London Theatre Week has been extended: the West End is rolling out the red carpet to audiences in the capital for one more week.
“We are ecstatic to be extending London Theatre Week, giving audiences additional opportunities to experience the best of the West End at remarkable prices,” said Stephen Crocker, general manager of ticketing platform TodayTix Group.
The scheme, which is now running until September 10, has been offering cut-price tickets to more than 70 of London’s most exciting stage shows. From long runners such as Les Mis and The Lion King, to new arrivals such as A Strange Loop, tickets have been on offer from as low as £15, as well as for £25 and £35 since August 21.
This marks the fifth year of London Theatre Week. A total of 140 shows have participated over that time, selling more than one million tickets.
So for anyone thinking of taking advantage of the deal, but not sure what to pick, here are our top recommendations. So much to see, so little time...
A Strange Loop, Barbican Theatre
More than a decade in the making, the show hit Broadway in 2022 and has now crossed the pond to rave reviews. The play, which won a Tony for Best New Musical, is about a black gay man named Usher who is trying to write a musical, also called A Strange Loop, about a black gay man trying to write a musical.
Usher is riddled with self-doubt and self-loathing that keep urging him to sell out and write a play for actual real life film producer Tyler Perry, who is known for his very commercial comedy dramas.
Filled with laughs and catchy songs, The Evening Standard described A Strange Loop as, "probably the filthiest, most explicit show in London at the moment... It’s messy and exhausting as much as it is spectacular."
Until September 9
Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Theatre Royal Haymarket
Legendary Italian writer Dario Fo wrote Accidental Death of an Anarchist in 1970 based on the real incident of a man who "fell" out of a fourth floor window during a police interrogation in Milan.
Daniel Rigby plays the Maniac, a hyperactive man who believes he’s in a play and has taken on the role of a judge so that he can investigate the unexplained death of the defenestrated anarchist. Three witless police officers fall for the disguise and incriminate themselves.
It’s a must see "invective against the failures of the Met Police". And it is very, very funny.
Until September 9
2:22 A Ghost Story, Apollo Theatre
Danny Robins’s supernatural hit show has been continually thrilling audiences and reviewers since its August 2021 premiere, despite frequent changes to its lead cast (Lily Allen, Cheryl and Laura Whitmore have all starred). Now in its fifth West End production, Jaime Winstone plays Jenny, a woman who believes her new house is haunted. Her husband, Sam (Clifford Samuel) is more sceptical. When they host a dinner party one night, everyone agrees to stay up until 2:22am, the time when things usually starts to get weird.
“When it opened in 2021 the play showed a clear love for the ghost story genre but confounded expectation,” said the Standard in February. “The play is witty, bracingly sweary and probes intriguing ideas. Ghosts could be straggling refugees from the afterlife, fragments of consciousness, or revenants stirred up by gentrification.”
Until September 17
The Effect, National Theatre
The National Theatre has revived 2012 play The Effect by British playwright Lucy Prebble with star director Jamie Lloyd at the helm. It’s about volunteers in a clinical drug trial, who start to fall in love, which throws the trial off-course and stars Paapa Essiedu and Taylor Russell.
"A play of ideas about the way our brains work is welded to a ruthless 100-minute emotional arc, laced with wit and given a bittersweet ending, the Standard said.
Until October 7
Elephant, Bush Theatre
Anoushka Lucas’ debut play was met with rave reviews when it premiered back in October 2022. Now it has been transferred to the Bush’s main stage for a three week run.
Lucas returns to play Lylah, who gets a shock one day when a grand piano lands in her council flat. She’s struggling to balance all the different components of her life, as she attends school, meets the requirements of her scholarship, and tries to fit in with her family.
“A coming-of-age drama, a critique of colonialism, a piano gig and a love story – Anoushka Lucas packs a lot into her wittily probing one-hour solo show,” said the Standard last year. “What’s most pleasing about the show is the way Lucas teases out associations, contradictions and complications in areas of class, culture and ethnicity, as well as her exquisite delivery.”
October 14 to November 4
untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play, Young Vic
New York-based playwright Kimber Lee takes audiences on a journey through time, looking at Asian stereotypes. Described by the Young Vic as a “powerful new satire”, the play won the The Bruntwood Prize International Award in 2019, and has been met with near-universal acclaim. Directed by Roy Alexander Weise (The Mountaintop), the story follows Kim, who is having “one of those days”.
Until November 4
Crazy For You, Gillian Lynne Theatre
This romantic comedy musical with score by the legendary American composer George Gershwin is largely based on 1930 musical Girl Crazy. Charlie Stemp plays theatre-obsessed Bobby Child, who is running the family bank when he reluctantly goes to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a theatre’s mortgage.
He ends up falling for the theatre owner’s daughter, Polly, who he tries to win over by putting on a big show to save the theatre and bring morale to the despondent town.
A classic boy-meets-girl story and a wink to old-school American showbiz. It’s all razzle dazzle and jazz hands.
Until January 20, 2024
The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre
The Lion King still reigns supreme with its intricate mobile masks, puppets, exotic costumes and actors on stilts. It’s one of the few stage productions that is even more magical than its Disney film counterpart.
With a famous score by Elton John, including The Circle Of Life, and lyrics by Tim Rice, it’s a feel-good show that is here to stay and perfect to take the kids.
It’s worth downloading this week’s Evening Standard Theatre Podcast in which we interview the performers playing Mufasa and Scar, who have been in the show for 15 years.
Until February, 2024
The Mousetrap, St Martins Theatre
The world’s longest-running show still has theatre’s best kept secret. Agatha Christie’s 1952 mystery is still under wraps as the cast implores audiences to keep the identity of the killer to themselves once they leave the theatre.
This classic English country house murder mystery is just the thing for an evening of traditional, captivating storytelling. The Mousetrap is also the proud owner of the West End’s oldest prop. Fun fact: The clock on the set’s mantelpiece has been there since the show began in 1952 - when Winston Churchill was still the Prime Minister. If you haven’t seen this West End staple yet, surely now is the time.
For more information visit londontheatreweek.com
Until September, 2024
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One & Two
Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off play has enjoyed continuous success since its 2016 premiere: starting out strong, it won a record-breaking nine Olivier awards in 2017, and six Tony Awards in 2018. Now, according to Broadway World, there have now been over 700 Cursed Child performances, with over one million people seeing the show.
The play picks up around a decade after the end of the seventh Harry Potter book. Harry works at the Ministry of Magic, while his son, Albus Severus is just starting his first year at Hogwarts. “For the legions of Pottermaniacs eager to be reunited with the characters they adore, this will be a magical experience,” said the Standard when the Cursed Child opened. If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to bag the show’s tickets, this could be it.
Until May, 2024
Hear more on this episode of The Evening Standard Theatre Podcast:
Listen above, or wherever you stream your podcasts.