No matter when you visit London’s West End, there are always spectacular shows waiting to take your breath away. Whether it’s a long-running musical such as Les Misérables or Wicked, a more recent big hit such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or a future classic such as Hamilton, you certainly won’t leave disappointed.
Amongst all the famous shows and star-studded casts is a whole host of newly debuted theatre each year, whether it be independent offerings or ambitious new shows at more established theatres. Here we’ve chosen our favourite three from 2017.
Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman was the fastest selling play in Royal Court Theatre history and the most successful play of 2017. The Ferryman is set in Northern Ireland, taking place in rural Derry at the height of the Troubles in 1981. During preparations for the annual harvest, the Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity, until a visitor interrupts celebrations.
The play was inspired by real cast member Laura Donnelly’s true-life story, with the disappearance and murder of her uncle having prompted Butterworth to create this ambitious show telling the story of the Disappeared. The play is a domestic tragedy, set in the kitchen of a single farmhouse, yet its plot is complex and its characters crackle with life. Having transferred to the West End in June, theatre-goers can still experience this epic three-and-a-half-hour heart stopper.
This was Emma Rice’s final production as artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, and it has been a wonderful high note for her to leave upon. We didn’t expect our favourite 2017 show from the Globe to be a musical, but this one was wonderfully endearing, heart-warming and sweet.
The show follows the story of two painfully shy chocolate-makers who fall in love and is a musical adaptation of the 2010 French film ‘Les Emotifs Anonymes’. The score, from Christopher Dimon and Michale Kooman, is beautifully created and as sweet as the show’s subject matter. Here is a musical that celebrates the underdog and is painfully relatable to anyone who is prone to spells of awkwardness and anxiety. With plenty of funny and light-hearted moments accompanying those with real poignancy, this show is perfectly balanced and a sweet treat for all.
This year’s revival of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Hamlet was adapted and directed by Robert Icke, Associate Director of the Almeida Theatre. Though we’ve seen the play transform at the hand of directors in the past, this version was particularly fantastic and startlingly beautiful as doubt was cast on a story we thought we knew. Icke’s intention was to make the audience wonder whether Claudius, played by Angus Wright, did in fact commit the murder, with his confession presented as though it could have been a hallucination of Hamlet’s after all.
Andrew Scott’s Hamlet was something special indeed, played with spectacular raw emotion despite the role being an infamously challenging one. The popularity of the play during its run at the Almeida meant it received a well-deserved transfer to the West End from June, moving to the 800-capacity Harold Pinter Theatre. The show at both venues was truly terrific and moving.
If you haven’t seen them yet for yourself, you can still catch Romantics Anonymous and The Ferryman at The Globe and Gielgud theatres. To experience the best pre-theatre dinner in London before any show, make sure you visit M Victoria Street. As one of the West End’s finest restaurants and conveniently located near the Apollo Victoria Theatre, M Restaurant Victoria offer a great value menu with premium ingredients and outstanding service. Find out more