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Valentine's Day: top 10 theatre picks for a romantic evening

Valentine's Day is right around the corner

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Dex Lee in Five Guys Named Moe
© Helen Maybanks

Five Guys Named Moe

Marble Arch Theatre, until 24 March

The pop-up Marble Arch Theatre has been a veritable success, with its revolving stage enchanting audiences and surrounding them with a cavalcade of joy. That's why Five Guys Named Moe, about a man being given relationship tips by five apparitions who climb out from a radio, is on our list – it's the perfect night out for sitting back and enjoying a whole dose of feel-good musical fun. With its '30s period-designed bar and a host of cocktails on offer, Five Guys is one date night opportunity you wouldn't want to pass up come next week.

Brief Encounter
(© Steve Tanner)

Brief Encounter

Birmingham Rep, until 17 February then UK tour

In terms of the most iconic romantic films, Brief Encounter is surely high up on the list. But why Netflix-and-chill when you can watch the show live on stage? Kneehigh has revived its theatre production of the classic 1945 film, directed and adapted by outgoing Globe AD Emma Rice. The show opens in Birmingham, so any Midlanders can hop on a train and catch the show next week. For any Londoners worried that they'll miss out, fear not, the show will run at Haymarket Empire cinema from next month.

96 Festival

96 Festival

Omnibus Theatre, until 28 February

Valentine's Day can be a lot of things, and during the 96 Festival at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, it's a chance to celebrate love and its expression in the present day. Named after the 1996 Pride March after-party on Clapham Common, the festival champions progress, achievement and possibility with a range of talks, performances and readings across LGBT history month.

Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton in Beginning
© Manuel Harlan


Ambassadors Theatre, until 24 March

Anyone who knows the awkwardness and cringe factor of a budding romance will have a lot to enjoy in Beginning, which runs at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End after a critically lauded run at the National Theatre in October. As WhatsOnStage critic Sarah Crompton puts it, it's all "incredibly funny but sometimes so truthful they're almost too painful to watch". All playing out in real-time in the early hours of the morning, the show follows Danny and Laura as they boogie, cook and booze their way through a potential hook-up. For those who love their new writing as much as they love Valentine's Day, it seems.

The cast of Cinderella
© Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne's Cinderella

Milton Keynes Theatre, then UK tour until June

Matthew Bourne's Cinderella lit up Sadler's Wells when it opened last Christmas, with a raft of five-star reviews, including from WhatsOnStage. The show has now embarked on its UK tour, and will be stationed in Milton Keynes for the Valentine's period. Placing the show in a Second World War environment and featuring some spellbinding projection from Duncan McLean, the show stars Cordelia Braithwaite and Ashley Shaw, sharing the titular role.

The cast of Jersey Boys
© Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Jersey Boys

Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent then UK tour until March 2019

Want to serenade your significant other but unsure of your singing chops? The UK tour of Jersey Boys has the answer, in an Olivier Award-winning jukebox musical stuffed with classic romantic tracks and memorable tunes, telling the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. There's never been an easier way to tell someone to "Stay", or that they're just too good to be true. The UK tour will continue after the stay in Stoke, visiting Hull, Sunderland and Glasgow.

The cast of Collective Rage
© Jack Sain

Collective Rage

Southwark Playhouse, until 17 February

What even is love anymore? That's one of the questions rippling through Collective Rage, Jen Silverman's new play making its UK premiere at Southwark Playhouse in south London. The piece follows the lives of five women each named Betty, trying to put on a devised play based on the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe. A modern take on identity politics, romance and mental health, this is the sort of show for those who like their Valentines kick-ass, forward-thinking and cutting edge.

Carey Mulligan in Girls & Boys
© Johan Persson

Girls & Boys

Royal Court, until 17 March

From musicals to monologues, our next show is a hotly-anticipated piece of new writing from Matilda and Orphans writer Dennis Kelly. The piece explores the experiences of a couple who meet at an airport and, after a whirlwind romance, settle down and start a family together. Before things start going a bit wrong. Performing the monologue is BAFTA-winner and Tony Award-nominee Carey Mulligan, returning to the UK stage for the first time since her performance in Skylight. Directed by Lyndsey Turner, this show looks like a hot ticket for February.

Rehearsals for Juliet and Romeo
© Lost Dog

Juliet and Romeo: A Guide to Long Life and Happy Marriage

Battersea Arts Centre, until 24 February

What would happen if Romeo and Juliet had survived their tragic first week together and turned into a settled middle-aged couple? That's the premise for Lost Dog's new show, which opens at the south London venue following a run at The Place. As the pair deal with mid-life crises, awkward interactions and the ghosts of their younger selves, they decide to mount a play to solve or their problems. Or at least they think it will. A fun and realistic look at relationships – ideal for Valentine's season.

Anti-Valentine's option

Clare Louise Connolly (Regan) in The Exorcist
© Pamela Raith

The Exorcist

Phoenix Theatre, until 10 March

Making up the final entry on the list is a show for those who wouldn't be seen dead doing anything romantic this Valentine's Day. And why not go for the perfect remedy to all the soppiness and gift giving? Based on perhaps the most well-known horror film of all time, the stage adaptation of The Exorcist sees the young Regan possessed by a demon and spook out her family and local clergy. If you can think of better way to escape Valentine's, then make your way to the Phoenix in the West End.