almost aggressively lacking in wider purpose..."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan are a blast in this luxuriously eccentric take on Shakespeare’s romcom"

"If this production has a fault it’s that it doesn’t feel even slightly urgent. It’s a luxuriant meander though ‘Much Ado’ that often seems immensely pleased with itself. Again, see: the films of Wes Anderson. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s right to be pleased with itself. Spending time at the Hotel Messina is a pleasure, a lazy holiday on which not a lot happens, very charmingly. It’s a wrench to leave."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Peaky Blinders: The Rise reviews at the Camden Garrison (2022)

"This is comfortably the most tedious immersive theatre show I’ve seen in London in at least ten years."

"if you want a Peaky Blinders fancy dress party then this is fine"

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Patriots at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Falls short of its ambitions"

"It’s an interesting, informative play, with three great performances in Hollander’s brilliant, quicksilver Berezovsky, Keen’s hypnotically plausible, hangdog Putin, and Luke Thallon’s Abramovitch"

"It’s a solid drama from Morgan, with a superior cast and an entertaining production. But the fact it threatens to say something devastatingly perceptive about the world in 2022 makes it all the more disappointing when it doesn’t."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Emilia Clarke is irresistible in Jamie Lloyd’s ultra-stripped back take on Chekhov’s masterpiece"

"To say Lloyd’s production is boring would be far from true. But it harnesses the dramatic potential of tedium: you can palpably feel the dullness and the smallness of the island, gnawing away at the senses of its inhabitants, many of whom speak in flat, low voices, some barely more than a mumble."

"In this context the use of Anya Reiss’s lairy 2012 adaptation of the play seems less because Lloyd’s production feels in sync with her sweary, yoof-friendly adaptation, but because its spikey dialogue adds a bit of energy and humour to the wilfully hushed delivery."

"Nonetheless, the ostensibly subdued performances are all gripping and often startlingly original. "

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the London Palladium (2022)

★★★

"Disney’s spectacular-looking musical is a stunning exercise in vamping for time"

"A song and dance sequence set in a tavern involving rhythmically clanking flagons and vain antagonist Gaston (Tom Senior) singing about how amazing he is was genuinely jaw-dropping. But it’s also frustratingly superfluous, a grandiose exercise in stalling for time."

"Genuinely, it is one of the most visually impressive shows I’ve ever seen: even Meyer’s painted backdrops are gorgeous, and that’s to say nothing of the woodcut-style projection of wolves, the gasp-inducing quick changes and the beautiful 3D sets, most notably the dreamy tunnel of night blossoming pink roses."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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That Is Not Who I Am at the Royal Court Theatre (2022)

★★★

"A slippery thriller"

"Davies and Kelly have a winning chemistry, their physical passion for each other glueing them together even as their lives come unstuck during the isolation of Covid. Still, it's not quite enough to make this paranoid pair entertaining company for this play's one-hour 45-minute running time. This play is billed as a thriller, but the fact that we know how their anti-surveillance, anti-government mission is going to end means it often feels ponderous rather than tense."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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A Dolls House, Part 2 at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★★

"A funny, sharp metasequel to Ibsen’s classic play"

"If ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ has an obvious weakness it’s that Hnath’s determination to not appear to revise Ibsen’s story leads to some slightly weird plot beats. I very much struggled to work out what Nora’s plan was supposed to be at the end. But this isn’t actually a story about what happened after Nora walked out, because we know that: Nora went on to become a legend, one of the most iconic creations in literature. Hnath’s play is a razor-sharp, frequently hilarious interrogation of that legend."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Jitney at the Old Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"A captivating revival"

"Tinuke Craig’s exquisite revival peels back the walls of their crumbling workplace, allowing us to enter it as bystanders who have happened to stumble across their little world."

"Wondrous and captivating, Craig’s production gets this play’s soul."

Anya Ryan, TimeOut
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The Gunpowder Plot at the Tower Vaults London (2022)

★★★★

"The Gunpowder Plot has set a new gold standard"

"This lavish new immersive theatre attraction from the Tower of London is, in essence, a 100-minute theme-park ride"

"What marks the ‘The Gunpowder Plot’ out as special is its superior creative team, headed by writer Danny Robins (‘The Battersea Poltergeist’, ‘2:22 - A Ghost Story’) and director Hannah Price (of the King’s Head and activist company Theatre Uncut."

"The Gunpowder Plot’ is streets ahead of its London peers like ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Doctor Who: Time Fracture’ and ‘The War of the Worlds’. It engages with its source material with genuine intelligence and care – it’s not just a glorified cosplay sesh."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Britannicus at the Lyric Hammersmith (2022)

★★★★

"Atri Banerjee’s production takes us to 'Succession' territory"

"Like ancient Greek dramas, Racine's play has an arch, declamatory quality, its players turning to the audience to unfold their schemes or unpick the story's tangles. Banerjee's staging handles this artificiality stylishly, with Rosanna Vize’s design making the stage feel like a Tate Modern installation. It's deliberately non-naturalistic and flooded with coloured washes of light and studiedly mundane touches like the conference centre chairs that get kicked over as things kick off. This production feels like a masterclass in how to take a seldom-staged (in the UK, anyway) text and seduce an audience into confronting it, in all its writhing, sexy ugliness."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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ABBA Voyage at the ABBA Arena (2022)

★★★★

"A spectacular vision of pop’s future"

"This is art built for the fans: it’s about standing side-by-side in a euphoric sense of togetherness, singing the same lyrics as thousands of other people while letting your senses go. This concept will probably go international and it’s only the beginning for what the technology means for the stars of today. Fine, it will never replace real people. But it is still memorable, dazzling, and breath-taking entertainment."

Chiara Wilkinson, TimeOut
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Legally Blonde The Musical at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2022)

★★★

"It’s weird, visually striking and basically pretty funny"

"this revival of ‘Legally Blonde’ feels less like an update of the 2007 musical, more like a bizarre fever dream about it."

"It’s weird, visually striking and basically pretty funny, but I found it very difficult to get a handle on it emotionally."

"Bowman’s Elle seems like a kook adrift in her own peculiar pink reality, cosplaying the role of the ditzy fashion marketing student who uses her business smarts to follow Warner to Harvard Law School, rather than being an active participant in her own story."

"after a first half so singularly unafraid to do its own thing that I was mostly sat gawping in vague, is-this-really-happening befuddlement, the second felt more exposing of the shortcomings of both director and the musical itself."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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My Fair Lady  (2022)

★★★

"This fractionally tweaked Broadway production of the classic musical is pleasant but won’t win over any doubters"

"Amara Okereke plays cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle with vocal aplomb: her voice soars through much-loved songs like 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly', making them a heart-rending highlight of the show. But she also makes Eliza a bit of a caricature. When she’s called insults like a ‘squashed cabbage leaf’ by patronising upper-class phonetics expert Henry Higgins she's not crushed – she physically shoves him out the room, in moments of physical comedy that mask her vulnerability in the moment. And as Higgins, Harry Hadden-Paton lacks the haughty charisma and underlying menace needed to give their relationship real snap."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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Grease at the Dominion Theatre (2022)

★★★

"A harder, darker hornier version of the classic musical"

"Nikolai Foster’s big West End revival isn’t an aggressively dramatic reappraisal, like the version of ‘Oklahoma!’ currently playing at the Young Vic. It’s more a careful sift through all the songs and story options available, that have then been pieced together into the hardest-edged version available, but without actually dramatically departing from precedent."

"Foster’s key decision is to reinstate swathes of the very first, 1971 version of the musical, which has never been performed professionally in this country (or indeed, outside of Chicago where the show originated). He’s held on to the big anthems added for the film – ‘Grease is the Word’, ‘You’re the One that I Want’ – because obviously he doesn’t want an audience riot on his hands."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Oklahoma! at the Young Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"This radical Rodgers & Hammerstein revival lives up to the thirsty hype"

"I’m struggling to think of a hornier theatre production than Daniel Fish’s radical revamp of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1943 musical ‘Oklahoma!’.

"A big pre-pandemic hit in New York – where it was dubbed ‘sexy Oklahoma!’ – the first half in particular of Fish’s deceptively barebones production leans really creatively into the fact that very little happens in ‘Oklahoma!’ beyond its characters thirsting after each other, and thirsting hard."

"Crucially, it’s very well cast. Lucas is wonderful as the flinty-eyed but vulnerable Laurey; Wallace is a wellspring of good vibes and vocal powerhousing as Annie. Darvill hits just the right note of ambiguity as Curley - charming, yes, but entitled and mean to returning US cast member Vaill’s excellent Jud. Also returning from the US, Davis is a rubbery-bodied dream, bounding about the stage as the blissfully dopey Will. Crucially, Fish has allowed the Annie love triangle plot to stay funny and sweet and largely unaltered – you can radically revamp a show while holding on to the bits that work just fine."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

"Mark Rylance lets the old magic flow once again as the stage performance of our lifetimes returns"

"I doubt the legacy of ‘Jerusalem’ the play is really going to be settled until Mark Rylance leaves it, because the power of Rooster Byron as a character is so hard to separate from his performance (there have been smaller productions around the world, but nothing approaching the scale of this one). Which is just fine: all the endless discussion of ‘Jerusalem’ feels a bit irrelevant when you’re confronted by the elemental reality of the thing itself. Leave it to future generations to decide where ‘Jerusalem’ goes on a list. For a few months, it has returned to our dark, satanic mills. Come, you giants!"

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Prima Facie at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Jodie Comer gives a tour de force performance in this slightly clunky sexual assault monologue"

"It’s a personal triumph somewhat mitigated by the fact that the play she’s chosen is pretty clunky. But ‘Prima Facie’, by Aussie writer Suzie Miller, is impassioned and about an important subject, and let’s be honest, in ‘Killing Eve’ Comer could always spin gold out of material that got pretty ‘mixed’ as the seasons wore on. Here, Miller gives her everything she needs."

"However, it’s understandable that Comer wanted to kick off her stage career with a meaty 100-minute monologue about something she feels passionate about. If all famous actors simply went for the best play possible, we’d be stuck with even more bloody ‘Hamlet’. With ‘Prima Facie’, Jodie Comer had something to prove about herself, and something she wanted to say about the world, and she’s done both."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Corn is Green at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Nicola Walker is tremendous as an inspirational schoolteacher in this classy revival for Emelyn Williams’s slightly dated Welsh classic"

"Cooke’s production does a huge amount to smooth over this story’s rough edges. His masterstroke is to turn it into a kind of memory play, with Emelyn Williams himself appearing as a kind of narrator who reads the stage directions out loud. As his world becomes more and more fully realised, so does Ultz's set design, growing from a bare stage into a full schoolhouse box set, while scene changes offer vignettes from the glittering 1930s parties of Williams’s future."

"This is a fine example of how to revive a dated play and make it feel postmodern and fresh. But the text of ‘The Corn is Green’ lacks the raw power needed to make this exercise feel worthwhile: it's an intellectual fairytale where obstacles to Evans’s success conveniently vanish, and supporting characters are thin cardboard cutouts to be knocked down on his path to glory. Strong performances and an undeniable momentum make it fun to watch, but there's not much to ponder when the music fades."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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Marys Seacole at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★

"The headspinning new play from the author of ‘Fairview’"

"As it happens, ‘Marys Seacole’ is an altogether different affair, which retains the extreme willingness to be awkward that ‘Fairview’ had without quite managing to channel it into the same sort of thrilling conclusion."

"The ‘real’ Mary’s carefully constructed reality falls apart as she attempts to continue her story, but is confounded by the collapsing in of the play’s narrative. But to me it just felt like… a load of cool theatrey stuff happening, in a way that didn’t obviously seem to make a clear point. And honestly, nobody loves cool theatrey stuff more than I do, but while I could hazard a guess at what it all meant (Mary hitting the limits of her own self-constructed existence?) it all feels messy and diffuse, a string of familiar avant-garde parlour tricks in lieu of the sort of virtuosic ending ‘Fairview’ had.

"Nonetheless, it does nothing to detract from the fact Drury is one of the most fascinating US playwrights out there. Even her failures would probably have more ideas than most other playwrights’ successes, and ‘Marys Seacole’ is a long way from a failure."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Burnt City at the One Cartridge Place (2022)

★★★★

"Immersive theatre legends Punchdrunk return with a jaw-dropping riff on Greek myth"

"Punchdrunk has a very distinct aesthetic, and when the company was more prolific and there was a new production every couple of years it was easy to affect a certain cynicism about the recurring elements. But as they finally return after eight years away, it’s clear that there is no other immersive theatre company even remotely comparable to Punchdrunk."

"It’s all hauntingly beautiful thanks to Doyle’s ominous slo-mo choreography and the silent actor-dancers’ extraordinary physicality (it is an amazing show for just seeing dancers’ bodies close up – they don’t look like us!). And there’s a secret weapon in Stephen Dobbie’s extraordinary score, which veers from the usual Lynchian throbs and drones to soaringly emotional, string-drenched sheets of post-rock that I think would probably only work in rooms of this size. It all adds up to genuinely gripping storytelling. You might see it as damning with faint praise, but this is the first time I started a Punchdrunk show by spending 45 minutes following a single story, and actually knowing what’s going on."

"Does it all add up to something? Does it have a message? Well, I think it’s an extraordinarily beautifully wrought tribute to the savage, doomy mysticism of Greek mythology. It probably has tangential echoes of the current war in Ukraine: a vibrant civilisation besieged by a shattered, exhausted, soulless superpower. But mostly it feels like a new monument to the power of its creators’ vision. After eight years away, Punchdrunk have returned, and they’re still awe-inspiring."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Scandaltown at the Lyric Hammersmith (2022)

★★★

"Mike Bartlett’s faux-Restoration comedy is good fun but a bit weak as satire"

"It takes guts to try and satirise an era of culture war-infected British politics that pretty effectively sends up itself. It takes even more guts to do it in the style of a Restoration comedy, full of crossdressing, courtly language and creaking corsets. So Mike Bartlett's new play ‘Scandaltown’ gets some serious points for trying, even if it ultimately falls short of sharp-toothed hilarity and lands somewhere a bit more mealy-mouthed."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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The 47th at the The Old Vic (2022)

★★★★

"Bertie Carvel is astoundingly good as an anarchic Donald Trump in Mike Bartlett’s audacious blank verse drama"

"Essentially, this Trump is an unstoppable spirit of anarchy, a destructive force of nature, a Lord of Misrule. He’s perhaps most obviously comparable to Shakespeare’s Richard, but Barlett lays on numerous explicit Shakespeare comparisons and pastiches, with Trump at points apeing both King Lear and Mark Antony. And it would be wrong to limit the comparisons to the classical: Heath Ledger’s unstoppable, unknowable Joker would seem like a fairly solid reference point, as Trump leads his minions in an all-out assault against democracy, their fanatical pulse embodied in Joss Carter’s bellowing, bestial Shaman."

"You have to meet ‘The 47th’ on its own terms. It does not represent a realistic, po-faced attempt to map out the next US presidential election. For some, Bartlett’s language and Carvel’s articulacy and charisma will be dignifying Trump (though if that’s a problem maybe don’t see a blank verse play about him). Others will probably think it should include a more forensic list of the criticisms of Harris, Biden and Democrats in general (both sides!). But really, it’s tremendous entertainment, that explores the decline of American democracy in an infinitely more enjoyable way than the actual decline of American democracy we must all bear witness to."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Human Voice at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★

"Despite Ruth Wilson’s spirited performance, Cocteau’s 1930 phone monologue feels dated and sexist"

"Van Hove has modernised the setting and I’m not sure why: it’s pretty odd splicing a feisty, noisy soundtrack including Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ onto a dialogue about where to keep the ashes of your burnt billet-doux. And the play’s comments – complaints really – about the newfangled technology of the telephone are fairly ho-hum, they don’t shed any light on our era’s convenient yet alienating dating and tech hook-ups, and give the impression of having been dashed off after a frustrating night trying to dump a lover. Wilson, Cocteau and Van Hove are all the elements you need for an incredibly classy night but for me it was an evening of crossed wires and bad connections."

Caroline McGinn, TimeOut
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Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Thirteen years on, Mike Bartlett’s ‘Cock’ stands up"

"Welcome to the dawn of the Mike Bartlett supremacy. Always prolific, soon the playwright will have three shows on in London at the same time: next month, his faux-Renaissance comedy about twenty-first-century London ‘Scandaltown’ will open within days of ‘The 47th’, his faux-Shakespearean verse play about the 2024 US presidential election."

"Funny and playful but with a stark psychological intensity"

"Discourse around sexuality has changed a lot in the last decade and a bit. But I think the strength of ‘Cock’ is that it’s less bothered about deconstructing sexuality than deconstructing society: John’s problem isn’t that nobody can accept that he’s bisexual, but that he’s pressured to make up his mind to be with M or W in order to slot into a neat box that will keep everyone else happy (or at least give them closure). F is in some ways a peripheral figure, but his determination to have resolution for his son feels representative of the way John’s vacillating desires run up against the need for societal approval. Perhaps it has less of the brutal clarity of 2013’s companion piece ‘Bull’ (about workplace bullying), but while society favours monogamy and clarity over messy fluidity, ‘Cock’ stands up."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Pure Sensory Overload"

"It’s a very fun night out, guaranteed to push the buttons of anyone who grew up on ‘Pop World’, 2manyDJs, or indeed, the films of Baz Luhrmann. But for all its tongue-in-cheek chutzpah, when the music stops you’re not left with much."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre) (2021)

★★★★

"Jessie Buckley gives the performance of the year and Eddie Redmayne is a bit much in this spectacular Kander & Ebb revival"

"Jessie Buckley’s star has been on the rise ever since she starred in the talent show ‘I’d Do Anything’ as a teen: she followed it by going to drama school and building a credible screen and stage career. But a Bafta-nominated turn in ‘Wild Rose’ has really amped up her stature. Her Sally is some of the usual things: posh, inscrutable, maddeningly oblivious to the rise of Nazism. But she’s no ingenue or sex kitten: she’s a roaring force of nature, a proper rock star, vamping about in a green faux-fur coat, absolutely not giving a stuff what anybody thinks about her. In many of the later scenes she’s free of make-up, her severe bob the only ornate thing about her as she shuffles about in bare feet and a dowdy white shift. But she is always utterly magnetic, a force of nature."

"Almost in the same league is ‘It’s a Sin’ star Omari Douglas as Clifford, the penniless, wandering American who falls in with Sally and, for a time, almost persuades her to leave her world. He has an intensity but also a deep vulnerability from the off – not the booming American who only reveals his secrets drop by drop, but a beautiful and different young man whose guilelessness, honesty and – frankly – need of mothering overrides Sally’s natural defences."

"Really the whole production is a triumph for (Tom) Scutt, who not only remodelled the theatre and designed the set, but created the costumes too. I’m not going to pretend I’m any sort of expert in the apparel of the clubs of the late Weimar Republic. But I’d say Scutt has channelled their spirit, added some alluringly anachronistic modernism, and moved things away from the slightly naff ‘sexiness’ of recent productions of this show: costumes are angular, vivid, somewhat grotesque; the performers’ faces are sardonic, or sinister, not submissive or lusty."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Best of Enemies at the The Young Vic (2021)

★★★★★

"David Harewood and Charles Edwards are phenomenal in James Graham’s love letter to America’s chaotic late ’60s"

"Jeremy Herrin’s production for Headlong and Graham’s script bring all this to vivid life: rather than a straitlaced ‘Frost/Nixon’ style set up, ‘Best of Enemies’ explodes with colour and characters, a cyclone of ideas with the Vidal/Buckley clash its eye. Bunny Christie‘s vivid, flexible TV studio set is a thrill, Tom Gibbon’s occasionally cartoonish sound design a kinetic hoot, Syrus Lowe at the very least walks off with best supporting actor for his magnificent turn as the frail, poised, devastatingly perceptive James Baldwin, and John Hodgkinson is horribly magnetic as Chicago’s foul-mouthed, mob boss-like Mayor Daley. "

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Book of Dust at the Bridge Theatre (2021)

★★★

"Nicholas Hytner directs a spirited stab at adapting Philip Pullman’s baffling ‘His Dark Materials’ prequel"

"At least this fluent and visually beautiful show from Nick Hytner’s Bridge Theatre is neither cynical nor a car crash. It’s sometimes batshit but never boring. Its good and bad qualities stem from Bryony Lavery’s pedestrian adaptation of a book which is phenomenally hard to stage. ‘The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage’ revolves around two kids and a six-month-old baby, and has a plot that unravels madly – mostly on a canoe on a flooded Thames – with so many thrills, spills and mythical bit parts, even the fans argue about WTF it means."

"I would take older children or fans to see this and be confident they’d find something to enjoy and to argue about afterwards. But it’s no ‘War Horse’, and certainly no ‘Northern Lights’."

Caroline McGinn, TimeOut
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Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"The musical witches of this 'Wizard of Oz' prequel are still casting a spell over the West End"

"After its 2006 opening at Apollo Victoria, Oz prequel 'Wicked' continues to fill this massive theatre with an international crowd"

"This stylish and bombastic musical still delivers, sailing over its patchy score thanks to a gravity-defying performance "

Honour Bayes, TimeOut
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The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the Duke of York's Theatre (2021)

★★★★★

"The National Theatre’s adaptation is even better in the West End"

"The bottom line is, shows like this don’t come along very often. Maybe it’s changed, maybe I’ve changed, but second time out ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ felt bigger, stranger, sadder and more beautiful – I wish I could swim in its twilight waters for longer."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) at the Criterion Theatre (2021)

★★★

"Gleefully in-yer-face stage adaptation"

"Stretched out over two-and-a-half hours it does wear itself thin. It’s brimming with energy, but ends up feeling like a slightly MOR endeavour, an extended riff on the enduring British love of the novel rather than a revelatory deconstruction of it."

"It is an awful lot of fun, a naughty-but-nice celebration of Austen’s classic that could easily find itself shacked up at the Criterion Theatre for years to come."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Back to the Future at the Adelphi Theatre (2021)

★★★

"Great Scott! The DeLorean is amazing, but this bombastic musical of the classic film is A Lot"

"I don’t want to be overly critical: it’s entertaining, just a bit much. The story remains an extremely enjoyable romp, with chuckles aplenty; the stagecraft is a wow, especially with regards to the DeLorean."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Frozen The Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (2021)

★★★★

"The musical version of ‘Frozen’ is an awesome spectacle with more heart, depth and darkness than the film"

"This isn’t ‘Frozen’ for adults, a dark new take on ‘Frozen’, or a radical reinvention by spectacle like ‘The Lion King’. But it’s a thoughtful, attractive and human spin that manages to balance a Drury Lane-size spectacle with recognising what audiences want from ‘Frozen’, and subtly bringing it a little closer to ‘The Snow Queen’. If the film is a pre-school classic, the musical is maybe a couple of years more grown-up. But its most magical moments will wow every age group."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre (2021)

★★★

"This Disney musical looks and sounds magical – even if it’s a few shades weirder than the much-loved movie"

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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The Phantom of the Opera at the Her Majesty's Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Andrew Lloyd Webber's gothic spectacular is totally '80s in the best possible way"

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Sutton Foster blows off the roof in this sublime revival of the classic musical"

"They don’t make ’em like this anymore – and even if they did, the massive cast and sumptuous orchestra still feel like an astonishing luxury anomaly in pingtastic 2021. But it feels fresh: the only thing to prompt a real eyebrow-raise in 2021 is the late number ‘The Gypsy in Me’ – it’s basically harmless, but I don’t think anyone would write it today."

"Veteran Brit Robert Lindsay can’t really hope to keep up with her (the man’s 71 for chrissakes) but he offers her a terrific comic foil as shambolic second-tier gangster Moonface Martin, who has snuck on board the ship for Reasons, and essentially spends the show threatening to do something terrible to somebody with a machine gun, while remaining relentlessly cuddly. Wilfully dysfunctional and ad-libbing all over the shop, Lindsay has a very entertaining duet with Reno (‘Friendship’) in which he mostly tries to get Foster to corpse, which is genuinely great fun. "

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre (2020)

★★★

"A gorgeous festive ballet for families, based on Raymond Briggs' story"

"the love and precision with which the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production is put together reinforces its deserved status as a classic, and at the point when the boy and the snowman take off to fly above the stage everyone (with, it must be confessed, the exception of my two-year-old son, who was busy pretending to receive an executive call on his fibre-optic torch) is enchanted."

Rachel Halliburton (2013), TimeOut
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Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre (2020)

★★★★

"It’s been reworked, but ‘Les Misérables’ is still very much ‘Les Misérables’, in all its OTT glory"

"I don’t think anybody could realistically see this imperfect, absurd, magnificent show and suggest that its crown as London’s longest-runner is in any danger."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Cirque Du Soleil - Luzia at the Royal Albert Hall (2020)

★★★

"You always know what you’re getting with Cirque du Soleil, but this Mexico-themed show is one of the Montréal circus giant’s strongest"

“The acrobatics are on the old-school side: juggling, a contortionist, some people dressed as hummingbirds jumping through hoops. But the skill levels are through the roof, and being generally restrained means the show feels more coherent than some of its predecessors, which seemed like a series of set pieces with lengthy gaps in the middle.”

“‘Luzia’ is an agreeably soulful spectacle that fruitfully tinkers with a well-worn formula.”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Magic Goes Wrong at the Vaudeville Theatre (2020)

★★★

"Magic Goes Wrong’ feels caught at a strange crossroads between Mischief’s bumbling Englishness and Penn & Teller’s edgier interjections."

"The plot is pretty much contained in the title: neurotic magician Sophisticato (Henry Shields) is throwing a charity magic gala in his late father’s memory, and he’s rustled up some truly terrible acts to perform, notably Henry Lewis’s hack mentalist The Mind Mangler, and Dave Hearn’s entertaining The Blade, an amusing send-up of faux-edgy ‘alt’ magicians."

"That this somehow stretches on for two-and-a-half-hours without really having a plot is not ideal, not least because the ambling pace buries the handful of pretty good tricks in the show – a snappy 90 minutes but with all the tricks intact would surely have been stronger."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Lloyd and co have cooked up something pretty remarkable"

“It’s Cyrano de Berger-rap. It’s James rap-Avoy. It’s… perhaps more accurate to say the rhythms of Martin Crimp’s new version of classic French play ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ are closer to the languid cadences of performance poetry than actual hip hop. But undoubtedly this is your first opportunity to listen to Mr Tumnus spitting verse.”

”It doesn’t have the euphoric effortlessness and virtuoso authenticity of ‘Hamilton’; but it’s not a million miles off, and the fact the two shows can even be discussed in the same breath is a testament to the fact that Lloyd and co have cooked up something pretty remarkable”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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& Juliet at the Shaftesbury Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Joyously daft musical riff on ‘Romeo & Juliet’, based on the hits of pop maestro Max Martin"

"& Juliet is a heavily ironic Shakespeare rewrite based on the songs of super-producer Max Martin. And with the gift of that knowledge, I can fairly confidently state that you’ll probably like ‘& Juliet’ almost precisely as much as you expect to like & Juliet."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Noel Coward Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"A fragile high schooler’s lie spins dizzyingly out of control as this smart Broadway musical smash finally hits the West End"

"It’s easy to see why ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ has won so many fans since it first premiered in 2015: it mixes agonising tension with surgingly catchy songs by songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who’ve also worked on movies ‘La La Land’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’. The standout numbers are emotive rock ballads like ‘You Will be Found’, the kind of thing you’d wave your lighter along to if the West End’s theatres weren’t imperilled enough already."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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Groan Ups at the Vaudeville Theatre (2019)

★★

“The folks behind ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ fall flat on their faces with this oft-cringey school-set comedy”

Mischief Theatre...they're a genuinely heartening success story with an impressive work ethic and it’s a real shame that their new play ‘Groan Ups’ is fairly dreadful.”

“All sorts of wearyingly crass assumptions about class and sexuality.”

“They are a fundamentally likeable bunch. But they blunder way outside their comfort zone with the child acting in the first half and again with the bittersweet dramedy stuff in the second”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Girl Who Fell at the Trafalgar Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Fiercely funny stuff"

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Lungs at the The Old Vic (2019)

★★★★

"Their performances – hers in particular – grow immeasurably in stature"

“Warchus’s revival is broader and more sitcommy than previous, more experimental productions of the play. The humour, in particular, succumbs to a few more cliches, leans a little too much on hoary truisms about the differences between men and women. But it also has more emotional weight.”

“Ultimately, ‘Lungs’ is about guilt: yes, that slightly wanky motivator known as ‘middle-class guilt’. But something deeper than that: guilt at having failed a partner, guilt at having failed a child, guilt at having failed your younger self… guilt at having failed the planet. Smith and Foy are always watchable, and ‘Lungs’ is funny throughout. But their performances – hers in particular – grow immeasurably in stature as the short play wears on, as they’re virtually crushed by the world until finally the world pretty much forces them to make a stand against it.”

“Historically, there have not been a lot of good plays about climate change. ‘Lungs’ isn’t a flat-out masterpiece: but it is a good play about climate change, and I hope this production has a life beyond its current brief stint. It’s not so much that it that tells us what we should be afraid of. It knows what we’re afraid of already – and there’s comfort in that."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Vassa at the Almeida Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Bartlett's adaptation is very, very funny"

"Playing the title role (after Samantha Bond withdrew following injury), Siobhan Redmond squeezes her errant daughter-in-law until her eyes pop"

"Bartlett's adaptation is very, very funny, and its nihilist jokes are underscored by Craig's (Tinuke Craig) uproarious staging."

"When 'Vassa' starts operating less like a farce and more like a political tragedy, its impact falters."

"Her transformation into a guilt-ridden tragic figure comes too late, and feels hollow; she's less of a Medea, more a psychopathic middle manager."

"The 1983 soviet film 'Vassa' ends in the 1913 revolution; it feels like there's something similarly biting, similarly political missing from this play's weak ending."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg at the Trafalgar Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Listless revival"

“Listless revival of the late Peter Nichols’s black comedy about two parents and their disabled daughter”

“There’s a lot that’s interesting about ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’. But Simon Evans’s production is oddly unsatisfying. The stakes never feel that high, even at the point of something seriously dramatic happening towards the end.”

“For a play about covering everything up, it certainly feels like we’re only getting the surface layer.”

Rosemary Waugh, TimeOut
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Solaris at the Lyric Hammersmith (2019)

★★★★

"It’s a haunting trip, into inner and outer space"

"I’d hope (Stanisław) Lem could acknowledge the boldness and, ultimately, the beauty of (David) Greig’s take on his seminal space novel"

“spectacularly nimble stage management from Kiri Baildon-Smith”

“It’s defined by Paul Jackson’s exemplary lighting design, which conveys the disorientating otherness of the intertwining light of Solaris’s two suns, one red, one blue”

“Occasionally I felt like Greig had lost his nerve a bit, failed to trust the book and made alterations that bring his ‘Solaris’ more in line with a Western sci-fi convention that Lem was never connected to.”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Gorgeous, gaudy, spectacularly overstuffed"

"Red alert! Red alert! If you’re the kind of person who frets that jukebox musicals are taking over Broadway, prepare to tilt at the windmill that is the gorgeous, gaudy, spectacularly overstuffed Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Directed with opulent showmanship by Alex Timbers, this adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie may be costume jewelry, but its shine is dazzling."

"As Broadway shows become pricier and pricier, here is one that looks and feels expensive. It’s a very fancy heart-shaped box of Valentine’s Day chocolates, and though you know exactly what you’re going to get, each bite is still a little surprise: sometimes gooey, sometimes nutty, sometimes fruity, sometimes sweet, sometimes stale but mostly delicious. And if it’s any consolation to the haters, Moulin Rouge! may turn out to be the jukebox musical to end all jukebox musicals—if only because, among its particular type of jukebox musical at least, it’s hard to imagine how it can be topped."

Adam Feldman, TimeOut
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Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak Show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (2019)

★★★

"Jean Paul Gaultier’s autobiographical cabaret is wobbly in places but looks stunning"

"As a piece of catwalk spectacle, it’s a roaring success. As a cabaret, less so. Typically in cabaret, the costumes are the weakest element of the show. If you’ve got an eye for that sort of thing, it’s not uncommon to clock crooked seams and loose sequins as a singer belts her soul out, or as an aerialist hangs in midair."

Alyx Gorman, TimeOut
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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium (2019)

★★★

"The show has the emotional heft of a beetroot"

"Unfortunately the show has the emotional heft of a beetroot, and is so flyaway that some of the iffier stuff seems worse than it might in a work of greater substance."

"The Egypt scenes are also burdened with a pretty weird turn from Jason Donovan, in the cameo-ish role of the Pharaoh. For whatever reason, his vocals were almost indecipherable, meaning my companion (a heathen) was oblivious to what the Pharaoh’s dream actually was – a fairly major plot point that I had to explain in the pub after."

"It’s a kids’ show with some winning songs and the budget of a small nation state. Of course it’s fun. But there’s no great revelation in this revival – it’s just a 50-year-old musical coasting on bright tunes and arched eyebrows."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Wife at the Kiln Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"A quirky and clever homage to Ibsen's A Doll’s House"

"Adamson explores changing ideas of desire, prejudice and equality by imagining four distinct interpretations of Ibsen’s masterpiece. It’s funny, racy and clever. The very idea of theatre’s power and political substance is ripe for debate"

Henry Hitchings, TimeOut
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Wife at the Kiln Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Camp as Christmas"

"Samuel Adamson’s new play grabs at big, enduring questions about gender and queerness through the ages. It’s also, gloriously, often as camp as Christmas: think ‘The Hours’, but with killer putdowns."

Tom Wicker, TimeOut
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The Starry Messenger at the Wyndham's Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Dramas don’t come more midlife crisis-y than ‘The Starry Messenger’. There is a smart, poignant existential drama somewhere inside The Starry Messenger that struggles to escape the black hole of Lonergan’s indulgent impulses.”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2019)

★★★★★

"The triumph here belongs to director Jamie Lloyd. Directing Betrayal as the culmination of his Pinter at the Pinter season of all of the late playwright's one act plays, there have to be very few people alive - or indeed dead - who understand Pinter in the way Lloyd does, and it shows here."

"All three actors are great, especially Hiddleston's brightly brittle Robert and Ashton's Emma, who always seems to be presenting a bright facade and a more painful truth under that facade."

"But it's Lloyd's take that burns into the mind. It feel like after absorbing countless plays by Pinter about queasy power plays and shifting identities he has reached an understand of ‘Betrayal' that eludes most directors: that for all the chilliness of the verse and the tragic framing of a story about people who fall out of love and friendship."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre, (2019)

★★★

"This pie-tastic Broadway smash is big hearted but half-baked"

"Most of the pies in Diane Paulus's Broadway-conquering show are allegorical: their lurid lists of ingredients are flights of fancy in the mind of Katherine McPhee's titular heroine Jenna, a pie-making prodigy who dreams of escaping her abusive marriage."

"Adapted from Adrienne Shelly's cult 2007 indie flick of the same name, Waitress is a moving musical full of flawed, morally compromised characters of the sort you so rarely get in this type of glossy Broadway show. Everyone, on some level, lets us or themselves down: indeed, the big showstopper, "She Used to Be Mine" – delivered with exquisitely controlled sorrow by McPhee – is Jenna's bitter ode to her disappointment in herself."

"But then there's also the *other* Waitress. The silly Waitress that desperately wants you to have a laugh, and not let the serious ‘Waitress' harsh your buzz. That Waitress features a pie-based cunnilingus scene, a Civil-War-reenactment-based cunnilingus scene and the alarming light relief characters of Dawn – a nerdy waitress – and Ogie, the hyperactive loon who courts Dawn throughout the show."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre (2019)

★★★★★

"This 9/11-set musical is a gently miraculous masterpiece"

"Musicals don’t come much more low-key, wholesome or Canadian than ‘Come from Away’. Writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein cook up the straightforward world of the Newfoundland town of Gander using a very straightforward set of ingredients. The cast wear sensible shoes and lumberjack shirts. They tramp across a wood-decked stage that evokes the huge skies of their tiny island. They sing their way through a set of folk-tinged songs that tell stories of the five days after 9/11, when 38 planes made emergency landings on the island’s huge, disused airstrip. And it’s all totally, soul-feedingly wonderful."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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9 to 5 The Musical at the Savoy Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Dolly Parton's somewhat hallucinatory musical is a wilfully preposterous crowd-pleaser"

"The plot, when it shows up, is about as ridiculous as these women’s ultra-glam interpretation of ‘office wear’. Violet accidentally laces the bossman’s tea with rat poison, then all three trap him in bondage gear while they turn the office into an equal-pay paradise with an on-site crèche. Fortunately, no one even pretends to take it seriously"

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Gillian Anderson gives an incredible turn as Broadway actress Margo Channing"

[Gillian Andersons'] performance as ageing actress Margo Channing in Ivo van Hove’s stage version of ‘All About Eve’ is absolutely one of those ‘I was there’ moments."

"All About Eve works terrifically, in part because the cast and script are excellent, and in part because van Hove’s usual box of live video tricks is so apt for a story that always felt half film, half theatre."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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True West at the Vaudeville Theatre (2018)

★★★

"Even as they’re trashing the room, smashing objects and downing whiskey, the whole thing has the feel of an undergrad party where everyone’s pretending to ‘GO KERRRRAAAZZZY!!!’ in the most controlled way possible. And that’s never a story to remember."

Rosemary Waugh, TimeOut
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The Cher Show at the Neil Simon Theatre (2018)

★★★

"It falls a bit shy, but it’s strong enough"

'Directed by Jason Moore, the show whirls through six decades at a dizzying pace that disguises, up to a point, that it doesn’t have much to stand on. But unlike the songs in, say, Beautiful, Cher’s actual hits can’t support that task: They are likeable but skimpy pop ditties. Rick Elice’s script responds to this challenge by skipping past most of them quickly: We hear only snippets before the musical hurries on to some new montage, narration or set change. The show covers so much ground that it can’t dig into any one narrative, and although Cher is known for self-exposure, the storytelling is guarded.

'Yet it can’t be said that The Cher Show doesn’t provide what it promises: Cher, Cher and more Cher.'

'Like Cher herself, the musical has the virtue of never seeming to take itself too seriously: It’s a delivery system for fabulousness, right up to its Mamma Mia!–like finale, and as such it succeeds.'

Adam Feldman, TimeOut
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Fiddler On The Roof at the Meniere Chocolate Factory (2018)

★★★

"Trevor Nunn’s gloomy ‘Fiddler’ is classy but not always fun"

‘I realise there are some restrictions that apply when staging ‘Fiddler’, but this finely crafted revival feels both entertaining and somewhat lacking a sense of purpose.’

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Hole at the Royal Court Theatre (2018)

★★★

‘Ellie Kendrick’s fiery feminist cabaret feels slightly overshadowed by its directors, RashDash’

‘Generically speaking, we’re not exactly talking about a play: maybe ‘feminist cabaret’ would be a more accurate description. Certainly, it’s a pretty free-form type of night, which unfolds in a fizzbang of skits, songs and elaborate visual set-pieces rather than anything resembling a plot. And it’s powered by a terrific and gloriously frazzled group of female performers who tag-team their way through the scenarios presented with hurtling aplomb.‘

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Hadestown at the National Theatre (2018)

★★★★

"Gloriously offbeat musical"

"‘Hadestown’ is not perfect, but it is really, really good. The wonderfully diverse songs of Mitchell’s expanded, virtually sung-through soundtrack are the bedrock."
"A few bits and bobs don’t work, and it’s a shame Orpheus is one of them, but quibbling over such a joyously different musical feels pretty churlish. Just go along with it – and never look back."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Company at the Gielgud Theatre (2018)

★★★★★

"This production deserves to go down as a game-changer."

Rosalie Craig and Patti LuPone star in Marianne Elliott’s tour de force reworking of Sondheim’s sardonic musical.

Elliott’s production brilliantly underscores the existential nature of Sondheim’s lyrics and George Furth’s book.

Company is entertaining as hell. For starters, its cynical depiction of amoral New Yorkers screwing up their own lives is incredibly funny: ‘Seinfeld’ years before there was ‘Seinfeld’, and with much better songs.

Following the NT’s grandiose ‘Follies’ last year, this ‘Company’ is another easy case for the greatness of Sondheim, the man they literally call God. But a serious word for Marianne Elliott: she may not have killed Bobby-with-a-’y’ for good, but this production deserves to go down as a game-changer.”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Translations at the National Theatre (2018)

★★★★

"Colin Morgan and Ciarán Hinds star in an exquisitely brooding revival of Brian Friel’s masterpiece."

"Rickson’s revival is awash with talent, foremost Hinds as the shambolic but shamanic Hugh, and the charismatic Colin Morgan as Owen"

"There is one major directorial intervention, brief but unmissable. Right at the end, the backlights turn into watchtowers with black-clad, machine-gun-toting soldiers atop them, in a clear allusion to The Troubles. Is it a bit on the nose? Perhaps, but then, as Brexit threatens to drive a fresh wedge between Britain and Ireland, it would be a bit toothless not to make the allusion. In any case, Friel’s exquisite, diamond-cut play can most certainly take it."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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My Name Is Lucy Barton at the Bridge Theatre (2018)

★★★★

"Laura Linney is brilliant in her UK stage debut."

"I have not read Elizabeth Strout’s 2016 novel ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’. And I still find it difficult to imagine its shape from Rona Munro’s twisty, turny stage monologue adaptation that sometimes feels like an overambitious attempt at slimming down something much bigger. But at its best, it achieves a cryptic, feverish intensity."

"Smart lighting design from Peter Mumford maintains a dynamism and sense of shifting space in Richard Eyre’s brisk production, though I wasn’t really enamoured by Bob Crowley’s cheapo-looking projected backdrops. Really, though, it’s all about Linney, and she keeps the show on the road effortlessly."

"As is often the way with a visiting celebrity, I did daydream a little about what Linney might have done if not this. But it is a privilege to see her in action and you should try and do so in the brief time that she’s here.”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Killer Joe at the Trafalgar Studios (2018)

★★★

"Orlando Bloom is a decent baddie in this lurid, uneven thriller"

"Essentially a black comedy about the transactional nature of American society, Letts’s story is both gripping and fairly daft. Still, it’s undeniably pacey and involving, with great sound design from Edward Lewis and some really nifty flourishes from director Evans."

"As with the works of Sam Shepard or David Mamet, it’s easy enough to see why British directors are drawn to these hard, dark, action-packed, fairly short sorts of American play, which don’t really have a UK equivalent."

"And ‘Killer Joe’ certainly proves that – maddeningly youthful looks accepted – Bloom can give good villain. Still, given that his presence in the cast would get pretty much any play revived, I was frequently stuck thinking: Why this one? But there are enough lurid thrills here to send the casual theatregoer out into the night with the right sort of shiver.”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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Tina - The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre (2018)

★★★

"Adrienne Warren is magnificent"

"The tunes are great and Adrienne Warren is magnificent as Tina Turner, but is this too dark a story for a jukebox musical?"

"The erstwhile Anna Mae Bullock’s eventful life and beloved back catalogue are perfect subjects for adaptation. But too often Phyllida Lloyd’s production struggles to make a sensitive synthesis of the two."

"Where ‘Tina’ undoubtedly succeeds is in the casting of its lead. Broadway performer Adrienne Warren is virtually unknown over here, but it’s instantly apparent why she was tapped up for this. She doesn’t so much imitate Turner as channel her: her technically dazzling but achingly world-weary gale of a voice feels like it should be coming out of a woman decades, if not centuries, older. And while Warren doesn’t really look anything like Turner, she perfectly captures that leggy, rangy, in-charge physicality. From a musical standpoint, she virtually carries the show, singing nigh-on every song and even giving us an encore at the end.
By the time Warren busts out ‘Simply the Best’ and reprises of ‘Nutbush City Limits’ and ‘Proud Mary’ for the mini-concert at the end, the roof is suitably blown off."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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