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
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 available here.

Five Stars

The Doctor, Almeida Theatre, central London

"Icke directs all this like a thriller; the air positively crackles with the difficulty of the raging debate. It is a play entirely made up of ethical argument, yet it is so tense there are moments when you stop breathing – or when someone's point of view seems so outrageous that it demands a sharp intake of breath." Until 28 September

Equus, Trafalgar Studios, central London

"Troubling, rich and riveting, it's a must-see." Until 7 September

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 February 2020

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

Debbie Kurup, Sharon D Clarke and Gemma Sutton
Debbie Kurup, Sharon D Clarke and Gemma Sutton
© Matt Humphrey

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 15 March 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." Running until 2 November 2019

Noises Off, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, west London

"I did wonder what a young person who has never experienced the pleasures of a trouser-dropping farce would make of it all; but from the laughter at the close, it appears that the appeal of Noises Off is enduring for all the ages." Garrick Theatre, from 27 September

Four Stars

The Weatherman, Park Theatre, north London

"Technically impressive as almost every aspect of this challenging, chilling play is, it's not an easy watch. Sadly though, in this day and age, it is an essential one." Until 14 September

Evita, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, inner London

"Over and over again, this is a production that surprises, and nowhere more so than in its conception of the leading trio of characters, all played by actors imported from over the Atlantic. Samantha Pauly handles the big numbers with confidence, but the most interesting things about her performance are round the edges: the way she stands absolutely still as she tells Peron (Ektor Rivera, making the role more expressive and shaded than usual) that she would be surprisingly good for him." Until 21 September

Once On This Island, Southwark Playhouse, south London

The cast whirl and throw around the blocks and props of Simon Wells' versatile set, while the narrow traverse stage doesn't stop dazzling and at times viscerally physical choreography from Lee Proud (who also directs). Until 31 August

Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation, Royal Court, inner London

"There are some striking similarities with previous Crouch work – especially An Oak Tree, which also used the loss of a family member to interrogate what it means to perform and the various, eccentric ways that grief can manifest itself. But this piece feels less emotionally intimate and more playfully communal – you can almost sense Crouch's joy at having members of the public entering his space." 3 to 21 September

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet, Sadler's Wells, central London

"This is a powerful, timely and exhilarating adaptation that fizzes with youth and firmly roots an age-old tale in the preoccupations of the present day." Until 31 August

The Night of the Iguana, Noël Coward Theatre, central London

"Anna Gunn (best known as Breaking Bad's Skyler White) makes an impressive West End debut as Faulk – a tangle of grief and desire, toughness and heart, all barely disguised by lascivious bravado and an easy laugh. And Clive Owen, returning to the West End stage for the first time in 18 years, gives an arrestingly physical performance as Shannon." Until 28 September

Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre, west London

"It's an uncompromising, uncomfortable watch that leaves a bitter taste swilling around the back of the throat. But there's something to be said for theatre that is harsh and sometimes relentlessly cruel. It can make the stomach churn – we simultaneously resent our protagonist and sympathise with his plight." 9 October to 9 November

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

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

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

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 January 2020

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare's Globe, south London

"It's fair to say that amidst the carnivalesque atmosphere some of the play's darker moments are glossed over, but it's a necessary trade off to let the humour soar and the audience enthralled. Forget Love Island, if you want a romantic romp in the sunshine then this is a midsummer treat and no mistake." Until 13 October

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 summer 2020

Come From Away
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

The Worst Witch, Vaudeville Theatre, central London

"It's hard not to get swept up in the meta theatrical magic conjured by those on stage. A cauldron of delights perfect for a family summer show." Until 8 September

Blues in the Night, Kiln Theatre, north London

"If you're looking for a strong and engaging narrative, then Blues in the Night could disappoint. If, however, you're looking for a well-constructed piece of theatre that stands the test of time, then Susie McKenna's production will leave you clicking your fingers, dancing and craving some cold, sloe gin." Until 7 September