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Best theatre 2019: play and show reviews in London

Find out what is the best theatre to see in the capital from our reviews hub

Jamael Westman is the current lead in Hamilton
© Matthew Murphy

What to see, what to see. Sometimes it can be a nightmare working out what you want to see at the theatre. Here we collate all our most positively reviewed shows (from five stars to three) in one place, so you can look down the list and easily make a choice. There are obviously certain longrunners on this list missing (think Les Misérables, Matilda, Phantom and Wicked) which we reviewed a very long time ago. We update this document on a monthly basis, so make sure you bookmark it for future reference. Watch out for our regional and touring round up, which is coming soon too.

Five Stars

Operation Mincemeat, New Diorama, central London

"With some show-stopping composition and refined comedy, the show really is an outstanding gem of a concoction." Until 15 June

Death of a Salesman, Young Vic, central London

"A transformative, brilliant staging which offers a dazzling new look at a dazzling play, demonstrating once again that Miller's words, written in 1949, can speak across ages, times and cultures." Until 13 July

Wendell Pierce in Death of a Salesman
© Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Everybody's Talking About Jamie, Apollo Theatre, central London

"Exuberant, exhilarating, exciting, enchanting: Everybody's Talking About Jamie and it turns out they absolutely should be." Currently booking until January 2020

Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre, central London

"It unfolds fluently and fast, whirring us through the scenes of Hamilton's incident-packed life, treating duels and debates about the merits of a centralised tax system with the same propulsive confidence. " Currently booking until September 2019

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Criterion Theatre, central London

"It ratchets up the hilarity from its opening pun-fest through trouser-dropping farce to an explosion of acrobatics and false perspectives in the climactic jewel theft." Currently booking until 3 May 2020

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Palace Theatre, central London

"This may be the surest commercial proposition for years, but it is also a spectacle of epic sweep and magisterial grandeur. It is, quite simply, magic." Currently booking until January 2020

Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre, central London

"The freshness and directness of Andy Nyman's reading is the heart of the entire show. " Currently booking until September 2019

Four Stars

Bronx Gothic, Young Vic, central London

"It is a haunting and penetrating performance, one driven by an arresting urgency and emotion." Until 29 June

Armadillo, the Yard, east London

"It's a hard show to shake and leaves you rattled." Until 22 June

Rutherford and Son, National Theatre, central London

"Designer Lizzie Clachlan's vivid imagining of the home of John Rutherford, powerful paterfamilias, determined businessman and domestic tyrant, is one of the great triumphs of this gleaming revival of Githa Sowerby's play." Until 3 August

Wife, Kiln Theatre, north London

" It's thought-provoking, wonderfully theatrical and, despite its flaws, pretty gorgeous. " Until 6 July

Dead Dog in a Suitcase, Lyric Hammersmith

"Kneehigh sure knows how to deliver a spectacle." Until 15 June

Anna, National Theatre, central London

"A slip of a thing at only one hour, Anna is nevertheless a layered, engrossing and remarkable piece. " Until 15 June

Sarah Amankwah in Henry IV Part II or Falstaff
© Tristram Kenton

Orpheus Descending, Menier Chocolate Factory, central London

"Impressively, Harvey holds the overarching weirdness of the story at bay, building her interpretation line by line, creating a vivid sense of a closed-in community where women have no rights." Until 6 July

Henry IV Parts I and II, Shakespeare's Globe, central London

"Delivering the verse with impecible grace and pace, Sarah Amankwah demonstrates the prince's journey beautifully." Until 11 October

Rosmersholm, Duke of York's, central London

"Its fiercely anxious examination of the need for value in public life, the purpose of politics and the importance of female emancipation speak pretty loudly." Until 19 July

Small Island, National Theatre, central London

"This is a show that shoots arrows of empathy and engagement out towards its audience and they respond; there were gasps of shock at the commonplace racism of post-war English lives." Until 10 August

Hayley Atwell and Company in Rosmersholm
© Johan Persson

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre, central London

"It takes its wild ingredients and mixes them together to make a strangely satisfying and charming show." Currently booking until 19 October 2019

Disney's Aladdin, Prince Edward Theatre, central London

"It has a kind of delirious silliness that makes you go with the flow, try as hard as you might to resist." Until 29 June

Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre, central London

"Whether always in touch with the realities of the world or not, Come From Away is wonderfully sung and produced." Currently booking until February 2020

The Lehman Trilogy, Piccadilly Theatre, central London

"Three magnificent actors conjure the story of the three Lehman brothers, the fate of whose company came to symbolise something about the state of America and of capitalism." Until 3 August

Come From Away
© Matthew Murphy

The Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre, central London

"In the main this is a cornucopia of comedy musical treats." Currently booking until September 2019

School of Rock, Gillian Lynne Theatre, central London

"You'd need a heart of stone not to melt at its sheer joy." Currently booking until January 2020

Six, Arts Theatre, central London

"A cross between a musical and a pop concert, complete with an energising feminist call to arms and an opportunity to offer a new slant on the stories of six women from history. Currently booking until January 2020

Three Stars

While the Sun Shines, Orange Tree Theatre, west London

"The gales of laughter that greeted this romp on press night suggests that it still has some mileage as a good old-fashioned crowd pleaser." Until 27 July

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bridge Theatre, central London

"The best thing about the show by far is Hammed Animashaun's Bottom, with the help of his Rude Mechanical folk, who works ridiculously hard for the laughs." Until 31 August

The Sweet Science of Bruising, Wilton's Musical Hall, east London

"While aesthetically the beautiful, peeling ambience of Wilton's Music Hall suits the story like a well-fitted boxing glove, practically, the space unhelpfully looms over the production. " Until 29 June

Education, Education, Education, Trafalgar Studios, central London

"there's little harm in indulging yourself with the rose-tinted spectacles for little more than an hour, and this indulgence – above the politics – is the draw of Education, Education, Education" Until 29 June

The Starry Messenger, Wyndham's Theatre, central London

"It is a quiet, funny and perceptive study of a certain type of uptight disappointment and emotional paralysis." Until 10 August

The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare's Globe, central London

"Director Elle While puts a slapstick, mime/dance heavy 1930s spin on it that works for the most part." Until 12 October

King Hedley II, Theatre Royal Stratford East

"Aaron Pierre capture's King's rage and sense of futility and Lenny Henry, despite the lightest of American accents, is both charming and lethal as the smooth-talking Elmore." Until 15 June

Natalie McQueen in 9 to 5
© Craig Sugden

Henry V, Shakespeare's Globe, central London

"It's left to individual performances to really brighten the evening – aside from Amankwah there are some brilliant turns from Colin Hurley playing an understated yet scrupulous Katherine." Until 11 October

9 to 5 the Musical, Savoy Theatre, central London

"Dolly Parton's good nature and sparkle carry us a long way through a show that knows exactly who it is pleasing and does so with a lot of energy, if not a huge amount of style." Currently booking until 4 April 2020

Only Fools and Horses, Haymarket Theatre, central London

"It has heart, wit and warmth by the bucketload." Currently booking until September 2019

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical, Aldwych Theatre, central London

"Here the songs of the great Tina Turner are used, with intelligent conviction, to chart the trajectory of her life." Currently booking until January 2020