London half term theatre options for all ages

With half term week on the horizon (w/c 23 May), we look at some of the great theatre options on offer across the capital

Michael Matias as Bugsy Malone and Sophie Decaro as Tallulah
Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Hammersmith
(© Manuel Harlan)

May half-term. If you're a parent this is the equivalent of hearing the bell whilst running the 10,000 metres. It signals the last lap, the final stretch, the home-run; you can raise your arms aloft as the majority of the long hard slog is behind you and it's just 400 metres (or six weeks) to the end of the school year.

However the Little Darlings still need to be entertained (and even more so if they are stuck in revision hell for exams) so take a break from Netflix and treat them to some of the excellent live theatre that will be on in London this half-term. To help you choose we have put together a list of ten great shows to enthrall everyone from toddlers to teenagers and all those in-between.

Ages 2 & up

CASA… HOME (35 minutes)
Polka Theatre, 240 The Broadway, London SW19 1SB
Presented by La Baracca Theatre Company this is a warm and tender play about building relationships, dependency and growing up. It is performed in English with some Italian. For slightly older children (aged 4-8), La Baracca will be presenting The Cosmic Dancer in the Main Theatre at the same time.

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Ages 4 & up

FOWL PLAY (75 minutes including interval)
Puppet Barge Theatre, 35 Blomfield Road, London W9 2PF
Down on the farmyard a foal is born, causing much excitement among the animals. The chickens soon spread the news that leads to an unexpected turn of events. The production features carved marionettes and original music.

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Ages 6 & up

BUGSY MALONE (2 hours including interval)
Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, King Street, London W6 0QL
Olivier award-winning director Sean Holmes has brought to life the first professional production of Alan Parker's world famous musical in over ten years with a gloriously talented young cast. Get your splurge guns at the ready and join Bugsy, Blousey and Tallulah in a wonderful evening of family entertainment.

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MATILDA THE MUSICAL (2 hours and 35 minutes including interval)
Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, London WC2H 9HU
In October Matilda will celebrate its fourth birthday at the Cambridge Theatre so it's possible that seasoned theatregoers will have already seen this, but no round up of family theatre would be complete without a mention of this glorious gem of a musical. It's worth seeing again and again, with or without the kids.

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Ages 8 & up

HENRY THE FIFTH (60 minutes)
Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street, London SE1 2HZ
Kings need crowns and castles to prove themselves, and so does Henry. Henry V of England, that is. But he is running out of cash and all that he can think about is that his neighbour's castle is bigger than his. Henry the Fifth is modern, fun and an inventive take on Shakespeare's classic.

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THE TWITS (2 hours including interval)
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS

Mr and Mrs Twit are not very nice. In fact they're VILE. They hold a family of monkeys hostage in a cage and force them to stand on their heads all the time! Mischievously adapted from Roald Dahl's story, Enda Walsh turns The Twits upside down and brings this revolting revolution to the Royal Court Theatre.

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Ages 9 & up

PETER PAN (60 minutes)
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

"I ran away the day I was born" said Peter, "cause I heard Father and Mother talking of what I was to be when I became a man. I want always to be a little boy and to have fun". But this could not be for the Darlings; all children, except one, grow up. George Llewelyn Davies, killed in action in WW1 was one of the children who inspired this iconic character. He and a generation of lost boys are remembered in this rediscovery of J.M. Barrie's original stage play.

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Ages 11 & up

The Vaults, Launcelot Street, London SE1 7AD

Les Enfants Terribles invite you into the Vaults deep below Waterloo Station to explore Wonderland in all its nonsensical glory and experience immersive storytelling with music, puppetry and circus. Choose which direction you head in and find yourself at the heart of the story piecing together the puzzle to search for Alice.

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Ages 14 & up

THE HARVEST (70 minutes)
Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE

It's harvest time and Egor, Valerii, Ira and Lubya are working hard in the orchard, picking and packing apples. However, as the day progresses, what begin as tiny problems escalate into a complete shambles resulting in total comic mayhem. This ingenuous comedy from cult writer Belarusian Pavel Pryazho is absurd, fearless and hilarious as he examines every area of post-Soviet life with a merciless eye.

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Ages 16 & up (contains explicit language)

THE BOOK OF MORMON (2 hours and 20 minutes plus 15 minute interval)
Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street

This one is definitely not for youngsters (or the faint-hearted), but older teenagers will love the profanities and rude humour from the creators of South Park. Don't let that put you off. It's clever, hilarious and has a fabulous score PLUS it's a show that your kids might actually deign to be seen with you at. Win-win.

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