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UK theatre to watch: best shows reviewed to see

Find out what you need to see up and down the country with our round-up

M-Jae Cleopatra Isaac, Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson in The Book of Mormon
© Paul Coltas

There's a whole host of brilliant shows on throughout the country, not just in the capital city. WhatsOnStage gets out to as many of them as we can to report back on what you should be watching. Here's the list of all the best reviewed shows up and down the UK, from big-scale tours to one-off premieres. Watch out for our London round up, for all the shows reviewed there.



Five Stars

Hobson's Choice, Royal Exchange, Manchester

"The tale contains darker and tragic moments but a laugh is never too far away and Gupta's script is brought to life by a host of wonderful performances." Until 6 July


A Thousand Splendid Suns, Birmingham Rep and touring

"It's gripping, heart-rending, painful to watch at times and at others inspiring. It leaves you outraged and yet also comforted that even in the darkest of situations good can shine through." Until 6 July


Amelie the Musical, Watermill Theatre and touring

"Director Michael Fentiman marshals a superb team to realise a collective vision of the French capital that manages to go beyond cliché." Until 31 August


Matilda, Leicester Curve and touring

"Powerful, funny and beautifully musical, it reminds us who we are, and who we might be."' Until 6 July 2020

Anton Lesser as Pope Benedict XVI and Nicholas Woodeson as Cardinal Bergoglio (the future Pope Francis)

Four Stars

The Book of Mormon, Manchester Palace and touring

"A thoroughly polished and professional production." Until 28 September


Plenty, Chichester Festival Theatre

"Designer Georgia Lowe creates a simple yet stunning set reaching its climax with the beautiful staging of the final scenes." Until 29 June


The Pope, Royal and Derngate, Northampton

"It looks sumptuous, sounds gorgeous and reveals its moderately niche Catholic narrative in a fascinating and gripping fashion." Until 22 June


Driving Miss Daisy, York Theatre Royal

"From the start Alfred Uhry's text and Suzann McLean's economical and perceptive direction are laying the foundations inconspicuously for a second half of increasing power." Until 29 June


Shalini Peiris (Durga Hobson),Tony Jayawardena (Hari Hobson) and Esh Alladi (Ali Mossop) in Hobson's Choice
© Marc Brenner

Horrible Histories: Dreadful Deaf, Bristol Old Vic and touring

"Here, teaming up with Deafinitely Theatre, Birmingham Stage Company has produced an hour's trawl through the history of Deafness, pairing fascinating tales with giggles aplenty." Until 23 June


Venice Preserved, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

"Thomas Otway's play has all the intrigue and narrative drive of House of Cards, and director Prasanna Puwanarajah exploits these qualities for all they're worth." Until 7 September


The Rocky Horror Show, New Wimbledon and touring

"The piece is chock full of audience interaction and actively encourages aisle boogying." Until 30 November


Les Misérables, Festival Theatre and touring

"The musical performances are really strong, led by a brilliantly vigorous Valjean from Killian Donnelly, a young performer who plays the older man with broiling energy." Until 30 May 2020


The Bodyguard, touring

"From Tim Hatley's camera shutter set and dazzling costumes, to Duncan McLean's stirring projections and Mark Henderson's atmospheric lighting, Thea Sharrock's production feels distinctly cinematic." Until 1 February 2020


The company of Madagascar
© Scott Rylander

Hair, The Vaults and touring

"It's chief strength is Galt MacDermott's enchanting, melodic music - numbers like "Aquarius", "Good Morning Starshine"... are magnificently rendered here by a terrific young cast and fine rock band." Until 10 August


Six the Musical, Arts Theatre and touring

"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." Touring from 24 October


The Taming of the Shrew, Royal Stratford Theatre and touring

"The gender-swapping aside, Justin Audibert's main house RSC debut is a pleasingly conventional production of one of Shakespeare's most awkward plays." Until 4 April 2020


Madagascar the Musical, New Wimbledon and touring

"With a handful of chipper tunes and some top-notch design from Tom Rogers, DreamWorks' feature makes the safe transition from screen to stage with all the necessary buckets of charm and goodwill." Until 24 November


Three Stars

Blithe Spirit, Theatre Royal Bath

"Saunders is a kind of fusty, grey-haired frump, who wears moth-eaten woollens and robust tights. She is very funny, sucking her lips and sighing out her cheeks, and making her eyes widen hugely at the prospect of a very good sandwich." Until 6 July

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Ustinov Studio, Bath

"It's a night of meta-theatricality which, despite a cast trying admirably hard to make it work, often feels a little laboured and a little smug." Until 6 July


The Provoked Wife, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

"Where the show scores really highly is in its performances. The main cast are uniformly excellent." Until 7 September

Caroline Quentin in The Provoked Wife
© Royal Shakespeare Company 2019/ Pete Le May

The King and I, Manchester Opera House and touring

"Michael Yeargan's set design is consistently excellent, right from the very opening with Anna's ship slithering its way onto the stage buoyed by billows of smoke." Until March 2020


Captain Corelli's Madolin, Rose Theatre, Kingston and touring

"Underscored with composer Harry Blake's beautiful mandolin melodies (and a dash of The Cardigans), Captain Corelli's Mandolin would satisfy any desire for watching epic stories on a smaller scale." Until 22 June


Club Tropicana, New Wimbledon and touring

"Club Tropicana the Musical is camp and bawdy fun, just don't expect a musical masterpiece." Until 13 July


As You Like It, Royal Shakespeare Theatre and touring

"There's a real sense of the ensemble about the RSC's forthcoming summer season in the main house at Stratford." Until April 2020

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