Drama and comedy: What’s playing in London Theatre this Summer
London Theatre thrives in the summer months, with thousands of extra visitors to the capital and plenty of events and attractions to keep everyone entertained.
British theatre is respected and admired around the world for the quality of its drama and comedy, featuring world-class performances and the very best writing – from hot new British talent to classic dramas and comedies, and major work from writers around the world.
Find our guide to the best plays being performed in London this summer.
IF YOU LOVE…
★ SEEING A BIG STAR, GO SEE:
Everyone loves seeing a true star at work, and the West End this summer has a high star count. Hollywood actress Kathleen Turner stars in new American play Bakersfield Mist at the Duchess Theatre alongside award-winning actor Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars). At the Theatre Royal Haymarket bunny boiling thriller Fatal Attraction is currently playing, featuring an all-star cast including Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis and Californication star Natascha McElhone. There is plenty of movie-star glamour in a revival of David Hare’s play Skylight at the Wyndham’s Theatre, with Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy performing together. At the Old Vic Theatre, Spooks and The Hobbit star Richard Armitage stars in a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. And at the Young Vic X Files star Gillian Anderson stars in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire.
★ BEING SCARED AT THE THEATRE, GO SEE:
Nothing is more thrilling than going to see live theatre and being scared out of your wits! Go see these chilling plays and you are guaranteed a terrifying night at a show: Ghost Stories at the Arts Theatre – terrifying tales written and directed by The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson and co-creator of Derren Brown’s shows Andy Nyman; London’s longest-running ghost story – The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre; Headllong Theatre’s critically acclaimed adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare 1984 at the Playhouse Theatre; and Scandi Gothic vampire horror Let The Right One In at the Apollo Theatre.
★ A TASTE OF ROYAL LONDON, GO SEE:
Visiting London must always include visiting Royal London. Go see these plays and taste some of London’s historic royal past: A lavish new adaptation of Oscar-winning movie Shakespeare in Love is coming to the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre this summer. This romantic comedy about William Shakespeare includes Queen Elizabeth I and the royal court, and promises to be a beautifully staged and riotously entertaining new show; Wickedly funny new comedy Handbagged at the Vaudeville Theatre is about the relationship between the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This play was hugely successful off-West End and has come into town for a strictly limited season.
★ PLAYS BASED ON ACCLAIMED BOOKS, GO SEE:
Experience Britain’s great literary tradition live on stage with these shows written by current and past stars of literature: Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, is based on Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning novels. Playing at the Aldwych Theatre this summer, the two plays are set around the court of Henry VIII and follow the story of commoner Thomas Cromwell. The plays have scooped five star reviews and are theatre at it’s most powerful; A visit to London is not complete without seeing the world’s longest-running play – Agatha Christie’s famous whodunit The Mousetrap at the St Martin’s Theatre; War Horse at the New London Theatre is the epic, Olivier Award-winning World War I family drama based on the celebrated novel by Michael Morpurgo and featuring actors working with life-sized puppets; finally The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on Mark Haddon’s much-loved novel, is playing in London directed by Marianne Elliott. The show 7 Olivier Awards – the most in Olivier Awards history – including Best New Play and the Best Director award.
★ HILARIOUS BRITISH COMEDY FROM FAMOUS AUTHORS, GO SEE:
Some of the best theatre comedies are live on stage in London, featuring comedy classics by Wodehouse, Coward and Wilde. Jeeves and Wooster at the Duke of York’s Theatre is the spiffingly funny new comedy based on PG Wodehouse’s legendary comic creations; Noel Coward’s comedy about class and British/American relations Relative Values is playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Patricia Hodge; John Buchan’s classic story The 39 Steps is given a fast-paced, madcap adaptation at the Criterion Theatre; and Oscar Wilde’s most famous comedy The Importance of Being Earnest comes to London’s Harold Pinter Theatre this summer in an all-star production featuring Nigel Havers, Martin Jarvis and Sian Phillips.
Full listings of West End Drama & Comedy
playing this summer in London