Critics Choice: Top 10 New Plays in London May 29

10 Best New Plays in London

What Play should you see first in London?

We have compiled this list to save you the trouble of working it out! It's just our view – and everyone has one – based on our Reviewers' thoughts. We will update the list regularly so new productions get on your radar and when original casts change that is factored in.

Plays which have been running for more than three years are not included – this is a list for new or relatively new productions running in London.

So go see them!

The One Day Of The Year at The Finborough Theatre

Fiona Press, Mark Little and Paul Haley. Photo: Mark Douet

1. The One Day Of The Year
Despite its trappings and narrative, this is not a play about Anzac Day, the public holiday in Australia where attention is paid to those who fought for their country in wars, those who were killed or maimed, or worse, survived. No. In the same way Death of a Salesman is fundamentally about the American Dream, so The One Day Of The Year is about the Australian Dream, or perhaps more exactly, about the dream of what it is to be an aspirational Australian. Wayne Harrison has achieved something quite remarkable here. A revival, a rebirth of a classic play without bells and whistles, just relying upon intelligent, visionary story telling and first rate acting. Mark Little’s mercurial, bombastic and, ultimately, desperate Alf is a performance for the history books and the support he has from Fiona Press, Paul Haley and James William Wright is exceptional.
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The Elephent Man starring Bradley Cooper

2. The Elephant Man
At first glance it is a simple historical tale with a couple of central star turns; unremarkable fodder but capable of reaching glitzy heights. Ellis sees beyond that though, and although the casting is undeniably starry, this is a thoughtful, incisive and ultimately shattering meditation on tolerance, convention, acceptance and love.
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JustJimDale105r

3. Just Jim Dale: Still Carrying On
It is genuinely delightful to be able to report that anyone, child, adult, theatre sceptic or theatre lover, should have no hesitation in snaffling a ticket to the one man sensation that is Just Jim Dale, now playing at the Vaudeville Theatre after what can only be described as a glittering press night. Theatrical luminaries, critics, fans and audience members were seemingly all of one mind – Jim Dale is one hell of a performer.
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Phoebe and Jonathan Pryce in Jonathan Munby's production of The Merchant Of Venice. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Phoebe and Jonathan Pryce in Jonathan Munby's production of The Merchant Of Venice. Photo: Manuel Harlan

4. The Merchant of Venice
Set firmly in its time, circa 1597, with costumes and accoutrements which establish an exotic, far away and, most importantly, bygone era, Munby avoids the great questions of the play and steers a course through the waters of sympathy, self-interest and capitalism. The result is a richly amusing take on the play, which is involving and clear, but which never achieves great heights of lyricism or drama, happily accepting “everyday” as its overall pulse. The high point of poetry for the evening comes with Jonathan Pryce’s heartfelt “Hath not a Jew eyes?” speech, the words wrenched from his very soul.
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Hay-Fever

5. Hay Fever
Felicity Kendal is a triumph as the effervescent, self-indulgent diva that is Judith. Her throaty, raspy tones; the endless lighting and stubbing out of cigarettes; the casual, but persistent, flick of tousled curls; the innocent eyes and the naughty remark and the naughty remark and the innocent eyes; the devilment, the wild abandon, the sneaky confidence, the haughty indifference. Every aspect of the performance is beautifully judged by Kendal.
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Kristen Scott Thomas in The Audience playing Queen Elizabeth II

Photo: Johan Persson.

6. The Audience
The Audience, written by Peter Morgan,  directed by Stephen Daldry, is one of those rare theatrical experiences which embraces and delivers all of the possibilities in a rich, perfectly-pitched and played meditation on the UK Monarchy, the office of Prime Minister and the state of the evolving UK society…If all West End productions were this good, London would expire from sheer pleasure.
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Fanny and Stella directed by Steven Dexter at Above The Stag Theatre

Robert Jeffrey, Christopher Bonwell, Marc Gee Finch, Alexander Allin and James Robert-Moore in Fanny And Stella. Photo: Derek Drescher

7. Fanny and Stella
Gay themed theatre can be hit and miss at the best of times but Chandler, Miller, Dexter and Todd have fashioned an evening that could well break free of its LGBT base and find a wider audience.
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Skin In Flames at Park Theatre

8. Skin in Flames
It would be wrong to reveal more of the detail but the writer deserves great credit for the way in which he remorselessly brings the stories together in the finale while leaving sufficient threads hanging loose for our imaginations to fill in the remaining gaps in our own way.
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The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time on Broadway

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time

9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night
This remarkable production will remain with you long after you have left the theatre. It’s one of the most innovative and incredible pieces of theatre you are likely to see in the West End.
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Bad Jews at The St James Theatre, London

10. Bad Jews
Harmon writes vicious dialogue fearlessly and with potent froth. The characters are clearly defined by their speech and each seems real, accessible – possibly someone you might know. There are several real surprises along the way and not much ends up as it first seems. It is a sharp, clever piece of writing.
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