Critic’s Choice – Top 10 West End Plays – 1st April 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!


1. A View From The Bridge
At the centre of the maelstrom of human experience that whips up and around and in Jan Versweyveld’s spare set is the towering, mesmerising and faultless turn from Mark Strong. Lean, muscular, a volcano approaching breaking point, Strong’s extraordinary Eddie is a once-in-a-generation performance.
Read Our Review | This show is SOLD OUT


2. Oppenheimer
Morton-Smith has written a masterpiece which Angus Jackson has cast and directed in a way which gives it full measure, lustre and power. No one here gives anything other than a first-class performance. John Heffernan, in the central role, with the bulk of the play squarely on his shoulders, is world class. He is magical, mercurial, magnificent.
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Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma in Shaw's Man and Superman at the National Theatre
Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma in Shaw’s Man and Superman

3. Man and Superman
Front and centre, shouldering a Herculean workload of complicated, dense dialogue, is Ralph Fiennes in absolutely cracking form. He has unflagging energy and although he rattles the text at a remarkable speed, he gives full value to each word and makes clear, uncomplicated sense of every passage. He is phenomenal, like a bolt of electricity confined to the stage. Simon Godwin’s stunning production makes Shaw’s play, a philosophical tennis match of volleyed ideas and ideals, burst with wit, innovation and utter delight.
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My Night With Reg Transfers from the Donmar Warehouse to the Apollo Theatre

4. My Night With Reg
Some of the performances are deliberately bigger, determinedly more overtly comic, less confrontational than they were at the Donmar. This lessens the dramatic sense of the play in unsatisfactory ways, while ostensibly appealing, presumably, to the expected middle class audiences in the West End. Some of the acting remains first-rate and the inherent power of the writing, while diminished, is far from lost. Lewis Reeves, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock are even better than they were at the Donmar
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Wink at Theatre 503
Photo: Savannah Photographic

5. Wink
An increasingly explicit and intimate dialogue with many moments of ingenious hilarity spirals quickly out of control before colliding with real life in a tense, disturbing and increasingly sombre denouement that leaves everyone damaged to different degrees.
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A Breakfast Of Eels at The Print Room
A Breakfast Of Eels. Photo: Nobby Clark

6.A Breakfast of Eels
The text is like a huge tapestry – there are many elements sewn into it: moments of silence, of banality, of revelation, of humour, of intense longing, of possibility, of heartbreak, of examination, of acceptance, of desolation. Quite a lot of the dialogue is lyrical, evocative. But there is a shimmering through-line of unspoken hurt and non-alignment which positively aches. Andrew Sheridan and Matthew Tennyson complement each other perfectly and the gradual changes in each over the course of the play are finely judged. Complex and absorbing.
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7. Shakespeare in Love
It is difficult to recall, at least over the course of the last seven years, a commercial production of a new play which has opened directly in the West End and which is as funny, dramatic, enthralling and educational.
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8. The Ruling Class
James McAvoy is a true, blistering, white-hot star who lights up every moment he is on stage, whose smile and darting, impressive eyes can say whatever he wants them to say; utterly mercurial, hilarious and wild one moment, malevolent and disturbed in the next, then sad or insane or calculating or sexy – or all of those at once.
Read Our Review | This Show Is Sold Out


9.Happy Days
Happy Days is not a happy play. It is Beckett at his most confronting, most understandable, relentlessly surreal and disturbing. Essentially a monologue, it is an endurance test for both actress and audience.
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Closer at the Donmar Warehouse

10. Closer
Watching David Leveaux’ stylish revival at the Donmar Warehouse, Closer seems not so much a play about people who don’t have children yet as a play about grown up children. Games, set-ups, lies, betrayals, revenge, secrets – the machinations of the four characters (who are the strangers who become lovers/lovers who become strangers) resemble schoolyard activities. Marber’s dialogue is sharp, ugly and vicious; it is often very funny too.
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