Ah, Valentine’s Day, the day of the year where you love your spouse/partner/latest Tinder find more than any other. What better way to express your joy at having them in your life than with a trip to the theatre? But what to see?
Fear not, we’d hate the course of true love to run anything but smooth, so we have some suggestions to suit almost any taste. You’re very welcome.
For the romantic
Oh Valentine’s Day is made for you, isn’t it? The flowers. The chocolates. The hand holding through a sun-dappled forest. Top off the celebration of love with an evening of which Cupid himself would be jealous – for the little nappy-wearing archer loves a sly trip to the theatre – and pop along to the National Theatre to catch Shakespeare’s tale of love overcoming banishment, confusion and crossdressing, As You Like It.
Alternatively, classic musical Guys And Dolls is a romantic, fun-packed treat with not one but two love-struck couples and more glorious songs than you can shake a petrol station-bought bunch of flowers at.
For the sports fan
Look no further than Bend It Like Beckham The Musical. It has football, a love story, family dramas, a wonderful score and maybe – and we don’t want to give too much away – a surprise appearance. Sort of. Perfect for the soccer lover in your life. Back of the net.
For the music lover
The West End is packed with ideal shows for a couple of pop pickers to snuggle down to around Valentine’s Day. It all depends on your musical taste:
Why do birds suddenly appear… and so on. Is there a more romantic songwriter than Burt Bacharach? Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined brings a host of the musical legend’s songs to the stage. And lead Kyle Riabko plays a guitar whilst hugging Steph McKeon. That’s love personified, right there.
You’re just too good to be true… and so on. Another classic passion-filled tune of the heart, this time from Frankie Valli. But with gangsters, ne’er-do-wells and four boys from the wrong side of the tracks, Jersey Boys comes with a little more bite.
You make me feel like a natural woman… and so on. The tale of a writer of gorgeous songs with a love story thrown in to boot, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical also boasts the Top Gun classic You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. So, you know, something for everyone.
For a laugh
If the smushy romantic stuff isn’t your bag – I know, I’m not one for PDAs either. Yuk, I say – laugh your way through your Valentine’s trip to the West End with the show that will make your error-strewn love life look like plain sailing, The Play That Goes Wrong, where everything, well, you get the idea.
For the big wedding hint
One show has been staging a wedding in the West End since time began (well a decade or so, at least). The Knowing-Me-Knowing-You-ing, wetsuit-flaunting, biological-Dad-discovering, Lyrca-clad behemoth of pop gloriousness that is Mamma Mia!. Need to put a wedding in the spotlight? Then this is your show.
For the slightly glum
Sometimes we don’t want a happy ever after. Sometimes seeing other perfect relationships is not the way forward. Sometimes we need to revel in dysfunctional, failed romances played out to world-beating, timeless scores. And if that’s the situation we have a triumvirate of shows where *SPOILERS* things don’t go as planned:
Gothic mask-wearer seduces/kidnaps ingénue instead of taking her for a cheeky Nandos – see The Phantom Of The Opera.
French revolution and stray bullets get in the way of young, unrequited love like an angry style-cramping parent – check out Les Misérables.
Gentlemen’s club in war torn country proves inappropriate meeting place for lasting relationship, much like Tiger, Tiger – you’ll want Miss Saigon.
For the horror-lover
We’ve all seen the movies, so we all know that a little bit of fear is great for a date. It will undoubtedly lead to hand holding, arms round shoulders and general huddling together for protection. Nothing. More. Romantic. Try The Woman In Black, it’s been bringing couples together in abject fear and giving them the willies since 1989.
For a sci-fi fan
Fancy something more tuneful than The Force Awakens? Telling the story of an alien invasion, The War Of The Worlds is Jeff Wayne’s classic album brought to the stage in a production that features Liam Neeson created by holography. Has there ever been anything more sci-fi on the London stage? Also, it stars David Essex and Jimmy Nail. Yes, you heard me.
For the terminally indecisive
Seriously? None of these are doing it for you? Did I not have an option for fans of goats riding surfboards? I can still help. Give your significant other Theatre Tokens. That way they can pick their own show. Or ride the wave of spontaneity – who said that the fun has gone from your relationship?! – and head to TKTS to see what deals our good friends there have on offer.
Just call me Cupid.
National Theatre Olivier
Her Majesty's Theatre