Evening Standard

Evening Standard – London Theatre Reviews

London theatre reviews from UK newspaper The Evening Standard.

Here’s a selection of reviews of London shows from the theatre and arts critics at The Evening Standard.

The chief theatre critic at The Evening Standard is Nick Curtis.

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


Cruise at the Apollo Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

" Jack Holden’s ode to 80s queer culture is a one-man masterpiece"

"Jack Holden’s Cruise is a celebration of queer culture and a moving tribute to a generation lost to HIV"

"Holden, whose acting credits include War Horse and Ink, skillfully evokes the hidden underworld of London’s (second?) most notorious square mile - cocktails of drugs, illicit encounters in dubious locations and hedonistic partying - while simultaneously drawing an evocative picture of the powerful reality of a marginalised community, both terrified and stoic in the face of an unspoken crisis."

"Holden’s performance, directed by Bronagh Lagan, is captivating - whether he’s switching between accents, channelling his inner diva for a hysterical rendition of Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is, or dancing what he believes to be his last dance, he will have you laughing and crying in equal measure."

Yasmin Rufo, The Evening Standard
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The Trials at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★

"Intriguing climate change drama with activism at its roots"

"A courtroom drama with a difference, set in a not-so-distant dystopia hit by climate disaster"

"The premise is intriguing and dramatically rich: in a not-so-distant dystopia in the throes of climate disaster, retroactive laws about individual carbon limits and economic barriers have been imposed, leaving most ‘normal’ people open to blame and punishment."

"The young performers form a sturdy, impassioned ensemble and are well guided under Natalie Abrahami’s direction, but the debate-heavy, story-light format grows tiresome. The problem with plays about the climate – and anything issue-based – is that it can begin to feel like a lecture if there isn’t a human story at the heart to cling to. The Trials does introduce that emotive story, but too late for us to get invested."

Farah Najib, The Evening Standard
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All of Us at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★

"A compelling, rage-filled portrait of disabled life under austerity"

"Illuminating and sporadically witty look at being disabled in Tory Britain"

"This remains a compelling piece of work, in which a huge and theatrically under-represented sector of the British population – 14.6 million people according to Scope – takes centre stage. It has many laugh-out-loud lines. Martinez has written herself an excessively sympathetic lead role, and delivers some of the script’s best gags with due aplomb, but there is also something honest and exposing in the way she presents “wobbliness”, and a wide spread of the disabled experience, on stage. But to deny that this show could have been much, much better would be deeply patronising."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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South Pacific at the Sadler's Wells (2022)

★★★★

"Barely puts a foot, or a note, wrong"

"This revelatory production celebrates the lush score and clarifies the script’s attitude to race and exploitation"

"Ovenden brings a wonderful depth and richness to Emile’s songs, while Beck is a bright, breezy Nellie, necessarily superficial but with a voice like a bell. Ampil brings an edge of pathos to the pidgin-English Happy Talk, and shares the comic honours with Douggie McMeekin, winningly rogueish as the camp’s fixer Luther Billis. Houchen is terrific as the callow but steadfast Cable."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Tempest at the Shakespeare's Glob (2022)

★★★★

"Some rough edges but a sunny delight"

"Even Shakespeare is not immune to the Love Island aesthetic"

"Though stylised throughout, Sean Holmes’s staging presents the narrative as clearly as I’ve ever seen it: this is very much the island love story of Miranda and Ferdinand, as well as a rollicking comedy and a tale of revenge."

"Roberts’s fiery, leonine Prospero occasionally goes over the top, but his is a bold and literally exposing performance (thankfully his line “I will here discase me” is a cue for him to put more clothes on, rather than take more off). The scenes with the noblemen are laboured, though again, the narrative of betrayal and displacement is limpidly clear."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (2022)

★★

"Ponderously slow and woefully short on magic"

"The charms of this small-stage production evaporate in the West End"

"Samantha Womack is an icy, one-note witch while the giant puppet of Aslan the lion comprises only a head, musclebound front legs, and a jinking tail. It looks like a roadrunner on ‘roids. The third-billed wardrobe, however, is solidly impressive."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Sister Act at the Eventim Apollo (2022)

★★★

"Beverley Knight’s star power lifts hodgepodge of a show"

"This musical adaptation has warmth, joyous moments and flashes of wit, but there are multiple compromises beneath the happy-clappy surface glitz"

"Saunders’s dry, acerbic head nun is a useful counterbalance to Knight’s ebullience, even if she’s not used here to best advantage. And Settle, Rowe and Lizzie Bea as doubting young postulant Sister Mary Robert all give stunning vocal performances that transcend the limits of the characters they are given. I know: faint praise."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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101 Dalmatians at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"You’d be barking to miss it"

"Douglas Hodge’s version of the classic tale based on Zinnie Harris’s earlier adaptation is a hoot"

"Hodge and writer Johnny McKnight – working from an earlier stage adaptation by Zinnie Harris - update the story to contemporary London with mixed narrative results but to great comic effect. Those expecting a retread of the beloved 1961 Disney animation will be rudely jarred: there’s lots of bottom sniffing and fart gags here, plus an attempt to equate Cruella’s viciousness with the anti-immigration rhetoric of right-wing trolls."

"The puppies are simply but beautifully suggested by the cast manipulating yapping heads and wagging tails, and by four child actors playing escapees from Cruella’s lair, a nightmarish slaughterhouse sprouting hooks and blades. Parents Pongo and Perdita are given life by two operators each, their voices and back limbs supplied by Danny Collins and Emma Lucia. They’re elegant, eloquent creations, the doggy body language spot on, but it does sometimes look as if the rear operator is up to something bestial – and once you see that, you can’t unsee it."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Jack Absolute Flies Again at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Uproarious mix of filth, derring-do and romance"

"Updating Sheridan’s The Rivals to the Second World War brings the same ungoverned humour as Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors"

"Sheridan’s absurd web of deceptions and misunderstandings is here augmented by CGI ariel dogfights, a dazzling all-cast jitterbug number and Mrs Malaprop doing the splits while playing the ukulele. Alongside the laddish jokes and slapstick there’s a sly gag about the Bechdel test, which judges a drama’s feminist credentials. Designer Mark Thompson supplies a witty set of dolls’ house rooms unfolding on an English lawn."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre (2022)

★★

"Sorely disappointing. It’s not a bad show, just ponderous and hollow"

"Not even the combined talents of Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan can breathe life into this flaccid production of Shakespeare’s comedy, a rare misfire by director Simon Godwin."

"Parkinson’s withering basilisk gaze and Heffernan’s etiolated air of being about to trump someone’s anecdote, should make them ideal casting for the sparring, reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick. But together they have zero chemistry. Neither their animosity nor their ardour rings true."

" As an entry-level Shakespeare this production is probably fine. But for anyone who wants to see Parkinson, Heffernan or Godwin giving their best work, it’s sorely disappointing."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Cynthia Erivo: Legendary Voices at the Royal Albert Hall (2022)

★★★

"Big sounds kept the crowd happy"

"The award-winning actor and singer was backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, not always to positive effect"

"Erivo’s voice has a strong, feelingful quality, at times slightly nasal but always inflected by blues and gospel idioms."

"Erivo’s voice is big and emotive, and she has the wherewithal to turn down the dial to something intimate. Here, though, grand vocal gestures held sway, their impact only exaggerated by over-emphatic amplification. On the night, though, this was a minority view: the audience acclaim was all but unanimous in its enthusiasm."

Nick Kimberley, The Evening Standard
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Peaky Blinders: The Rise reviews at the Camden Garrison (2022)

★★★★

"I don’t think I’ve ever before been to an event where I’ve wanted to go again immediately, but Peaky Blinders: The Rise ticks that box."

"The show is so vast, so staggeringly full of things to do, that you could go a second time and have a completely different experience."

"There’s a remarkable amount of freedom – perhaps a bit too much. At any given time, you can choose to take part in any one of a dozen different things happening around the venue."

"the set is marvellous, and the attention to detail faultless. The Camden Garrison is the perfect venue, with the stables providing multiple nooks and crannies for people to gather and plot, as well as gobs of atmosphere."

Vicky Jessop, The Evening Standard
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Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"A glorious, glittering frippery of precision-tooled escapism"

"Thank goodness: this scintillating, toe-tapping, wisecracking Cole Porter musical from 1934 is back to save us from real life once again"

"Yes, Anything Goes is old fashioned. But it’s also radical, a celebration of freedom and hedonism after Prohibition and the Wall Street Crash"

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Patriots at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Witty, thrilling battle of political wills"

"Rupert Goold’s witty production about the oligarch who arguably created Putin and was then destroyed by him is sadly very timely"

"Tom Hollander gives a riveting performance."

"Hollander’s Berezovsky is horrible but glows with Mephistophelean charm"

"He’s matched by Will Keen as Putin"

"Rupert Goold’s boiled-down production showcases the gift for concision and emotional grounding that Morgan brought to The Crown, The Queen, and his New Labour succession drama The Deal."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Emilia Clarke is charismatic in her West End debut"

"Clarke is undeniably charismatic, but her presence is far from the only reason to grab a ticket. A universally strong cast act with their faces more than their bodies, bringing a cinematic intensity to this intense exploration of fame, failure, and heartbreak."

"Indira Varma is mesmerising"

"There’s something jarring about watching an actor deliver a bravura performance surrounded by the bored faces of their fellow cast members: it’s a poignant reminder that even the most moving work of art will leave some people cold."

"Lloyd’s stripped back and static production won’t please all comers. But it’s an exciting break with tradition, converting its star power into a darker, weirder, and more satisfying kind of energy."

Alice Saville, The Evening Standard
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Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the London Palladium (2022)

★★★★

"An extravagant, memorable update on a tale that’s as old as time, but as exhilarating as ever."

"Director Matt West throws the kitchen sink at ‘Be Our Guest’, which becomes a Hollywood Golden Age-style tapdancing extravaganza, full of highkicking ‘plates’ and giant champagne bottles that shower the audience with streamers."

Alice Saville, The Evening Standard
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Mad House at the The Ambassadors Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

"Both stars are brilliant"

"Pullman as Daniel is sallow and sunken, frequently wiping gunk from the corners of his mouth, every word an effort."

"Harbour gives a tender and hilarious performance as the long-suffering family pariah Michael, who openly wishes for his father to die sooner rather than later. Both actors have exquisite comic timing, carefully nurtured by director Moritz Von Stuelpnagel to illuminate the deliciously dark comedy of Theresa Rebeck’s script. Stuelpnagel and Rebeck are regular collaborators, and the creative chemistry is palpable."

"When an audible gasp ripples across the audience at the mere snap of a pencil, it’s clear that their production has us right in the palm of its hand."

Farah Najib, The Evening Standard
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That Is Not Who I Am at the Royal Court Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"‘Dave Davidson’ play is enjoyably slippery"

"Weird marketing ploys aside, this play on the ambiguity of truth is pleasingly hard to pin down"

"The play is an enjoyably slippery, enthralling piece of work, albeit with a tiresome metatheatrical framework."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Jitney at the Old Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Tinuke Craig’s production of August Wilson’s classic fairly crackles"

"Superb performances drive this thrilling slice of history that resonates powerfully today"

"The accents are good, the fashions spot on (mid-level afros and sheepskin jackets: it’s cold in Pittsburgh). Wilson tries to give everyone a place in the sun but doesn’t entirely succeed: Tony Marshall is winning as alcoholic driver Fielding but his backstory feels like an echo of Becker’s. Nnabiko Ejimofor’s numbers runner Shealy merely adds a dash of illicitness, and some great dance moves."

"This is a stunning, richly textured piece of work, both particular and universal."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Gunpowder Plot at the Tower Vaults London (2022)

★★★★

"This VR/IRL show is pretty astonishing"

"This isn’t a museum, so to any reserved Brits shy of getting involved, look away now. The cast interact directly with you, asking you to decipher codes, duck to get past invisible guards and hide in cubby holes to avoid being spotted by priest hunters."

"The staging, though, is immaculate: the room of a Jacobean house, for example, looks disturbingly realistic, as do the clever sound effects that make you think that you’re one step away from being caught by Protestant zealots."

Vicky Jessop, The Evening Standard
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Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) at the Park Theatre (2022)

★★

"Slapdash New Labour musical feels like a student drama group spoof"

"Harry Hill’s musical spoof about Britain’s most successful – and most reviled – Labour PM is packed with witty lyrics. It features one absolute belter of a song, and a ton of bad-taste gags about Princess Diana’s death, 9/11 and the Iraq War. All stuff I would usually love."

"It’s also wilfully slapdash; full of mugging, bovine hoofing and terrible wigs: the sort of thing you’d expect from a precocious student drama group. Without Hill’s name attached as writer – the heavy lifting of the music and lyrics were handled by his long-term collaborator Steve Brown – I doubt it would have found a stage-slot in London, let alone a celeb-stuffed crowd like last night’s."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Britannicus at the Lyric Hammersmith (2022)

★★

"Rarely revived for evident good reason"

"Some decent performances can’t drag any contemporary relevance out of this talky French classic"

"Fair play to the Lyric and Banerjee: it’s a bold and admirable move to tackle Racine, who’s rarely done. And to be honest, if this production had been staged by a European guru at the Edinburgh Festival two decades ago, it would have been feted. But all the way through I kept thinking – why here, why now, why make this more difficult than it already is?"

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York's Theatre (2022)

★★

"Adams’ West End debut is muted and unconvincing"

"Jeremy Herrin’s non-naturalistic staging emphasises the radicalism of Williams’s play when it was first staged in 1944 but I’ve always found it mawkish and humble-braggy. "

"Amanda and Laura are fictionalised renderings of his mother and fragile sister."

"Under the guise of cringing apology he lampoons the former and slowly crucifies the latter.

"Though Williams wrote some of 20th century theatre’s finest tragic heroines, there’s an unpleasant undertow of misogyny to many of his texts, and this is one of the worst."

"Though I don’t like this play, I can see Herrin’s production working in a small, studio setting, where the younger actors would shine. But as a West End star vehicle, it barely passes its MOT."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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ABBA Voyage at the ABBA Arena (2022)

★★★★★

"I literally could not believe my eyes"

"Light years ahead of any of that hologram nonsense, this show really does look like the future of music"

"If only it were acceptable to begin reviews with the brain exploding emoji."

"It was when the group were life-size that they convinced completely."

David Smyth, The Evening Standard
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Legally Blonde The Musical at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2022)

★★★

"A fizzy, fun musical night out reinvented for 2022"

"This fizzy, fun, candyfloss-pink musical night out carries a message of tolerance and inclusion."

"Though reimagined and reinvented for contemporary sensibilities, the show sometimes falls foul of current events"

"But none of this is Moss’s fault and the exuberance of her production largely steamrollers over quibbles."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The House of Shades at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★

"Anne-Marie Duff can’t save this baggy production"

"Beth Steel’s much-anticipated, much-delayed play is a confused mix of family saga, melodrama and political screed."

"Duff’s expressive face and skittish emotions are as watchable as ever, and McQuarrie brings neat, beaten-down understatement to Alastair."

"The cast is strong. But the play is weak, and overlong at almost three hours, and the director, McIntyre, seems to have just waved it all through without addressing the problems."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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My Fair Lady  (2022)

★★★★

"Fresh and sparky, with a bona fide star in Amara Okereke"

"Bartlett Sher’s production repackages this witty, well-crafted piece of work for a new generation"

"[Amara is] effortlessly clear, full and expressive singing voice and can be meltingly soft, blazingly furious and beautifully still. She owns the Coliseum stage, and the role."

" Malcolm Sinclair was born to play Higgins’ benign, drifty compatriot Colonel Pickering. Stephen K Amos brings a comedian’s timing and delivery, if not the finest singing voice, to the part of Eliza’s dustman dad, Alfred. And here is Vanessa Redgrave, frail but game, snipping off devastating apercus as Higgins’s mum."

"That Eliza is black reinforces the class divisions between her and Higgins when they are together, but only subconsciously, as there’s colourblind casting of proles and aristocrats throughout, like in Bridgerton. And as with Bridgerton, you wonder why someone hasn’t done this before."

"My Fair Lady is so witty and well-crafted it’s hard to do a duff version, given enough resources, and this show has plenty. But it’s harder still to make it feel fresh. Sher manages it and has surely also turned Okerere from a promising actress into a bona fide star."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Grease at the Dominion Theatre (2022)

★★

"It’s not the one that I want"

"Grim is the word. This version of the beloved 50s-set high school musical has a hard carapace of professionalism but underneath it’s colourless, charmless, and emptily energetic. The love story of bad boy Danny and goody two-shoes Sandy is insipid, and swamped by a tide of teen-drama clichés. The familiar songs still stand up, but only a few of the big numbers – Greased Lightning, Hopelessly Devoted to You and Hand Jive (here sounding alarmingly like ‘hand-job’) – have real vocal power or choreographic verve."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Oklahoma! at the Young Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Stripped back version is the best revival yet"

"After triumphing at the Tonys, this pared-back production comes to London"

"A mixed-heritage cast in modern-ish costumes share a starkly-lit plywood set - suggesting a dancehall but ringed with rifles - with both the band and the audience. Some idiot culture-warrior will doubtless call it WOKE-lahoma which is a) stupid, given that native Americans are still airbrushed out of the story and b) spoiled as a joke now, because I made it first."

"Overall, it’s a stunning reinvention by directors Daniel Fish and Jordan Fein, although their radicalism very occasionally feels laboured. Similarly, Terese Wadden’s costumes skilfully blend modern attire and 70s Western pastiche garb, until the big dance scene, where she puts the women in hideous mini-crinis, that’d be laughed off the floor of most modern line-dancing clubs."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

"13 years on, time has only deepened Jez Butterworth’s modern classic"

"You could watch Rylance’s performance every night and still find new dimensions"

"Rooster is a charismatic, anarchic spirit: a perma-drunk yarn-spinner who supplies drugs and dance music to teenagers at his woodland caravan in Wiltshire. If anything, age has deepened the grain of Rylance’s overwhelming performance. And the questions Butterworth asked about national identity back in 2009 have only become more urgent."

"There’s also a freewheeling delight in language and storytelling throughout, Byron unspooling tall tales about his being born complete with a cloak, a dagger and a bullet between his fully-formed teeth, or being kidnapped by four Nigerian traffic wardens in Marlborough. In one early scene Rylance and a hangdog Mackenzie Crook – returning to the role of wannabe DJ Ginger, all the more sad now for being middle aged – delightedly bat the word “fracas” around like a shuttlecock."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Prima Facie at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Jodie Comer is better than we’ve ever seen her in West End debut"

"The Killing Eve star is what we’re here to see in this one-woman show about a barrister who is sexually assaulted - and she delivers"

"Killing Eve star Jodie Comer absolutely storms the West End in this one-woman show, playing a barrister specialising in sexual assault cases who is herself then raped. Her working-class character Tessa Ensler starts off as an exuberant ball of energy, swaggering and shimmying around a set lined with legal files, glorying in her ability to navigate the hierarchy and the technical nuances of law."

"It’s an extraordinarily gutsy and rich performance by Comer in only her second ever stage role – the first was in Scarborough 13 years ago, when she was 16 - and it confirms her as a star. Suzie Miller’s script is a great vehicle rather than a truly great play, however - shrewd and economical in its analysis of how the system treats assault survivors, but schematic in its plotting."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Marys Seacole at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★

"Muddled drama takes too long to make its point"

"Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play has a compelling and topical premise - but the result is haphazard"

"Exploring a pioneering black woman’s experience of working in healthcare is not only a compelling premise but a topical one. But this play, unfortunately, failed to ignite. Seacole’s story probably deserved greater care and respect than this haphazard dramatisation."

Lizzie Akita, The Evening Standard
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The Burnt City at the One Cartridge Place (2022)

★★★★

"Punchdrunk’s return is simply astonishing"

"Punchdrunk’s first major venture in London for eight years, inspired by the Trojan War, will blow you away"

"There’s an earnestness here that thankfully stops just short of absurdity. I slightly resent the way immersive theatre relies on FOMO, the promise that something more exciting is in the next room. And I wonder where spectating shades into voyeurism: quite often here masked crowds cluster around women changing their tops. But chiefly I was overawed by the rich, vivid, momentous achievement of Barratt, Doyle and their cast and cohorts here. Simply astonishing."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Scandaltown at the Lyric Hammersmith (2022)

★★

"Mike Bartlett’s social pastiche is showy but insubstantial"

"This contemporary Restoration comedy is one of Bartlett’s sketchier works"

"It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times but its discussions of freedom, liberty and responsibility – not to mention some last-minute gags about partygate - are schematic. It feels like Bartlett - whose blank verse drama The 47th, about a Trump run in 2024, opened at the Old Vic last week - wrote it to prove he could once again do something that no one else is doing."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Zorro The Musical at the Charing Cross Theatre (2022)

"Zorro? More like zero"

"This spoofy, wrong-headed version of the story of dashing vigilante Zorro should never have got this far"

"There’s some professionalism to the way Zorro the Musical, a spoofy version of the Californian swordsman’s story is executed. But how something so conceptually stupid and wrong-headed got this far is a mystery."

"Phoebe Panaretos saunters effectively through the action, flashing eyes and thighs as Roma temptress Inez. She delivers the Gipsy King earworms with aplomb and has some funny scenes with Marc Pickering’s comically spineless Sergeant Garcia. These moments aren’t great in themselves. They’re overacted and overblown. But still better than the mix of triviality and honking self-importance that makes up the rest of the show. Zorro? Zero, more like."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The 47th at the The Old Vic (2022)

★★★

"A hideously transformative turn from Bertie Carvel as Trump"

"Mike Bartlett’s blank-verse drama about Trump running for president (again) is eloquent and clever, but has surprisingly little to say"

"You can’t fault the ambition or the sheer craft of Mike Bartlett’s blank-verse drama about a Trump rerun against Kamala Harris in 2024. But despite an astonishing, hideously transformative central performance from Bertie Carvel as the tangerine narcissist, the show lands disappointingly."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Anyone Can Whistle at the Southwark Playhouse (2022)

"Oafish production justifies the neglect of this Sondheim musical"

"Unless you’re a bereaved Sondheim completist, give this dud a full body-swerve"

"The show is staged traverse-style on a low catwalk between two banks of seats, and Natalie Pound’s five-strong band frequently drowns out the cast. A shame because Chrystine Symone, as Fay, has a fine voice, and Alex Young as Cora clearly has good pipes too as well as comic flair. But they are given insufficient direction, flailing for attention in a sea of crassness, along with newcomer Jordan Broatch’s willowy, simpering Hapgood."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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To Kill A Mockingbird at the Gielgud Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

"All rise for this powerfully uplifting theatrical event"

"Rafe Spall brings a vitality to the role of Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s fresh adaption of Harper Lee’s classic novel"

"All rise for a magnificent Mockingbird. Sheer emotion and moral force make this Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel about race, community and family a powerfully uplifting theatrical event."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Straight Line Crazy at the Bridge Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Ralph Fiennes taps into his inner Pacino"

"David Hare’s play about New York city planner Robert Moses doesn’t represent the best work of anyone involved"

"A barnstorming, scenery-chewing Ralph Fiennes anchors David Hare’s new play about Robert Moses, who created parks for New York’s poor in the 1920s and by 1955 was ready to sacrifice Manhattan to the car. It’s a polished, witty, impeccably researched work but overly reliant on placing obstacles – plutocrats, politicians, colleagues, activists – in front of the Moses bulldozer. Nicolas Hytner’s production is by turns energetically brash and terribly baggy. Was the autocratic Moses a hero or villain? That’s up to us."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Human Voice at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★

"Ruth Wilson shouldn’t have answered the phone to Ivo van Hove"

"Not even Ruth Wilson’s limpid talent can breathe life into this dated, 70-minute solo show, in which a woman goes to pieces discussing the end of an affair with her unheard lover over the phone."

"This splendidly truthful actress handles most of the script’s emotional hairpin turns with poise and nuance. But she’s battered on one side by the heavy-handed directorial conceits and on the other by a script - also adapted by van Hove - that clunks along like a Model T Ford."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey star in stylish revival about sex and self-identity"

"Mike Bartlett’s Cock gets the, um, sensitive but assertive handling it needs from Marianne Elliott’s all-star production"

"Marianne Elliott’s meticulous, eloquently stylised revival features a cast whose star appeal is matched by their impressive stage credentials. Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey is John – indecisive, vain and, yes, a bit of a dick. Taron ‘Rocketman/Kingsman’ Egerton is his wounded boyfriend M. The great Jade Anouka is the woman, W. It’s an emotionally charged piece despite the lack of character names, the skimpy backstories, and a physical language that owes more to contemporary dance than naturalistic theatre."

"Bailey brings physical precision, depth and occasional roaring fury to the blank canvas of John. Egerton, who fainted in the show’s first preview and was replaced by an understudy, has a coruscating, waspish anger as M, which eventually mutates into a depiction of real hurt. Daniels is dependably great. But for me, the acting honours are stolen by Anouka, whose constant, subtle emotional retrenchments reflect the fact that W is the only woman on stage, judged by three men."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Collaboration at the The Young Vic (2022)

★★★★

"Gee, wow - Basquiat and Warhol play brings fireworks to the stage"

"Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope match each other in brilliance in this study of art, commerce and identity"

"There’s a synergy here that director Kwame Kwei-Armah usefully cultivates: Bettany returning to theatre after 25 years, fourteen of them spent in Marvel’s Avengers franchise; Warhol returning to paint after 25 years of parties, gossip and lucrative printmaking; Pope, nominated for two separate Tony Awards in his first year on Broadway and catapulted to success like Basquiat. The parallels aren’t exact, but there’s both an empathy and a tension between the actors and their roles."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre (2022)

★★★

"The big numbers are ravishing"

"Alex Timbers’ production excels when it seduces the eye, not the mind or the heart: Derek McLane’s sets and Catherine Zuber’s costumes are essays in polychromatic fabulousness. There are more fishnets here than in the entire British trawler industry."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Bring It On: The Musical at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (2021)

★★★

"This cast are quadruple threats"

"There’s a puppyish energy to this early musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda, with a brilliant performance from Amber Davies"

"In between penning In The Heights and Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote the music and lyrics to this show, and a lot of his hip hop-inflected musical trademarks are here. But they’re part of an impressive but slightly soulless package that’s worlds away from the warm, authentic worlds he creates."

"Still, however hollow its story might feel, it’s hard to beat this musical for puppyish energy and teenage (high) kicks. Fans of shows like Six and Heathers are bound to join its immaculately-choreographed army of cheerleaders."

Alice Saville, The Evening Standard
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Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre) (2021)

★★★★★

"Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley dazzle in a transformative show"

"Wow. Rebecca Frecknall’s new revival of Kander and Ebb’s musical set in interwar Berlin is a stunning, breathlessly exciting theatrical happening. It feels loyal to the 1966 original yet astonishingly contemporary, and properly immersive. The Playhouse Theatre has been reconfigured by the designer Tom Scutt as the Kit Kat Club circa 1929, with pre-show performances in the bars and food and drink served at tables surrounding a circular, central stage. By the looks of it, the hugely expensive, three-course menu package isn’t worth it. The show emphatically is."

"In this fine balance of spectacle and grit, decadence and despair, Frecknall proves herself one of our most exciting directors, and she draws superb performances from all involved."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Best of Enemies at the The Young Vic (2021)

★★★★

"Dynamic new play from James Graham deals in arresting ideas"

"James Graham traces the culture wars back to a series of 1968 TV debates - and the parallels are undeniable"

"In this stimulating, freewheeling new play, James Graham traces today’s culture wars back to the TV debates between conservative commentator William F Buckley Jr and the patrician, liberal gay writer Gore Vidal during the Republican and Democrat conventions of 1968. If the political parallels between then and now sometimes feel too on the nose – concerns about social justice, or freedom to protest - it’s probably contemporary reality that’s at fault rather than Graham and his director, Jeremy Herrin."

"Harewood is tremendous as Buckley, finding a dignified core beneath the man’s posturing and extravagant facial tics. There’s a frisson when the character interviews Enoch Powell about race, but you pretty soon forget about skin colour. Charles Edwards’s Vidal, meanwhile, is a monster of silky complacency whose “waspish spontaneity [is] always rehearsed”. He’s also deliciously flustered and inarticulate when Buckley finally finds his weak spot."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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West Side Story  (2021)

★★★★★

"This glorious remake really sings...
This loving homage to the original film is a dazzling triumph"

"A brilliant cast, led by Baby Driver’s Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler, ensure the doomed romance between New Yorkers Tony and Maria is sweet, sweaty and searing. The Romeo and Juliet-inspired young couple are caught up in a racially-motivated turf war between two street gangs, the Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Maria’s brother Bernardo (David Alvarez), and the Jets, led by Tony’s best-friend, self-styled “American”, Riff, (Mike Faist). I started crying at the end of a certain “rumble” and though the film’s stuffed with wit, I more or less didn’t stop."

"In case you didn’t know, the lyrics to all the songs were written by Stephen Sondheim. Damn, they’ve aged well (Gee Officer Krupke sounds particularly spry). Sondheim died last week - he may be gone, but he’s never seemed so current. A pied piper, he just keeps leading new generations into the dangerous but glorious world of snark.

And let’s give Shakespeare and Jerome Robbins (who conceived the original show) a pat on the back for generating such juicy and malleable myths. A big cheer for them all. Hooray! Or should I say, ¡Hurra!"

Charlotte O'Sullivan, The Evening Standard
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The Book of Dust at the Bridge Theatre (2021)

★★★

"A galloping adventure of wonder and confusion"

"Philip Pullman’s prequel to His Dark Materials makes for a breathlessly hectic jumble of events on stage"

"Even though playwright Bryony Lavery has streamlined, clarified and occasionally improved the story, this remains a breathlessly hectic jumble of events, overlaid with a half-scientific, half-mystical humanist message. "

"I suspect kids taken to see this show will gulp down its copious pleasures and skim over the difficult, grown-up bits. I left it, as I often do with Pullman’s work, simultaneously elated and deflated, exhausted from chasing one narrative high after another."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the Duke of York's Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Magic in the West End"

"It’s a lovely, heartfelt show with a surging narrative thrust, a macabre undertow and some brilliantly evoked, seriously scary monsters. I was captivated."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) at the Criterion Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"This anarchic Austen reboot will make you happy"

"This sweary, anarchic reboot of Pride and Prejudice by Scottish writer Isobel McArthur, in which an all-female cast of five play all of the characters, pretty much nails it. It’s a joy whether you’re a paid-up Janeite or not."

"McArthur (who also stars and co-directs) offers us a version of this classic that is brilliantly blunt and wears its feminism on its sleeve. And… it’s got KARAOKE"

"With its own cheeky charm, it throws everything at the wall. Not everything sticks: more could be made of the neat framing device that appoints the novel’s unseen servants as our storytellers"

"It’s the kind of warm, big-hearted show the West End needs"

Jessie Thompson, The Evening Standard
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Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical at the Lyric Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Arinzé Kene is a knockout. This is a joyful night out that also feels like an important cultural event"

"'My name is Arinzé Kene and I will be Bob Marley,' and with those words, this stellar performer ascends to the West End leading man status that he has long deserved."

"In the closing moments, it feels like this isn’t just a joyful night out – it’s a major and important cultural event."

Jessie Thompson, The Evening Standard
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Back to the Future at the Adelphi Theatre (2021)

"A near-seamless slice of escapist entertainment...
Even the time machine’s a triumph in this larky musical version of the 1985 cult movie classic"

"Visually, the show’s a treat too, with lots of little in-jokes and exuberant swing-style dance routines, including one that’s a flat-out homage to that other 1980s teen classic, Footloose. And let’s be frank: the biggest anxiety was how they’d do the DeLorean, since cars on stage tend to be stationary or ponderous. Happily, the time machine is a triumph of theatrical engineering, instantly recognisable but with an overhaul and an upgrade. Much like the musical itself. Go, enjoy."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Frozen The Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (2021)

★★★

"This long-awaited West End stage version feels lukewarm"

"The themes of empowerment and acceptance remain strong but the story was always weak. And despite several new songs, Michael Grandage’s production strives to emulate the film without adding substantial theatrical oomph. Choreographer Rob Ashford contributes witty dances for couples but generically whirling Ruritanian crowds. Let it go? I probably could."

"At least it goes at a cracking pace. In the first few minutes impossibly cute young incarnations of the sisters rip through four songs, Elsa accidentally injures Anna with her ice magic, and they lose both regal parents. Before you know it, adult Anna falls for minor Prince Hans on first meeting and Elsa flees her coronation when her magic reveals itself, scattering dagger-like icicles as she goes."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new take is a hilarious triumph"

"Laurence Connor’s production mixes panto-style archness with professional West End glitz and springs its big surprise in Act Two. At the ball, the stage and several rows of the stalls audience start to revolve, thanks to Lloyd Webber’s lockdown refurbishment of this theatre. It’s a magical moment. There’s another delightful surprise later that’s crucial to the plot and that has frankly been a long time coming in a major West End musical."

"Fletcher rightly gets the best tunes, from the anthemic Bad Cinderella to the plangent I Know I Have a Heart. But Lloyd Webber delights in riffling through musical genres. Muscular courtiers work out to the martial thump of Man’s Man. There’s a sly Parisian wink in the accordion-backed I Know You, where Rebecca Trehearn’s dizzy but dangerous queen and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt – huskily channeling the likes of Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford as Cinderella’s Stepmother - recognise each other as social climbers. Theirs is a great comic double-act."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Jersey Boys at the Trafalgar Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Jersey Boys are back in the West End and it’s the show we need"

"Jersey Boys is back in town and oh, what a show it is. The story of four ordinary men from New Jersey and their rise to fame as the Four Seasons returns to London, four years after its last West End run."

Lizzie Akita, The Evening Standard
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Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"A spoonful of sugar is just what we need right now"

"The blockbuster revival of the 2004 Mary Poppins musical is a highly polished piece of entertainment, hugely uplifting and cheerful, with an undertow of melancholy and the occasional baggy moment."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Phantom of the Opera at the Her Majesty's Theatre (2021)

"I take it all back - this West End spectacular more than deserves its classic status"

"Phantom avoidant Katie Rosseinsky faces her fears - it turns out the most Andrew Lloyd Webber of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals is... scarily good"

"From the moment that the huge chandelier went careening from the stage up onto the ceiling as that organ riff played, I was hooked on the high-camp melodrama. This is a show that makes no apologies about being bombastic and revels in being extra, from the pyrotechnics to the eye-catching costumes to the jaw-dropping ensemble numbers."

Katie Rosseinsky, The Evening Standard
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Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre (2021)

★★★★★

"You’ll get a kick out of this dazzling Cole Porter revival"

"Tony Award winner Sutton Foster shines in this terrific production at the Barbican - surrender is the only option"

"Her irresistible performance, alongside rock-solid turns from Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal and Gary Wilmot, some bright young romantic leads and a very tight ensemble, ensures a terrific show. A breathtaking, tap-dancing rendition of the title song, bringing act one to a close, also brought a packed Barbican to its feet."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre (2020)

★★★★

"Revamped musical opens at London's Sondheim Theatre with added grit"

"All in all, Les Mis and the refurbished Sondheim feel fit for purpose for the next decade or three."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Cirque Du Soleil - Luzia at the Royal Albert Hall (2020)

★★★★

"Cirque du Soleil’s ability to frame boggling physical feats against images of great beauty proves undimmed in their 30th year visiting London"

"In Luzia, the company throttles back on the winsome clowning that used to be so irksome in their shows.”

“Humans flinging themselves from one chair-swing to another showcase not just physical but extreme mental dexterity. Shelli Epstein, who opens the show running down a travelator with butterfly wings billowing up into the roof, ends it with a series of impeccably precise somersaults that take her almost as high — you’ll believe a woman can fly.”

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Magic Goes Wrong at the Vaudeville Theatre (2020)

★★★

"Forget subtlety — it’s all about the bants"

"Many of the illusions remain deeply impressive even when exposed. Otherwise it’s the same Mischief mix of shouty comedy, slapstick and humiliation, for actors and audience. There are some great lines and laugh-out-loud moments, but it would be easier to find an ace in a rigged deck than a trace of subtlety here. The overall tone is lazy, matey, let’s-have-a-laugh bants. Mischief is so adept at developing rapport with an audience, it works anyway. As Paul Daniels used to say: that’s magic."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre (2019)

★★★★★

"James McAvoy gives a stunningly powerful performance in this piece of pure theatre, the most breathtakingly exciting show in London right now"

“Lloyd’s production feels thrillingly reflective of contemporary London, yet also true to the Parisian original, and there is even a sly reference to ‘cultural appropriation’ to acknowledge its white creators’ use of street slang, hip-hop stylings and occasional beatboxing. Cyrano’s defining characteristic is panache, and oh boy, this production has it by the bucketload.”

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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& Juliet at the Shaftesbury Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Camp and unsubtle but this glittery fever dream of a musical shines"

"The plot and message of female empowerment are pretty thin but this jukebox musical is an absolute blast and features a powerful turn from Miriam-Teak Lee."

"Each number is staged with frantic energy and laser precision by director Luke Sheppard and choreographer Jennifer Weber."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Noel Coward Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Sam Tutty shines in bold Broadway musical export that mines new terrain"

"There’s a reason why Broadway critics and audiences love Dear Evan Hansen: it features real relationships and real problems as well as virtual ones, dramatising the agony of parents as well as the angst of teenagers. The score and lyrics have a clean-cut simplicity and a lack of bombast."

"Michael Greif’s production feels as if it’s been transported lock, stock and barrel from Manhattan, right down to the eyes-aloft, from-the guts-style of singing, which always looks odd and overdone in London. Ultimately, this is a high school drama about stalkers, trolls and those who piggyback on tragedy. Which may be a tough sell for a London musical audience."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Groan Ups at the Vaudeville Theatre (2019)

★★

"Overwhelmed by frantic histrionics and bawling, it felt like being in detention"

“What’s worse than a stage full of screaming children? A stage full of screaming adults pretending to be screaming children, that’s what.”

“It’s crudely funny at times but overwhelmed by frantic histrionics and bawling”

“How funny you find these tots will depend on how much you enjoy phony baby talk, poo jokes, and the molestation of hamsters”

“Jonathan Sayer’s Simon is so gratingly whiny I wanted to bully him myself.”

“The verdict on this first attempt has to be: could do better.”

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Lungs at the The Old Vic (2019)

★★★★

"Matt Smith and a luminous, mercurial Claire Foy give tour de force performances"

“Duncan Macmillan’s play couldn’t be further from the world of their previous pairing in The Crown: it’s just the two of them as dressed-down urban strivers, on a nearly bare stage with an audience on all sides for 90 minutes, charting emotional peaks, troughs and plateaus with magnetic immediacy.”

“The script is often hilarious, frequently poignant, but also curiously old-fashioned in its portrayal of gender roles. Director Matthew Warchus orchestrates Macmillan’s overlapping, unfiltered dialogue masterfully. The scene where the two talk frankly about sex while trying to get pregnant is a riot.”

“The play tails off into a perfunctory epilogue that brings the couple’s story to a conclusion. Again, it doesn’t matter. Those lucky enough to secure a ticket to Lungs can revel in an acting masterclass from a perfect stage partnership. .”

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg at the Trafalgar Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Pin-sharp revival is as heartbreaking and funny as ever"

"Peter Nichols’s play...remains heartbreaking and savagely funny today."

"Simon Evans’s pin-sharp revival features a bravura performance from Toby Stephens and a positively radiant one from Claire Skinner. "

"(Toby Stephens) shows us the fear beneath Bri’s showy bravado and is lacerating in the final scenes"

"(Claire Skinner) shines, making a saintly character magnetic and witty"

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Solaris at the Lyric Hammersmith (2019)

★★★★

"Existential angst and visits from the dead in riveting sci-fi play"

“Deeply thoughtful story of space exploration”

“Greig and director Matthew Lutton foster a mood of looming existential anxiety: you ache to see what will happen next”

“A homily about humanity’s destructiveness is well delivered by Jade Ogugua and Fode Simbo as Kelvin’s unhappy comrades, but strikes a rare bum note.”

“I’d urge fans of sci-fi and of vibrant theatre to head to Hammersmith at warp speed.”

“David Greig’s haunting take on the seminal sci-fi novel about an inscrutable living planet”

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium (2019)

★★★★

"Laurence Connor breathes zesty new life into those potent, familiar songs"

"Director Laurence Connor breathes zesty new life into those potent, familiar songs, and in newcomer Jac Yarrow has found a man with formidable pipes and enough charm to imbue the blank lead character with some personality."

"The real motor of the evening is Sheridan Smith, returning to the stage for the first time since 2016. As the narrator, the former Evening Standard Theatre Award-winner takes a series of hilarious cameo roles, belting out songs and hoofing through dance routines with a huge grin."

"This musical was never subtle. The plot barely fills the first number, "Any Dream Will Do", and Joseph himself is really irritating. The songs tick off musical genres — country and western, rock, chanson, calypso — as they go. Rice's lyrics and Lloyd Webber's melodies are deceptively simple but worm their way into your brain. The lack of pretension is the key. Laurence Connor's production celebrates the absurdity of somersaulting kids wearing biblical beards, and a Hebrew confronted with a Parisian dance routine moaning: "I said Canaan, not Can-Can!"

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Starry Messenger at the Wyndham's Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Broderick brings a mix of quizzical humour and gentle despair" But it's hard to be sure what the play is really about, and the languid approach makes for three hours of nebulous theatre."

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Tom Hiddleston's poise and sensitivity impress in elegant Pinter finale"

"It's Tom Hiddleston's poise and sensitivity that impress the most. There's a brilliant scene that demonstrates his usually under-exploited flair for comedy: toying with Jerry over lunch in an Italian restaurant, he humiliates the feckless waiter, attacks his prosciutto as though fighting a duel, and gulps white wine like a bandit. Yet he's also genuinely moving, and when he weeps his eyes and cheeks glisten with tears. "

"Everything in Jamie Lloyd's minimalist staging feels precisely calibrated. Whenever two of the characters are conversing, the third lingers in the background. Silences are extended, so that we concentrate on the eloquence of gestures and facial expressions. The result is a sense of Robert, Emma and Jerry as a trio engaged in a haunting dance, and at times it's as if the three of them have merged into one."

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre (2019)

★★★★

"Touching tale of kindness in face of terror"

"The cosy glow of kindness isn’t a fashionable subject in theatre. But this folksy Canadian musical by Irene Sankoff and David Hein makes no apology for its affirmative message, telling the true and touching story of how the Newfoundland town of Gander embraced 7,000 strangers after their planes were diverted there amid the chaos of 9/11."

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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9 to 5 The Musical at the Savoy Theatre (2019)

★★

"It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it"

" There’s not enough real firepower here or in Patricia Resnick’s script; Jeff Calhoun’s production chugs along on its monumental office set, but it’s increasingly hard to care whether poor Violet will ever stop being overlooked for an overdue promotion."

Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard
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All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Gillian Anderson makes a cool, contained Margo Channing"

"this reinterpretation misses a lot of its humour, charm and bite. It’s clever and technically accomplished, but between its bracing opening and absorbing final section it doesn't have enough spark. "

"Anderson is cool and contained, more likely to seem brittle than ferocious. This means Margo’s classic line ‘Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night’ lands without much dash."

"James captures the cloying sincerity that masks Eve’s hunger for fame."

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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True West at the Vaudeville Theatre (2018)

★★★★

"Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn electrify in tale of brothers grim"

"Playing against type, Harington brings a neurotic intensity to neat and finicky screenwriter Austin."

"The play itself can feel like a series of bizarre riffs, but is packed with similarly outrageous moments."

"The first half belongs to Flynn, whose slow movements and rasping drawl give the wild, wandering Lee real menace. It’s a performance that flirts with overripeness, but there’s a strong sense of his feral charisma, particularly when he notes that most murders occur within the supposedly comforting framework of family."

"Gradually their roles reverse — each man trying on the other’s personality like a new suit that fits surprisingly well — and the second half is Harington’s"

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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Fiddler On The Roof at the Meniere Chocolate Factory (2018)

★★★★

"Nunn’s interpretation is thoughtful, warm and intimate"

‘In Trevor Nunn’s polished revival, which boasts a cast of nearly thirty and an excellent eight-piece band, it’s at once a feast of dance, a bouncy comedy and a defiant portrait of Jewish resilience.’

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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Hole at the Royal Court Theatre (2018)

★★★

‘The show doesn’t develop sufficiently from its initial premise, although it continues to burn with rage’

‘The message of this piece of cabaret-cum-performance art is stark and simple even if, when couched in the language of physics, it becomes dense and impenetrable.

It is this: women have decided that it is long overdue time to take up space and raise their voices and nothing, not even a black hole, is going to stop them.

Although it is impossible to fault the gender politics, Ellie Kendrick’s work is not always an easy watch, as it slides from fierce feminism to far harder-to-follow physics.’

Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard
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Hadestown at the National Theatre (2018)

★★★★

"Greek myth meets the Depression in haunting musical feast"

"Musically it’s a feast — full of folksy melancholy and heartache, yet also packed with gospel, dirty funk and New Orleans jazz."

"It’s tightly choreographed and genuinely inventive. Sometimes operatic and sometimes bluesy, it manages to sound seductively hushed one moment and rollicking the next."

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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Company at the Gielgud Theatre (2018)

★★★★★

"It’s glorious"

”Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy dates from 1970, but in Marianne Elliott ’s production — not so much a revival as a complete reimagining — it feels wonderfully fresh.

"Elliott has brought a finely crafted unity to a show that has previously resembled a series of sketches. It’s surprising, sexy and clever."

"One highlight is Patti LuPone ’s witheringly dry phrasing as the worldly-wise Joanne. Another is Sarah and Harry (Mel Giedroyc and Gavin Spokes) practising a hilarious form of marital jiu-jitsu in their living room."

"The ingenuity of Bunny Christie’s neon-lit design is typical of a staging that always feels precision-engineered. But even as it pops with vitality and dazzles with its wit, this is a take on Company that savours Sondheim’s subtleties. In short, it’s glorious.”

Henry Hitchins, The Evening Standard
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Translations at the National Theatre (2018)

★★★★

"It’s a vision of the power of language"

"It takes some time to tune into Friel’s particular brand of finely wrought understatement. But this account of what’s perhaps his best play savours its rhythms, and that’s crucial, because at root it’s a vision of the power of language — the importance of preserving it, the barriers it can create, and above all the ways that words are like fossils, stamped with the imprint of the past."

Henry Hitchins, The Evening Standard
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My Name Is Lucy Barton at the Bridge Theatre (2018)

★★★★

"Impressive"

"At first I feared I wouldn’t get along with Lucy Barton. This Lucy Barton, at least, as there is a danger inherent in opening up something small and perfectly formed, in this case Elizabeth Strout’s marvellous 2016 novel which is essentially a monologue, and exposing its intimacies in a big space, namely the almost bare stage of the 900-seat Bridge Theatre. Constant mitigation, however, is provided by that outstanding American actress, three-time Oscar nominee Laura Linney, who gives a compelling 90-minute solo performance full of her trademark nervous smiles."

"We long for the hard-hitting incidents to be unpacked a little, but that’s not Strout’s style. Instead she fashions exquisite cameo-like depictions of lives in an unassuming community, which Linney relishes: Lucy’s hatred of a cold house led her to stay behind after school in a warm classroom, resulting in ultimate academic success – and an escape route. Impressive.”

Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard
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Killer Joe at the Trafalgar Studios (2018)

★★

"It’s the shallowness of this two-hour piece that poses greater problems"

”Although Bloom doesn’t exude enough danger in a role that’s been played with icy charisma by Matthew McConaughey on the big screen, he has an air of savvy meanness. Whereas everyone else seems chaotic — especially Adam Gillen’s manic Chris — he’s courteous and cool."

"The scene in which he seduces Dottie, soundtracked by Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, is grimly fascinating. Yet it’s one of several that may leave a sour taste in many theatregoers’ mouths. The most memorable of these involves Joe demanding that Sharla chug on a fried chicken drumstick that he clasps to his crotch."

"In the end it’s the shallowness of this two-hour piece that poses greater problems. Only Sophie Cookson’s Dottie has any psychological depth, and Simon Evans’s production never settles into a convincing rhythm. The play is luridly inauthentic, and this revival misses much of its creepiness and grotesque humour.”

Henry Hitchins, The Evening Standard
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Tina - The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre (2018)

★★★

"Who better to power a high-profile new show than the queen of rock and roll herself"

"Warren is a livewire performer with a belter of a voice and the hits, as well as that iconic clothing combination of leather and denim, are all present and correct."

"The creative team boasts impeccable credentials. Yet the material surprisingly lacks rigour, too often staying in soft-focus when a more forensic examination is required; a breathless programme-note hagiography by Hall suggests that perhaps Turner’s involvement in the project might also have brought with it the lack of beneficial critical distance."

Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard
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