CRITICS CHOICE: Top 10 Plays October 2015

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!

Join our mailing list to receive information on this and other great productions.

Briefs at London Wonderground

1. Briefs
This gender, race and sexual politics canvas stretches across the entire platform of the performances, from the sharp opening patter of Fez Fa’anana which happily offends everyone equally, through the “pretty doesn’t mean dumb” antics of the cheeky Louis Briggs and the vignettes with an increasingly more naked Lucky Charm (Lachy Shelley) to the various satirical and ironic numbers involving the remarkable Dallas Dellaforce, whose take on gender roles in society is razor sharp and strikingly bold.

Casa Valentina by Harvey Fierstein at Southwark Playhouse

2. Casa Valentina
As directed by Luke Sheppard, Casa Valentino is a play about a marriage. Everything turns on the central relationship between George (Edward Wolstenholme) and Rita (Tamsin Carroll). They have an unconventional marriage. She married him knowing that he liked to dress in women’s’ clothing; indeed, she has fostered and supported his desire because she loves him. She is content for his dress-wearing self to be the prettiest girl in their marriage. She welcomes, supports and mothers the other men who come to rent rooms in their weekend guesthouse and unleash their inner woman. A Weekend In The Country with a difference.

Mr Foote's Other Leg at Hampstead Theatre

3. Mr Foote’s Other Leg
The Hampstead season has all but sold out, if not actually sold out. Make every effort to grab a return. The production really ought to transfer to the West End and run and run, preferably at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. To see this rich plum pudding of a play in the theatre which is closest to the place where Foote worked his magic, and which bears the name of Foote’s own passion, would be really something.

The Sum Of Us at Above The Stag

4. The Sum Of Us
One part of the mission of Above the Stag is to remind us of notable plays on gay themes that have not always received the attention they deserved, or whose continuing topicality and universal value needs restating. The Sum of Us by David Stevens falls very much within both these categories, and now receives a welcome fresh production at the launch of the autumn season. The season has now sold out!READ OUR REVIEW

The Cocktail Party - Print Room at the Coronet
Richard Dempsey, Christopher Ravenscroft and Marcia Warren in The Cocktail Party. Photo: Marc Brenner

5. The Cocktail Party
There are many more layers both to this play and to this production that deserve further comment, but which lie beyond the reach of a relatively brief review. Suffice to say that this production makes a very well thought-through case for revisiting Eliot’s plays as a whole, and serves to remind us that there is a lot more important drama to his name than the one work we all know – namely Cats – which of course he never intended for the stage.

Mark Rylance in Farinelli at the Sam Wanamker Playhouse
Mark Rylance as Philip V of Spain Photo: Marc Brenner

6. Farinelli And The King
It is a slight, but quite beautiful, play, perfectly suited to the intimate grandeur of the space, and quite intoxicating, so perfectly judged is everything about it. . The gifted Sam Crane takes on the acting burden of Farinelli , but when it comes time to sing, he is either joined onstage or replaced there by Purefoy, costumed precisely to match Crane. Purefoy has a strong, rich and agile counter-tenor. He is a delight to hear.

Richard II at Shakespeare's Globe
7. Richard II
The result here is that this is more the Comedy of Richard II than the Tragedy of Richard II. There is an unseemly pursuit of laughter – characterisations are extreme, language is tossed aside in favour of quick laughs and the deeper, darker side of text and situation is left largely unconsidered. This is not to say that production is not entertaining – it is – but it is not a production which seeks to achieve anything in particular or which attempts to enliven or illuminate. In rather the same way as an accomplished school performance can leave you satisfied, so too does this production. It’s a great introductory point; if this is your first taste of Shakespeare, you won’t be disappointed. But if you come looking for insight or new perspectives, you will find none.

Read the Jane Eyre, National Theatre review on
8. Jane Eyre
This is a fully compelling night at the theatre. You do not feel the time dragging and can only be impressed at the way the cast finds new meanings in material that we all think we know backwards. This is a true ensemble production with scope for individuals to shine and the whole to resonate with something greater than their individual contributions too. It impressed hugely, made me laugh often, but in the second half rarely touched me as it should.

Three Days In The Country at the National Theatre

9. Three Days In The Country
So often the press night comes too early in a run to fully assess a production’s potential. This welcome and ambitious new version has not yet attained greatness but certainly has the makings of it.READ OUR REVIEW | BOOK TICKETS

Sion Daniel Young as Christopher in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In the Night-Time. photo: Brinkhoff-Mogenburg
Sion Daniel Young as Christopher in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In the Night-Time. photo: Brinkhoff-Mogenburg

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night
Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time received seven Olivier Awards in 2013, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design and the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play.

What do you think of our choices?

Share via
Send this to a friend