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Andrzej Lukowski

Andrzej Lukowski

Andrzej Lukowski has been the theatre and dance editor of Time Out London since 2013.

He mostly writes about theatre and also has additional editorial responsibility for dance, comedy and opera. He has lived in London a decade and has probably spent about a year of that watching productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He covered podcasts for about five minutes during lockdown and gets about a million podcast emails a day now but honestly can’t help you, sorry.

Oczywiście on jest Polakiem.

Reach him at [email protected] or connect with him on Twitter @MrLukowski

Articles (181)

London theatre critics’ choice

London theatre critics’ choice

Our regularly-updated round-up of the very best shows and plays you can currently see on London’s stages, from massive West End musicals to cool fringe theatre productions – as recommended by the Time Out theatre team

The best London walking tours

The best London walking tours

London’s one of the most walkable capital cities in the world. Indeed, in many ways, London is the anti-L.A.: here people think you’re mad if you do drive a car around town. Besides, nothing quite lets you get to know a city like a good walk around – after all, London existed long before there were any forms of public or private transport more sophisticated than a horse. Sure, bus and boat tours are good, but there’s nothing quite like a London walking tour. From basic sightseeing treks to specialised theme tours, whether you’ve got a day, an afternoon or just an hour, there’s some sort of tour out there for you. Buckle up, folks: here’s our pick of the best walking tours in London Need more sightseeing inspiration? Check out our list of 101 things to do in London. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.

‘We spent five days in hell’ – Belarus Free Theatre returns from the brink

‘We spent five days in hell’ – Belarus Free Theatre returns from the brink

Early March 2020 was my second trip out to the Belarussian capital of Minsk to visit the astonishingly brave underground theatre company Belarus Free Theatre. The first time, in 2018, its searingly political shows took place in what was basically an anonymous suburban garage, with audiences invited at the last minute via a WhatsApp mailing list. The company was officially banned by the repressive regime of the country’s dictatorial president Victor Lukashenko, and there had been recent, violent clampdowns. Some years ago, Belarus Free Theatre’s leaders, Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Koliada, had been forced to flee to the UK for fear of arrest. However, despite being an international cause célèbre who performed through Europe and North America, BFT remained dedicated to and based in its home country, with Khalezin and Koliada directing shows remotely. A couple of years on, and things were looking up. ‘Dogs of Europe’, its new one, was playing at… well not quite a theatre, but a found space, and a big one at that, with a bar and a sign outside informing passers-by what was going on inside. The company remained officially banned, but in a clandestine way relations with the government had simmered down, with no ‘incidents’ since last time I’d been out. The play was BFT’s adaptation of Belarusian author Alhierd Bacharevic’s sprawling dystopian-noir novel about a future in which all memory of Belarus has been lost, its memory trampled by a future Russian superstate. ‘Dogs of Europe

Which Hogwarts House are you? Find out with our Harry Potter house quiz

Which Hogwarts House are you? Find out with our Harry Potter house quiz

Over 20 years since the first film and a quarter-century since the first book, Harry Potter’s grip on the popular imagination is as strong as ever. JK Rowling’s boy wizard Harry and his pals Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger remain true icons, their nemesis Voldemort one of the all-time iconic villains. And that means there’s one question that simply won‘t go away: what house would I be in? Yes, it is admittedly a question that a lot of people have asked over the years. But only your old pals at Time Out offers a shamelessly London-centric spin on the age-old quandary of which of the four Hogwarts houses the wizarding school’s semi-sentient Sorting Hat would put you in. Because, anybody who knows their wizarding stuff knows that the houses – that’s Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Slytherin – aren't just for organising broomstick-based sports teams. They go beyond quidditch: they’re a way of life. The Sorting Hat isn’t random: it sees deep into your soul to define – once and for all – which Hogwarts house is yours to stake a claim to. That definitely 100% entirely goes for this particular Harry Potter house quiz, which was first written to celebrate the launch of Jack Thorne and JK Rowling’s play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ back in 2016 – and it’s the only one giving you the chance to get your London life sorted in the process. Answer the 11 city-based questions below and KAPOW: like magic, your existence in the capital will suddenly make sense.   If you’d like

The best new London theatre for 2022 – shows not to miss

The best new London theatre for 2022 – shows not to miss

Touch wood, but there's every reason to think that 2022 will be the first year since 2019 that London’s theatres won’t have been forced to close en masse as a result of the global pandemic. We’re not out of the woods yet, but theatre survived 2020 and 2021 and it’s not going away any time soon. So with just the tiniest note of caution, let’s get excited for London theatre in 2022, as the plays, musicals and other good stuff we’re used to by-and-large return to how they were. These choices aren’t the be-all and end-all of great theatre in 2022, but they are, as a rule, the biggest and splashiest shows of the year, the big highlights in the year’s theatre diary – the shows worth booking for, pronto. Want to see if these shows live up to the hype? Check out our theatre reviews.

Children's theatre in London - the best shows for kids of all ages

Children's theatre in London - the best shows for kids of all ages

It's never to early to introduce kids to the magic of theatre, and London's bursting with shows that'll delight junior audiences. There are gentle puppet shows for babies and toddlers. Rainbow bright, song-stuffed adventures for young kids. Smart dramas that are sure to hold teenagers rapt. And spectacular musicals that'll get the whole family on side. Our kids’ theatre page normally contains information for children’s shows running in London theatres this month and next month, and is broken down into three categories. Theatre for all the family is suitable for any age, including adults without children. Theatre for older children is specifically aimed at school-age children and teenagers. Theatre for babies, pre-schoolers and younger children does what the title suggests, and also includes shows suitable for younger school-age children.  

The best new theatre shows opening in London March 2022

The best new theatre shows opening in London March 2022

It’s March and – touch wood – London theatre seems to be pretty much back to normal. Check out the best new shows, plays and musicals coming to London this month, as recommended by our critics, plus a round-up of the best previously reviewed transfers moving to the West End or elsewhere. To play further ahead, check out our top shows to see this year. Also check out our latest theatre reviews.  And if you need somewhere to stay, see the best hotels near the West End.  RECOMMENDED: Find the best West End theatre shows.

London musicals

London musicals

There are a hell of a lot of musicals running in London at any given time, from decades-long classics like ‘Les Miserables and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ to short run fringe obscurities. Here we round up every West End musical currently running or coming soon, plus fringe and off-West End shows that we’ve reviewed – all presented in fabulous alphabetical order.

101 things to do in London with kids

101 things to do in London with kids

Whether you’re looking to entertain a restless toddler, a curious five-year-old, a noisy ten-year-old or a bored teenager, you’re living in the right city. There are endless things to do with kids in London. Many of the city's museums and galleries have special drop-in sessions where children can get creative or try hands-on activities and there’s a wealth of outdoor options, from high-concept adventure playgrounds to gorgeous open parks. Even better, many of the greatest places for families are free to visit, stretching your budget further for those must-do attractions that aren’t. Read on to find the best things to entertain or amaze your family.  

The 15 best true crime podcasts to listen to in 2022

The 15 best true crime podcasts to listen to in 2022

There’s much more to the world of podcasts than true crime, but there’s no denying that true crime dominates the podcasting world. Spurred on by the almost incomprehensibly vast success of 2014’s ‘Serial’, the standard true crime cast now has a very recognisable form, usually revolving around an intrepid investigative reporter drilling into a criminal case – often a cold one – and shedding new light on it throughout a multi-part documentary that goes deeper than any TV show would likely be allowed to. But crime isn’t just dead bodies: this eclectic list touches on everything from a podcast about British colonial looting to a reappraisal of Jack the Ripper’s victims. RECOMMENDED: The best podcasts to listen to in 2022 Still looking for more? Check out our definitive list of the best podcasts to listen to right now. Plus, we’ve got our very own podcast – ‘your city or mine?’ – in which Time Out Group CEO Julio Bruno talks to thought-leaders and pioneers about the innovations and ideas shaping our cities.

The best options for flower delivery in Los Angeles

The best options for flower delivery in Los Angeles

You know that moment when you realize that tomorrow is Valentine's Day and you’ve arranged nothing? Yup: we've all been there. But you don’t need to worry, because Los Angeles is full of fantastic online florists who offer same-day and next-day delivery. We’re not talking humdrum flowers either: from floral shops focused on classic roses, precious orchids and bargain blooms to more one-of-a-kind offerings like tropical succulents, floral buds and even dried bouquets, LA has last-minute flower options to fit every occasion. You’ll definitely be able to find something to turn your moment of forgetfulness into a triumph and you can tailor your gift with ease, be the recipient a botanical garden aficionado or somebody who never remembers to water their flowers (may we suggest an eco-friendly snake plant). You can also find plenty more personalized add-ons and gifts to give your arrangement a special touch. Think hand-written notes, ceramic pots, mason jars and gift sets that include everything from jewelry, candles and handmade soaps to sweets like Sugarfina candy, Godiva chocolate and s'mores kits. Honestly, everything you could need within the romantic world of flowers is here – and it'll be delivered nice and promt, so you never need walk to the gas station in a sweaty panic only to return with limp blooms. Never. Again. Now, you can find it all and more in our definitive guide to the best online flower delivery services in Los Angeles. Need more help? Why not book a table at

Reviews (758)

‘After the End’ review

‘After the End’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Reviving a drama about a nuclear war might seem dangerously on the nose in March 2022. But actually that’s the bit of Dennis Kelly’s 2005 play that’s the least triggering. All you need to know in that respect is that as ‘After the End’ begins, awkward nerd Mark (Nick Blood) and his popular coworker Louise (Amaka Okafor) are cooped up in an old nuclear fallout shelter. It actually belongs to Mark (it came with his flat), which is handy, because there appears to have been an actual nuclear attack. They don’t exactly know what’s happened: the play being from the era it’s from, Mark’s suspicion is that it’s ‘somebody with a beard’. But the point is, they’re stuck in the shelter. Other things that have happened since ‘After the End’ premiered at the Bush Theatre are the blockbuster success of the films ‘Room’ and ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’. The genre of creepy guy and spunky woman locked up in a confined space together is not vast, but it had a moment in the sun in the mid-’10s, in a way that makes some of the plot twists of ‘After the End’ ahead of its time when it premiered, but less so now. Nonetheless, this is a fine, tense production from Lindsay Turner, and there is a subtle absurdist humour to it that perhaps holds it back from being quite as gruelling as one might expect. It is still pretty gruelling. At first, Mark and Louise are essentially friends, united by the situation, idly discussing office gossip, Louise mostly happy to defer to Mark’s running of their lives on the gro

‘Henry V’ review

‘Henry V’ review

4 out of 5 stars

The Donmar’s Kit Harington-starring take on Shakespeare’s usually zippy war play is BIG. Really big. This is ‘Henry V’ given the widescreen treatment, the stage equivalent to a luxury miniseries adaptation, stretching a full half-hour longer than most productions. It’s the first version I’ve seen in which every single scene is given room to breathe - even the dopey throwaway ones like the French army bantering the night before battle.  Director Max Webster’s world-building is immaculate and classy. Fly Davis’s set is simple but grand: a massive, burnished steps and wall, that later opens to reveal a baleful St. George’s cross. But we’re transported across England and France via lush, elemental projection from Andrzej Goulding. The French characters speak in actual (surtitled) French, not the usual accented English. There are frickin’ opera singers in the cast: four of them, singing grandiose, sanctified laments over the unfolding action. Whatever the actual budget, there is the sense of no expense spared. And yet none of this is thrown away in empty bombast. Webster’s production is carefully structured to make the story as lucid as humanly possible, with the biggest chunk of the added running time coming from a new intro crafted from bits of ‘Henry IV’. Flashing back to his wilder days, the show kicks off with Harington’s gurning Henry vomming over the stage to a remix of ‘Sweet Caroline’, followed by a compressed version of his friendship with and rejection of Steven Meo’s o

‘The Merchant of Venice’ review

‘The Merchant of Venice’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Despite being trimmed to just two hours, Abigail Graham’s production of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ takes a surprisingly long time to get to the point. Let’s fast forward to the jaw-dropping final scene, a brilliant, virtuosic piece of psychological horror in which the tables are turned on Adrian Schiller’s dignified, possibly slightly neurodivergent Jewish moneylender Shylock. Obliged by honour to claim a fatal ‘pound of flesh’ from Antonio (Michael Gould), a Venetian merchant who has defaulted on a loan to him, Shylock instead finds the tables turned as the play’s Christian characters effectively gang up to mercilessly crush him. The scene is played virtually slo-mo, in moody half-light, with doomy percussion roiling in the background and the rest of the cast staring at Shylock with terrifyingly blank expressions while his daughter Jessica (Eleanor Wyld) sings a keening lament. It is a searingly visceral climax to the production, that picks out the antisemitism of Shakespeare’s characters with exquisite remorselessnes. Yes, every modern production of ‘Merchant’ has to square the fact that – taken at face value – it has a ‘happy ending’ that’s unpalatably antisemitic. But Graham goes way further than most, with the violence in Shylock’s undoing underscored by the director’s bold decision to simply hack out the final scene of the play, leaving it raw and bleeding as it ends in darkness and despair. The director has a firm grasp on what she wants to do with Schiller’s impassive b

‘The Collaboration’ review

‘The Collaboration’ review

3 out of 5 stars

No getting away from it, ‘The Collaboration’ is fanfic. It’s a witty, stirring and slightly cringey drama in which playwright and two-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter  Antony McCarten imagines all the cool and profound things that Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat said to each other when they collaborated IRL together during the ’80s. Which is fair enough: it’s a play *about* Warhol and Basquiat that uses the fact of their time together as a pretext to explore each man’s undoubtedly fascinating soul. The trouble is, they’re both so massively iconic as pop-cultural figures that it’s difficult to write them as serious characters without it seeming rather gauche, no matter how smart the dialogue. But as sheer entertainment, Kwame Kwei-Armah’s production goes all out, from Anna Fleischle’s cool loft-apartment sets and Duncan McLean’s evocative projections, to a banging soundtrack that runs from Bronski Beat to Miles Davis and actual live DJing from Xana.  There are also a couple of titanic lead performances. In a play with only four roles, two of them minor, a huge amount rests on the leads. And Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope really, really deliver. Best known for playing posh android Vision in the MCU films, Bettany is a strange and riveting Warhol. Simultaneously sincere and affected, he’s the more loquacious of the two artists, and seems honest to a fault, answering any question put to him at enormous, apparently entirely truthful length. But Warhol holds entrenched views on

‘Running with Lions’ review

‘Running with Lions’ review

4 out of 5 stars

This is quite a debut from playwright Sian Carter, a beautifully observed drama about a British-Jamaican family struggling to face up to tragedy, that effortlessly fills the Lyric Hammersmith’s venerable stage. In an opening flashback scene set in 2004, we meet Gloria (Velile Tshabalala) and Joshua (Nickcolia King-N’da), an almost supernaturally harmonious brother and sister duo who are bidding each other a fond farewell as she prepares to move out of their parents’ house and in with her boyfriend. He, meanwhile, has a bright career as an artist ahead of him. Everything looks golden… but then we skip forward to the present. Gloria is just about to return from a spell in a psychiatric institution and Joshua has ominously disappeared. The focus shifts to their elderly Windrush Generation parents, old smoothie Maxwell (Wil Johnson) and prim and proper Shirley (Suzette Llewellyn), plus Gloria’s bright teenage daughter, Imani (Ruby Barker) who has been living with her grandparents. ‘Running with Lions’ is a drama about picking up the pieces, and just about how hard it is for a group of people who love each other to know how to treat each other. It is not formally unusual in any way, but in Michael Buffong’s assured Talawa co-production it is absolutely beautifully observed, with the heart of it the relationship between Tsahabalala’s damaged, vulnerable, somewhat self-absorbed Gloria and Llewelyn’s Shirley, forever in denial about the state of her daughter’s mental health. Despite

‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’ review

‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’ review

4 out of 5 stars

‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’ returns to the West End for its third run in a year, this time transferring to the Gielgud Theatre. Cast is TBA, and will be different to the one in the below review, which is from August 2021 and the play’s first run. The plot of Danny Robins’s ‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’ revolves around Sam, an astronomer and inveterate know-it-all – played to excruciating perfection by Hadley Fraser – who believes he has the answer to everything. Specifically, we’re talking about the existence of ghosts: Sam does not believe in them, and it’s not really a spoiler to say Sam is proven very wrong. Well I can relate to Sam here, as I went into ‘2:22’ firmly believing I had its number, and I’m happy to say I did not. Still, I had my reasons. Number one, horror plays that aren’t called ‘The Woman in Black’ tend to be terrible. Number two, writer Robins comes into the West End on the back of a zeitgeisty paranormal podcast (‘The Battersea Poltergeist’), but his actual playwrighting CV is pretty obscure. And number three, it stars Lily Allen: nothing personal against the chart-topping singer (who to be fair has at least dabbled with acting before) but the West End is littered with the bones of forgotten celebrity vanity projects.  I can’t really get into forensic details about ‘2:22’s plot because I think even the wrong veiled allusion might prove spoilery for an ending that completely blindsided me. But on a basic level Robins has written a cracking dinner party play, alive wit

Cock

Cock

Mike Bartlett has had much bigger hits than 2009’s ‘Cock’, both on stage (‘King Charles III’) and screen (‘Doctor Foster’). But his tartly-named satirical drama about a man named John struggling to choose between his long-term male partner and a charming woman could reasonably be called his breakthrough play. It bagged excellent reviews and perhaps only missing out on a transfer from the tiny Royal Court Upstairs because the cast – Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott, Katherine Parkinson – were possibly too busy for another run. Anyhoo, 13 years on, and Mike Bartlett’s ‘Cock’ is back, in a new production directed by the marvellous Marianne Elliott. And it includes some heavyweight names: ‘Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey plays John, film star Taron Egerton (pictured) makes his West End debut as his unnamed partner, and rising star Jade Anouka as the woman, with Phil Daniels as the partner’s dad. It’s an impressive cast, and they’re playing the Ambassadors for a full 12 weeks: finally, London gets the ‘Cock’ it deserves.

‘The Forest’ review

‘The Forest’ review

3 out of 5 stars

With ‘The Forest’, French playwright Florian Zeller truly cements his status as the M Night Shyamalan of tense domestic dramas about upper-middle-class French people. He writes shortish, accessible plays that are essentially extremely middlebrow, but also furiously gripping, largely because there’s always a bloody twist. ‘The Forest’ starts how you expect it to start: innocuously. We meet the protagonist, played by Toby Stephens (his official billing in the script is ‘Man 1’, though he would appear to be named Pierre). He is a successful senior doctor who has just got home to his elegant wife (Gina McKee, billed as ‘Wife’ but probably named Laurence) and their visiting adult daughter Sara (Millie Brady), who is sad about her break-up with her boyfriend. At one point attention is drawn to a bouquet of flowers on the table: a patient’s wife has sent them as a thank you for successful surgery on her husband’s leg. Next – in a higher, previously concealed section of Anna Fleischle's box-of-tricks set – we meet another middle-aged-man (Paul McGann, aka ‘Man 2’) in bed with Sophie (Angel Coulby), the sparky young woman he is having an affair with: the scene is relatively sunny and sedate, though she becomes somewhat agitated that he won’t break things off with his wife. Then we’re back in the home of McKee and Stephens’s characters. They have some guests around for tea. All pretty ho-hum. Except inexplicably, McKee gives their friends a drastically different explanation of where th

‘The Chairs’ review

‘The Chairs’ review

4 out of 5 stars

Eugene Ionesco’s 1952 comedy ‘The Chairs’ is one of those classic absurdist European texts that everyone feels like they probably ought to know, but very few people have actually seen a production of. Until now!  A few years back, director Omar Elerian scored a bona-fide West End hit with his production of Arinzé Kene’s metatheatrical shaggy dog story ‘Misty’, and it’s really not hard to guess what might have drawn him to ‘The Chairs’, which he reframes from a ‘tragic farce’ to… a metatheatrical shaggy dog story. The show begins with the curtain down, and a (supposedly) accidentally flipped tannoy switch leaving us privy to a backstage row, as Marcello Magni’s Old Man declares he is absolutely not going out on stage, while Elerian and Magni’s co-stars Kathryn Hunter and Toby Sedgwick try to talk him round. It is very sillly and very funny and sets the tone for Elerian’s production, which would seem to largely steer clear of the more obvious political subtext of Ionesco’s farce (until it kicks the hornets nest a bit at the very end), and instead enjoys revelling luxuriously in the bizarre comedy of it all. As you’d hope, the play features chairs, and lots of them To this end he is massively aided by his cast, in particular the extraordinary Hunter, who plays the Old Woman, wife to the Old Man’s. Married for 75 years and living in a world in which London has apparently been destroyed, they have suddenly decided to invite the whole of society around to their in order to tell th

‘Two Billion Beats’ review

‘Two Billion Beats’ review

3 out of 5 stars

This spirited coming-of-age drama from Sonali Bhattacharyya is by no means perfect, but it certainly has some neat ideas, and is given a likeable inaugural production by Nimmo Ismail. Asha (Safiyya Ingar) and Bettina (Anoushka Chadha) are British Indian sisters, both at the same secondary school in Leicester. As ‘Two Billion Beats’ begins, Chadha’s endearingly puppyish Bettina is trying to get her non-communicative elder sister to stop inscrutably loitering outside the school gates and come home with her. Asha grunts away grumpily, but a series of glimpses into her zingy inner monologue reveals that she’s borderline high on the experience of having written a punchy essay in which she critiqued Mahatma Gandhi for his conflict with the less remembered Indian politician BR Ambedkar, who wanted to end India’s oppressive caste system. Unfortunately this has massively pissed off her mum, which is why we find Asha killing time after school until her mum’s nightshift begins. Meanwhile, it becomes apparent Bettina has problems of her own: some kids have been bullying her on the bus home, and she’s clinging to Asha in the hope her big sister might lamp her oppressors. The most interesting thing about Bhattacharyya’s play is the manner by which Asha takes on board the teachings of Ambedkar – and later Sylvia Pankhurst – and ends up applying them to her own life: her outlook on the world shifts, but quite subtly and interestingly, with meaningful consequences for how the story plays out

King Lear

King Lear

Although all Globe outdoor shows are equal, some are clearly more equal than others, and it’s hard not to see this production of ‘King Lear’ starring the great Kathryn Hunter in the title role as anything other than the flagship play in the 2022 season. Hunter is one of the strangest, most striking stage actors of her times, and her relative cult status has been threatened by her acclaimed turn as all three of the Weird Sisters in Joel Coen’s Denzel Washington-starring ‘Macbeth’. Her craggy wildness feels well-suited to Shakespeare’s elemental tragedy of old age, and underscoring the fact it’s a special production, she’ll be joined by Globe boss Michelle Terry, who makes her traditional showing of the season as an actor to co-star in the dual roles of the Fool and Cordelia. Veteran Anglo-Polish director Helena Kaut-Howson helms matters, with design from Pawel Dobrzycki.

‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ review

‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ review

1 out of 5 stars

Yes, it is a big mistake. Yes, it is a huge mistake. It wafted over from Broadway on a miasma of bad reviews, so I was braced for this musical version of the clearly quite dated 1990 Julia Roberts smash to be a touch problematic.  In fact, ‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ is so witless that it defies any serious attempt to scrutinise its politics. Telling the story of Edward, a ruthless businessman whose life is changed on a visit to LA after he picks up Vivian, a free-spirited hooker, it is in fact no more about capitalism or sex work than it is about sports cars or cruise liners – all of these things are just plot points as Gary Marshall and JF Lawton’s book hauls itself wearily through its ‘Pygmalion’-like paces.  The film, of course, had Julia Roberts and Richard Gere to style it out. With the best will in the world, leading man Danny Mac is no Gere. But he doesn’t have much to work with. His Edward is a respectful, teetotal, pleasant guy whose only discernible personality traits are a fear of heights and being a remorselessly destructive vulture capitalist, something that is vaguely intimated as being down to daddy issues, but goes unexplored.  By the same token, Aimie Atkinson can hardly hold a candle to Roberts. But her Vivian is winningly goofy and the clear highlight of the production. Yet bulked out with songs, the whole set-up is baffling. Edward hires Vivian for six days on the grounds that he needs a dinner date, and a live-in hooker is less hassle than a girlfriend; 

News (386)

‘Cabaret’ leads the way in the 2022 Olivier Awards nominations

‘Cabaret’ leads the way in the 2022 Olivier Awards nominations

The nominations for the long-awaited 2022 Laurence Olivier Awards – the biggest and most prestigious theatre awards in the UK – are finally in, the first edition of the Oliviers since 2020 and the first since 2019 that’ll actually take place with the full in-person ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall. Not unexpectedly, the West End’s superdeluxe revival of Kander & Ebb’s ‘Cabaret’ leads the nominations, being up for a full 11 gongs, which is probably something you could have predicted even before seeing it, given the colossal names involved (notably stars Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley) and the fact that it involved a highly ambitious overhaul of the Playhouse Theatre (designer Tom Scutt and most of his technical team are up for something, as is director Rebecca Frecknall). There’s also a haul of nine nominations for the Barbican’s superlative summer production of ‘Anything Goes’, and perhaps surprisingly an equal number for current West End smash ‘Life of Pi’ – some innovative ways have been found to nominate the puppet-based production, including a best supporting actor nod for the seven performers playing the tiger, Richard Parker, and a best choreographer nomination for puppet director Finn Caldwell (both thoroughly deserved). Elsewhere and ‘Back to the Future’ did the best of the rest of the many musicals that opened last year with seven nominations; ‘Moulin Rouge!’ got five, ‘Frozen’ four, ‘Get Up, Stand Up!’ three, ‘The Drifters Girl’ two, while Andrew Lloyd Webber’s

Judi Dench, Adrian Lester, Michael Ball and more celebrate Stephen Sondheim with a special concert

Judi Dench, Adrian Lester, Michael Ball and more celebrate Stephen Sondheim with a special concert

Stephen Sondheim never actually got to visit the West End’s Sondheim Theatre after its name was changed from the Queen’s Theatre in 2019. Nor has it previously played host to any of its late namesake’s musicals: despite the name change, the theatre remains the base for the indestructible ‘Les Misérables’. Nonetheless, it provided a focal point for fans and mourners when the West End’s lights were dimmed in memory of the music-theatre titan last year. And now it’s the rightful home to a very special concert in the great man’s honour that’ll take place later this year. ‘Old Friends’ features British performers who’ve starred in Sondheim’s works over the decades, and features quite a guestlist, with Michael Ball, Petula Clark, Judi Dench, Daniel Evans, Bonnie Langford, Adrian Lester, Damian Lewis, Julia Mckenzie, Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, Clive Rowe, Imelda Staunton and Hannah Waddingham all featuring. And yes, they’ll all be singing: Sondheim was very much the actor’s songwriter, and the likes of Dench and Lester all performed in his musicals (in their cases ‘A Little Night Music’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’) back in the day, and will be doing rare reprisals this May. The show will be directed by Sondheim’s regular interpreter Maria Friedman, along with the great choreographer Matthew Bourne. More names will be added, but book this quick if you want a chance of seeing this once-in-a-lifetime celebration of one of the greatest artists who ever lived. ‘Old Friends’ is at the Sondhe

You can book £15 to £45 West End theatre tickets for the next fortnight as London Theatre Week returns

You can book £15 to £45 West End theatre tickets for the next fortnight as London Theatre Week returns

After successfully welcoming full-capacity theatre audiences back last autumn, the excellent West End ticket promotion London Theatre Week has moved back to its usual February/March slot for 2022 (lest we forget, it didn’t run at this time last year because all the theatres were closed).  Put simply, for the next couple of weeks (London Theatre Week is two weeks long for whatever reason) you can head over to the official site and book tickets to most major West End shows from a price range running from £15 to £45 – which is, not to put too fine a point on it, exceptional value considering most shows in Theatreland tend to have upper prices that spiral off well into triple figures. Certainly if you’ve ever dreamed of buying yourself a stalls seat and still having money left over for the overpriced wine, London Theatre Week is for you. Note that while the London Theatre Week booking period only runs for the next fortnight (until March 6), the tickets can be for whenever – several shows like ‘The Seagull’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie’ aren’t even starting for several months. While it doesn’t encompass literally every West End show (sorry, you’re not getting £45 ‘Cabaret’ tickets), the offer does account for most of them, including such perennially hot tickets as ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, ‘The Book of Mormon’ (pictured with old cast) and ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’. The complete list of shows on offer during London Theatre Week is:  ‘& Juliet’, ‘After the End’, ‘Anything Goes’,

‘The Masked Singer Live’ is coming to London with Jonathan Ross and Davina McCall as judges

‘The Masked Singer Live’ is coming to London with Jonathan Ross and Davina McCall as judges

Insofar as it’s possible to take ‘The Masked Singer’ entirely seriously, we can now rest assured that the ITV megasmash’s inaugural live incarnation is looking like pretty serious business, with the show’s big-name judges Jonathan Ross and Davina McCall confirmed to make special appearances at the show’s O2 and Wembley dates respectively.  They’ll be joining the show’s presenter Joel Dommett, plus Denise Van Outen and Aston Merrygold, who are serving as the regular judges on all touring dates.  Plus! Anonymous singing celebrities in stupid costumes! In case you’ve somehow missed the cultural phenomenon entirely, ‘The Masked Singer’ is a novelty singing contest in which famous people in all-concealing costumes must sing songs to the judges, who will guess at their identities, while the studio audience votes on who gets eliminated and unmasked at the end of each round. The live version is basically exactly the same thing in front of a much larger, IRL audience. And you can probably expect a similar-ish standard of anonymous celebrity, given they have to be famous enough for the judges to credibly be able to take a guess at (and the show tends to skew towards 'famous back in the day’ slebs as it is). There are also, thrillingly, brand new, never-before-seen costumes made especially for the tour – no dwelling on past glories.  ‘The Masked Singer Live’ plays at The O2 (Apr 3, with Jonathan Ross) and Wembley Arena (Apr 18, with Davina McCall). See more information here. Must-see th

‘Jagged Little Pill’ the musical is coming to the West End this autumn

‘Jagged Little Pill’ the musical is coming to the West End this autumn

Alanis Morissette’s 1995 grunge-pop album ‘Jagged Little Pill’ is one of the most successful records of all time, with over 30 million copies sold. Its angsty screeds on everything from exes to the Church – plus radical redefinition of the word ‘ironic’ – powered it to the status of one of the defining records of the ‘90s and – of course – of Morissette’s career: unsurprisingly it is vastly more successful than anything else she’s ever done. It casts such a shadow that inevitably this Broadway stage musical is just directly named after it: it’s both a still evocative name and confirmation that yes, all of ‘Jagged Little Pill’s songs will indeed be appearing here. With a book by Diablo Cody (‘Juno’ et al), ‘Jagged Little Pill’ won praise (and two Tonys), but had a somewhat bumpy ride overall, spending most of its official run on Covid-related hiatus, and picking up bad publicity for changing the character of Jo from nonbinary (in its initial pre-Broadway run) to cis (for Broadway). Apologies were issued by producers and a promise to do better, but it was a bit moot for the US production as it closed just a couple of months after reopening last year, stiffed by the Omicron wave. COMING TO LONDON'S WEST END FALL 2022. 💙For updates, visit: https://t.co/hZumflbUrG#JaggedLittleMusical #JaggedLittleBroadway pic.twitter.com/HC0iK8RdRT — Jagged Little Pill (@jaggedmusical) February 18, 2022 Which brings us to London. We don’t have a date or a theatre, but the show’s official ac

You can now get married at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

You can now get married at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

The iconic Theatre Royal Drury Lane has had the mother of all facelifts over the last several years, with owners Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber pouring a walloping £60m into giving the vast theatre – which opened in its present form in 1812 – a comprehensive revamp that stretches from doing up the auditorium to opening up lushly vegetated café-bar The Garden. Now, on Valentine’s Day 2022, they’ve announced that the icing on the cake is a new marriage license: if you’re looking for a wedding with some theatrical stardust then the Lane could be the place for you. Clearly there are some caveats here: it presumably costs an absolute bomb, and they’re unlikely to cancel a performance of current smash musical ‘Frozen’ to accommodate your nuptials (so the odds are you’ll have to have your extremely expensive wedding on a Monday or Tuesday). Still, it’s about as special a venue as you could hope for, and you don’t actively have to opt for the 2,000-seat main auditorium: The Garden and the Grand Saloon are both available.  The theatre will also be open late tonight for a Valentine’s Day ‘afternoon’ tea for couples with champagne costing £49 a head – there will be some walk-ins available if you’re failed to make a booking and are desperate to salvage something of the night. Find more information about booking Theatre Royal Drury Lane here. The best theatre to book in London in 2022. A-Z of musicals in London.

Brixton’s new, state-of-the-art theatre is opening this month

Brixton’s new, state-of-the-art theatre is opening this month

Brixton is a lot of great things, but ‘theatre mecca’ certainly hasn’t historically been one of them. But that’s all finally set to change this month as the frankly extremely long saga of its new theatre Brixton House finally concludes this month, as it throws open its door from February 24. Brixton House in fact used to be Ovalhouse, the influential fringe theatre (formerly known as Oval House) which you may or may not remember as being located in Oval, ie not Brixton. A move to a new purpose-built Brixton building has been in the works for absolutely aeons: the original building closing down in early March 2020, when new artistic director Gbolahan Obisesan (pictured) was appointed to lead things forward. The expectation was that it would all be ready in 2021. Well, that obviously didn’t happen, but it only missed it by a couple of months: Brixton House will open up for a couple of special performances on February 24, before going fully operational – cafe and all – from March 5. Although it’s difficult not to look at a new state-of-the-art, multimillion-pound theatre and not conclude that it’s part of Brixton’s endlessly controversial gentrification, it’s also not unreasonable to conclude that Brixton House is on the side of the angels, with a strong commitment to community orientation and diverse programming. Quoth Gbolahan Obisesan: ‘Brixton House will be a vital cultural beacon in Brixton and a home of creativity and expression for everyone. We want to attract, support, a

Jamie Lloyd: ‘It’s not just about having a nose on stage’

Jamie Lloyd: ‘It’s not just about having a nose on stage’

It was going to be such a good year: Jamie Lloyd’s wildly acclaimed James McAvoy-starring ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ was just about to go to New York; his production of ‘The Seagull’ featuring Emilia Clarke was in previews; and he had Jessica Chastain lined up for his next play. Then lockdown hit, and it all went out of the window. Two years on, ‘Cyrano’ and its star are back in London and ‘The Seagull’ is ready to fly again. We were expecting ‘The Seagull’ to return but it was a nice surprise to see ‘Cyrano’ again… ‘It just felt good to get everybody back together. We got asked to take it to BAM [in New York], but we wanted to be part of the reopening of the West End as well, to bring it back as a celebration – and create some jobs!’ It’s quite a far-out ‘Cyrano’. ‘You could actually do a very traditional production of Martin Crimp’s text. But it was a conscious decision to cast people who were into rap or spoken word. They make it their own, which is why the language often sounds like rap or slam poetry.’ Did you have any doubts about taking out Cyrano’s big nose? ‘There are great teachings in these classic plays: the big spiritual and philosophical questions of our history. Then with “The Seagull”, everyone is always like: have you got a samovar? And it’s so funny: that’s not what the play is about. With this, it’s just not about having a nose on stage.’ Photograph: Courtesy Marc BrennerCyrano de Bergerac James McAvoy is your regular leading man – what’s so special about him

The cast of ‘Dirty Dancing: The Musical’ will be serenading Waterloo station at 5pm today

The cast of ‘Dirty Dancing: The Musical’ will be serenading Waterloo station at 5pm today

If (you’ve had) the time of your life working in the office today and are heading home via Waterloo at 5pm, you’ll be thrilled to discover the cast of the West End’s musical version of ‘Dirty Dancing’ regaling you with a series of songs from the show, They’ll be in a special pop-up performance space that will be in residence until Sunday 13, after which it’ll move on to Victoria Station (Feb 16-20) and Charing Cross (Feb 23-27). The pop-ups are in association with Lucky Voice karaoke, and in addition to performances from West End musicals, we’re also promised ‘leading cabaret singers’ and ‘the chance for the public to unleash their inner diva’ by getting stuck in themselves.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by Dirty Dancing London Official (@ddonstage) It’s all part of an initiative from the Society of London Theatre called Show Time, designed to welcome commuters back to London and by extension its many delightful West End shows. Arguably listening to your fellow commuters screaming out musical theatre classics at deafening volume will make you long for the sweet release of WFH, but it’ll mostly be in the hands of professionals, plus it’s also flagging up a fine ticketing initiative wherein tickets for most major long-running West End shows will be on sale at a nice price of £10-£50 up until the end of March when you purchase from here. The best London theatre shows to book for in 2022. A-Z of musical theatre shows in London.

All 144 episodes of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ are coming to Wilton’s Music Hall

All 144 episodes of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ are coming to Wilton’s Music Hall

Okay, it turns out that show creator Joss Whedon was not the sound progressive chap we thought he was, but that shouldn’t serve to diminish the brilliance of his joyously irony-heavy ‘90s fantasy series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. Lest we forget it followed the life and times of Buffy Summers, a regular American schoolgirl who laid waste to legions of the undead alongside her various nerdy pals. It’s well worth a rewatch, and its enduring place in popular culture is confirmed by ‘Buffy Revamped’, a one-man stage show which sees comic Brendan Murphy retell the entire 144-episode arc over again through the eyes of Spike, the briefly menacing Billy Idolalike British vampire who goes from the main villain of series two to Buffy’s complicated love interest later on. A one-man, 70-minute condensed take may or may not sound like a horrible gimmick, but it’s worth noting that Murphy’s previous show ‘Friend’ did a fine job of retelling the entire saga of ‘Friends’ from the point of view of surly barista Gunther: yes, it was quippy and meta and wilful ‘90s nostalgia. But he found a genuinely thoughtful angle in imagining what Gunther’s take on Chandler and co’s decade of slobbing about might have been. Spike is a slightly more complicated character, who both missed more of ‘Buffy’ than Gunther did of ‘Friends’, but was much more involved when he was there. Still, he was also a whiny English bloke, and this sounds pretty entertaining for those who can reconcile their ‘Buffy’ fandom with

The RSC has teamed up with TikTok to offer cheap theatre tickets for young people

The RSC has teamed up with TikTok to offer cheap theatre tickets for young people

Venerable theatrical institution the Royal Shakespeare Company and of-the-moment youth-friendly social media platform TikTok maybe don’t seem like the most obvious of fits. But that’s kind of the point, and the RSC has landed quite a coup in persuading the Gen Z-friendly tech giant to partner with it in providing cheap tickets for 14-to-25-year-olds.  It’s a pretty simple deal: young people can book up to two £10 tickets per show in this year’s season, or £5 for previews. There’s also a small reduction in price for school groups (also down to £10 a student). And that’s pretty much it: there’s no requirement you actually do anything on Tik Tok, though there will be exclusive RSC content and takeovers coming your way on the platform throughout the year.  There is an emphasis on connecting with kids from low-income backgrounds and there will also be travel subsidies available to make a visit to the theatre more practical. This applies to the new RSC season, which launched this week with the announcement of new productions of ‘Richard III’ and ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’. At present there are no London dates, but it’s been confirmed the offer will apply to them when they do come along, and as a minimum the RSC invariably sets up residence at the Barbican at the end of the year. In the meantime to keep you busy why not look up the #shakespeare hashtag on TikTok and have your mind blown, or at the very least, confused. The best London theatre shows to book for in 2022. Shakespeare

An ultra-exclusive immersive theatre show is happening in the Churchill War Rooms

An ultra-exclusive immersive theatre show is happening in the Churchill War Rooms

An extremely exclusive immersive theatre show will let you live out your wildest WW2 fantasies by plunging you into the Churchill War Rooms. Built under the treasury building, the Rooms were constructed in 1938 as a command bunker for the British fightback against the German conquest of Europe, and have been open to the public as a tourist attraction under the auspices of the Imperial War Museum since the ’80s. But it isn’t every day that they come back to life. Immersive theatre company Wet Picnic’s new show ‘Operation Black Door’ will see them spring into service again – well a theatrical recreation thereof – as audience members step into the past and join the war effort, going on missions, cracking codes and saturating themselves with wartime London vibes while actors take on the roles of the Rooms’ staff. (You’re invited to don your own period dress if you should so desire.) Because the Churchill War Rooms can’t simply change purpose to indefinitely serve as an immersive theatre venue, the production run is limited, with just three nights of performances. So this is pretty much a one-off chance to travel back in time and sock it to Hitler and his boys, via the medium of puzzle-solving to some actors. At £35 a go it’s only a tenner more than a normal visit to the attraction, so if it sounds at all interesting, don’t miss this chance. ‘Operation Black Door’ is at Churchill War Rooms, Mar 10-12, £35. An immersive ‘Peaky Blinders’ show is coming to London. An immersive Gunpow