The best theatre to see in London this June, from Bluets to Viola’s Room

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From fresh adaptations of beloved classics to thought-provoking original shows, London is heaving with a wealth of theatre to see.

But with so much to choose from, picking what to see in the capital can feel like a dramatic epic. So we’ve done the heavy lifting for you with a list of our top picks to watch this May and June.

Opening this month

Richard III

Director Elle While is known for her fresh takes on Shakespeare, inverting genders and using humour to drive dark messages home. Now, she’s taking on Richard III. This production, which stars Michelle Terry, the artistic director of the Globe, has been the focus of controversy, however, for not casting a disabled performer as Richard prompting a backlash.

Shakespeare’s Globe, May 21 to August 3; buy tickets here

Romeo and Juliet

Tom Holland is Romeo and Francesca Amewudah-Rivers is Juliet in this buzzy “new vision” of Shakespeare’s tragic love story. Director Jamie Lloyd has been nominated for 10 Olivier awards, winning four, including Best Director and Best Musical Revival for this year’s Sunset Boulevard.

Duke of York’s Theatre, May 23 to August 3; buy tickets here

A View From The Bridge

Dominic West, star of The Affair, The Wire and The Crown, is Eddie Carbone in Lindsay Posner’s take on Arthur Miller's 1955 play, one of the great works of 20th century American theatre, which unpacks the destructive nature of obsessive love. Kate Fleetwood and Callum Scott Howells are also set to star.

Theatre Royal Haymarket, May 23 to August 3; buy tickets here

Bluets

Maggie Nelson’s 2009 meditation on love and grief has been adapted for the stage by Margaret Perry (Paradise Now!, Porcelain, Collapsible), directed by Katie Mitchell (Little Scratch, Anatomy of a Suicide). It’s being performed by Emma D’Arcy, Kayla Meikle (ear for eye) and Ben Whishaw.

Royal Court Downstairs, May 24 to June 29; buy tickets here

2:22 A Ghost Story

This Olivier-nominated ghost story about a couple who invite round two friends to get to the bottom of strange noises in their home, has seen a plethora of stars, including Lily Allen, Cheryl, Constance Wu, Jaime Winstone and Mandip Gill play its leading roles. Now Stacey Dooley is set to make her West End debut playing Jenny alongside Donna Air.

Gielgud Theatre, May 25 to August 4; buy tickets here

Boys from the Blackstuff

James Graham (Dear England) adapts Alan Bleasdale’s groundbreaking Eighties television series Boys from the Blackstuff, telling the story of a group of Liverpudlian men struggling to find work.

NT’s Olivier Theatre, May 29 to June 8 (transfers to the Garrick Theatre on June 13); buy tickets here

Viola’s Room

 (Viola's Room, Punchdrunk)
(Viola's Room, Punchdrunk)

Written by Daisy Johnson, the youngest-ever person to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Viola’s Room is a tantalising update of a Victorian gothic mystery and is the latest show from immersive theatre company Punchdrunk’s previous works. A haunting linear, audio-driven story director Felix Barrett has described it as “the ultimate date show”.

Punchdrunk, June 3 to August 18; buy tickets here

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder!

This award-winning musical comedy from Jon Brittain (Rotterdam) and Matthew Floyd Jones (Frisky and Mannish), produced by Fleabag’s Francesca Moody, has enjoyed sell out runs in Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh. Now it’s set for a West End run, with the show following BFFs Kathy and Stella, hosts of an unsuccessful regional true crime podcast, who are trying to solve a murder mystery.

Ambassadors Theatre, June 5 to September 14; buy tickets here

Wedding Band: A Love Hate Story in Black and White

Monique Touko (School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play) directs Alice Childress’ 1962 play Wedding Band, a love story between a black seamstress and a white baker in America’s deep south in 1918, a time when interracial marriage was illegal.

Lyric Hammersmith, June 6 to June 29; buy tickets here

English

American playwright and screenwriter Sanaz Toossi’s 2022 play, English, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last year is running for four weeks at Kiln Theatre, in a production directed by Diyan Zora. Drawing on her Iran roots – Toossi’s mother fled Iran after the revolution – the play is set in an Iranian classroom. Four adult classmates discover more about themselves as they try to learn English.

Kiln Theatre, June 6 to June 29; buy tickets here

The Bounds

Written by Stewart Pringle (Trestle) and directed by Jack McNamara, The Bounds is set in 1553, a time which the Court has described as “the true Golden Age of English football”. As a fiercely competitive game plays out, Percy and Rowan are wandering around, miles from everyone. They bump into a stranger who sets their lives on a different course.

Royal Court Upstairs, June 17 to July 13; buy tickets here

Alma Mater

Written by Kendall Feaver (The Almighty Sometimes) and directed by Polly Findlay (Derren Brown's Svengali), Alma Mater is about the first female master of a prestigious university college and is determined to create a space where people from all backgrounds feel welcome. But soon into her tenure, an incident upends her plans.

Almeida, June 18 to July 20; buy tickets here

Kiss Me, Kate

Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J Block (Into The Woods, The Cher Show) star in this new production of Cole Porter’s 1948 musical comedy, a story about a company trying to put on a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and the relationship between director Fred Graham and his ex-wife, leading lady Lilli Vanessi.

Barbican, June 18 to September 14; buy tickets here

The Constituent

This new play from Olivier award-winner Joe Penhall (Blue/Orange, Sunny Afternoon) and directed by Olivier and Tony Award winner Matthew Warchus (A Christmas Carol, Matilda The Musical) stars Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland) as an opposition backbencher whose ideals are tested by an ex-serviceman (James Corden) in crisis.

Old Vic, June 25 to August 10; buy tickets here

The Secret Garden

The beloved 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett is now being adapted by Holly Robinson (soft animals, Soho Theatre) and Anna Himali Howard (Graceland, Royal Court). When 10-year-old Mary Lennox finds herself at her uncle’s Misselthwaite Manor, she discovers that it’s a place full of secrets.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, June 25 to July 20; buy tickets here

Mean Girls The Musical

The cult high school comedy, which premiered on Broadway in 2018, is now coming to this side of the Atlantic. So fetch.

Savoy Theatre, June 25 to February 16, 2025; buy tickets here

Next to Normal

This 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical about a woman dealing with bipolar disorder took 14 years to cross the Atlantic after its 2009 Broadway run. But it was worth the wait: when it opened at the Donmar last year, with Michael Longhurst directing, it sold out and picked up some rave reviews. Now it’s transferring to the West End, with Cassie Levy and Jamie Parker returning to play husband and wife Diana and Dan.

Wyndham’s Theatre, June 26 to September 21; buy tickets here

Slave Play

Jeremy O.Harris’s 12-time Tony award-nominated 2018 play set on a slave plantation in the Old South now heads to London. Exploring sex and race, the play immediately sparked debate, being described as “provocative”, “fraught”, “so serious, so furious” and “ a cause célèbre and a scandal“. It’s about three interracial couples undergoing a kind of physical therapy because the black partners no longer feel sexually attracted to their white lovers.

Noël Coward Theatre, June 29 to September 21; buy tickets here

Starlight Express

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic rollerskating musical about a child’s train set that comes to life, and races against other, fancier train models, opened in the West End in 1984 and enjoyed an stellar 18 year run, making it the 9th-longest-running musical of all time. It’s been touring the world ever since, but is now, thrillingly, returning to London. Expect a cast of 40, whizzing around the refigured theatre.

Troubadour Wembley Park, June 30 to February 16; buy tickets here

Already open

Now, I See

Written and directed by Lanre Malaolu (SAMSKARA), Now, I See explores identity and forgiveness: two estranged brothers reunite at a memorial service for their sibling, forcing them to come face to face with their difficult past.

Theatre Royal Stratford East, to June 1; buy tickets here

Twelfth Night

Director Owen Horsley’s (Henry VI: Rebellion, Wars of the Roses, Royal Shakespeare Company) version of Twelfth Night is set by the seaside and has been described as being full of mischief, offering “splashes of fun”.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, to June 8; buy tickets here

Multiple Casualty Incident

Olivier-nominated writer Sami Ibrahim (two Palestinians go dogging) and Olivier-nominated director Jaz Woodcock-Stewart (Paradise Now!) present a play that asks questions about the world’s extreme inequalities through the story of a group of medical staff training for eventually working in war zones. As they go through the course, their own conflicts quickly arise.

The Yard Theatre, to June 8; buy tickets here

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson in Long Day’s Journey into Night (Johan Persson)
Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson in Long Day’s Journey into Night (Johan Persson)

In Jeremy Herrin’s new rendition of Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical, Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the ever-magnetic Brian Cox stars alongside the wonderful Patricia Clarkson, Daryl McCormack and Laurie Kynaston. “I promised myself I wouldn’t make too many comparisons between Cox’s sublime turn in the best TV show in recent years, and his towering performance here,” said the Standard. “But, you know, f**k it: this is O’Neill for the Succession generation.”

Wyndham’s Theatre, to June 8; buy tickets here

Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York)

 (Marc Brenner)
(Marc Brenner)

Transferring to the West End after a sell out run at Kiln Theatre (which the Standard described as a “charming two-person musical that riffs on New York romcoms”) this new piece from Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, directed by Tim Jackson, is about the blossoming friendship between upbeat Brit Dougal and New Yorker Robin, his new aunt courtesy of his dad’s second marriage.

Criterion Theatre, to July 14; buy tickets here

Between Riverside and Crazy

Another work from director Michael Longhurst, Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2014 play is about a retired New York City policeman’s relationship with his son, Junior, who has just been released from jail.

Hampstead Theatre, to June 15; buy tickets here

The Hills of California

Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem, The Ferryman) is back with frequent collaborator Sam Mendes for this new play about family, time and guilt. The Webb sisters gather in their mother’s Blackpool guesthouse during the summer of 1976 as she lies dying upstairs. The Standard called it a “flawed masterpiece on a par with Jerusalem”.

Harold Pinter Theatre, to June 15; buy tickets here

Player Kings

 (Manuel Harlan)
(Manuel Harlan)

This thrilling new adaptation from Robert Icke, former associate director at the Almeida, combines parts one (first published in 1596) and two (1600) of Shakespeare's beloved Henry IV plays. 84-year-old Ian McKellen stars as roguish knight Falstaff alongside Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso) as Hal and Richard Coyle (Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore) as King Henry IV. Icke also directs.

Noël Coward Theatre, to June 22; buy tickets here

London Tide

This exciting new play, a reimagining of Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, has been directed by Ian Rickson (Translations), adapted by Ben Power (The Lehman Trilogy), and boasts original songs throughout written by PJ Harvey and Ben Power.

NT’s Lyttelton, to June 22; buy tickets here

The Cherry Orchard

Nina Hoss and Adeel Akhtar in The Cherry Orchard (Johan Persson)
Nina Hoss and Adeel Akhtar in The Cherry Orchard (Johan Persson)

“Revelatory. That’s the word for Australian director Benedict Andrews’s updated version of Chekhov’s 1904 tale,” said the Standard in its five-star review. Nina Hoss stars as Ranevskaya and Adeel Akhtar stars as Lopakhin in this extraordinary story about a Russian landowner who sells her family’s indebted estate to a former serf, who plans to chop down its cherry orchard.

Donmar Warehouse, to June 22; buy tickets here

Passing Strange

This Tony Award-winning rock musical, which opened on Broadway in 2008, is about a young musician’s journey from middle-class L.A. to the punk rock scenes of Amsterdam and Berlin, via some of the protests that were rocking the world in the Eighties.

Young Vic, to July 6; buy tickets here

Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Lauryn Redding, Laura Pitt-Pulford and the cast of Standing at the Sky's Edge in the West End (Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)
Lauryn Redding, Laura Pitt-Pulford and the cast of Standing at the Sky's Edge in the West End (Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

This glorious musical, which has already won an Olivier award and enjoyed sold-out runs at the National Theatre and the Crucible in Sheffield, is now in the West End. Set in Sheffield, it follows the lives of three generations in the brutalist Park Hill housing estate over six decades.

Gillian Lynne Theatre, to August 3; buy tickets here

People, Places and Things

Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things, directed by Jeremy Herrin and starring Denise Gough, was first staged in the Dorfman Theatre in 2015 and picked up rave reviews, winning two Olivier awards. Now the trio are back with a revival of the stellar play about an actress coping with addiction. “I’ve rarely seen a show where script, production and star mesh so perfectly,” said the Standard. “Lightning strikes twice in this triumphant revival.”

Trafalgar Theatre, to August 10; buy tickets here

Much Ado About Nothing

Sean Holmes’s take on Shakespeare’s beloved comedy was described by the Standard as joyful and intelligent: “Amalia Vitale and Ekow Quartey are arch and spirited as the central, wittily unwilling lovers”, it said about the sunkissed production.

Shakespeare’s Globe, to August 25; buy tickets here

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

Stranger Things: The First Shadow (Netflix)
Stranger Things: The First Shadow (Netflix)

The blockbuster opening of last year was this prequel to the ridiculously popular Netflix show. Set in the small town of Hawkins in 1959 – “before the world turned upside down” – it finds some of the much-loved characters in their youth, and when a new student arrives, the shadows of the past arrive too.

The Phoenix Theatre, booking to August 25; buy tickets here

Spirited Away

Olivier and Tony Award-winning Canadian director John Caird’s sell-out Japanese stage adaptation of Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki’s acclaimed 2001 animation, has finally arrived in London. Featuring some original cast members – including Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, who both play Chihiro – the play is presented in Japanese with English-language captions. A live orchestra plays Joe Hisaishi’s original music, which has been specially arranged by Brad Haak (Disney’s Mary Poppins, Elton John’s Lestat). Gorgeous!

London Coliseum, to August 25; buy tickets here

Sister Act

First it was a well-loved 1992 crime comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, then it became a hit 2006 musical, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner. Now enjoying its tenth production – its fifth in the UK – Sister Act, which is about a mobster’s girlfriend who is placed under witness protection disguised as a nun, remains a total hoot.

In its latest iteration, Olivier Award-winner Beverley Knight (who cedes the role of Deloris to Alexandra Burke from June 10) stars alongside Gavin and Stacey co-creator Ruth Jones, Lesley Joseph (Birds of a Feather), Clive Rowe (The Story of Tracy Beaker), and Lizzie Bea (Hairspray).

Dominion Theatre, to August 31; buy tickets here

MJ The Musical

MJ the Musical on Broadway (Publicity Picture)
MJ the Musical on Broadway (Publicity Picture)

An exercise in separating the art from the artist: two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and Tony Award-winning director Christopher Wheeldon have made a jukebox musical about Jackson’s life that has been pulling in mixed reviews, but has been adored by the fans. After premiering on Broadway in 2021, over 1.1 million people went to see the New York production.

Prince Edward Theatre, to September 14; buy tickets here

Fawlty Towers, The Play

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before John Cleese and Connie Booth’s Fawlty Towers, the treasured comedy series that’s frequently cited as one of the greatest ever British TV sitcoms, was turned into a play. Now the story of a hapless hotel owner trying to run a business with his wife, has opened in the West End, being described by the Standard as an “efficient and energetic stage adaptation”.

Apollo Theatre, to September 28; buy tickets here

Priscilla The Party

Described as an “all-singing, all-dancing immersive party and musical theatre extravaganza”, Priscilla The Party (which is an updated version of the musical adaptation of the 1994 film, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) comes to Outernet as a sensory all-guns-blazing “experience”.

Here @ Outernet, to May 26; buy tickets here

Hadestown

This multi-Tony award-winning musical by Anaïs Mitchell is based on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. After running at the National Theatre a few years back it’s finally getting its time in the West End.

Lyric Theatre, to December; buy tickets here