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24 September 2014

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Entrance ticketsUnsure what to commit your time and wallet to? Get a head start by browsing through our five-star recommendations to the best of London's current offerings...

If you missed its debut at the National Theatre in 2003, pull out all the stops to see the West End return of Elmina's Kitchen at the Garrick Theatre. Set on the mean streets of Hackney's Murder Mile, this is a powerful family drama that centres on café owner Deli's struggle to prevent his adolescent son from being dragged into a life of Yardie crime. Author Kwame Kwei-Armah - of Casualty and Celebrity Fame Academy renown - himself stars in Angus Jackson's production, which also features Dona Croll, Shaun Parkes and Don Warrington. Previews from 20 April, booking to 20 August.
Box office: 0870 890 1104

A Night at the DogsMatt Charman's A Night at the Dogs won the 2004 Verity Bargate Award for best new play by a first-time playwright and now arrives at Soho Theatre dripping comedy and menace in a tale of thwarted ambition and misplaced hopes. Neil Stuke and Joe Armstrong are particularly effective as Del Boy and Rodney-style brothers involved in a dog-racing syndicate with some of their Walthamstow car repair shop colleagues. Workplace banter takes a back seat when their big night out at the track goes awry, forcing loyalties to be tested and masculinity to be put firmly in the dock. Runs to 14 May.
Box office: 0870 429 6883
Web: Soho Theatre

London has certainly seen its share of spectacularly misfiring musicals over the years, so it's ironic that the capital's favourite smash-hit musical, The Producers, should be an ode to the producing of flop shows. The real treat and surprise of this production is Britain's own Lee Evans, who makes a sweetly vulnerable, hilariously funny foil to the manic excesses of Broadway actor Brad Oscar. There isn't a false note in the casting anywhere in a musical that pokes fun at Nazis, old ladies, gay men and Swedes with equal and reckless comic abandon. Booking to October 2005.
Read a selection of your comments here
Box office: 0870 890 1109

Acorn Antiques"The price is high but the value much higher," reckons one of our Online readers of Acorn Antiques, the new Victoria Wood musical at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, which asks audiences to cough up the highest prices ever for a West End show (£65 for the best weekend tickets, more expensive than Broadway). In its defence it reunites Celia Imrie and Duncan Preston from the original TV sketch show, and features a side-splitting turn by the inimitable Julie Walters as the perpetually stooped and crumpled Mrs Overall, tea tray in hand and macaroons at the ready. Booking to 23 April.
Read a review and selection of comments here
Box office: 020 7930 8800

Web: Theatre Royal Haymarket
(The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites)

The SupremesIn 1965 the Motown record label spearheaded its first foray into the UK market with a package tour featuring some of its biggest stars. To mark the event 40 years on, Redferns Music Picture Gallery in Bramley Road W10 presents Hitsville UK: Motown In Britain, a collection of rare photographs of luminaries such as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes (pictured) and Stevie Wonder. Remember them this way, before the advent of bad drugs, untimely death and middle age. Runs to 4 June. Info: 020 7792 9914
Go to our video report/interview

The Flagellation by Caravaggio (1607, detail)The Flagellation (1607, detail pictured right) is one of fifteen paintings at the National Gallery charting Caravaggio's Final Years. The exhibition focuses on the last, exiled years of the fugitive Italian painter's life - following his flight from Rome after killing a man in a duel - and explores the mature and compelling style he developed immediately before his death in 1610. Runs to 22 May.
Web: National Gallery

Monet's Charing Cross Bridge in overcast light Tate Britain's Turner Whistler Monet traces the dialogue between three of the great 19th century European artists and the links between their art. This blockbuster of a show features 100 paintings, watercolours, prints and pastels, many of them concentrating on river views and London waterscapes such as Monet's Charing Cross Bridge in overcast light (pictured). Runs to 15 May.
Tate Britain
/ See our special report here

Landscape 704, 2003, by John Virtue (detail)National Gallery Associate Artist John Virtue's take on the London cityscape is remarkable: soot-blackened buildings emerge in silhouette against a dark, elemental skyline in a manner that recalls Turner and other painters of the great European landscape tradition. His London Paintings take in views of St Paul's Cathedral, the city and Trafalgar Square from the roof of Somerset House and the National Gallery itself. Unmissable. Runs to 5 June with a supporting exhibition of drawings and sketches, also to 5 June, at the Courtauld Institute, Somerset House WC2.
Web: National Gallery

Bullet BoyGun culture goes under the microscope in Bullet Boy, Saul Dibb's powerful and moving directorial debut. Ashley Walters (aka So Solid Crew's Asher D) and newcomer Luke Fraser deliver compelling performances in this low-budget British drama, about a freshly-released jailbird who struggles to go straight on the mean streets of Hackney. On paper the clichés stack up; on celluloid the movie delivers an all-too-believable message about the impact of firearms on a family.
Watch a video report on Bullet Boy here

A huge hit in its native France, period drama The Chorus sticks to a familiar songsheet: the one where a kindly teacher slowly but very surely wins over his urchin pupils. Centred on the soaring sound of a boys' choir, this Oscar nominee may be a school of schlock, but if you're willing to submit, it'll charm your ears and toast your cockles.

5X2Two people, five moments from a marriage told in reverse: there's a neat simplicity to 5x2, François Ozon's chamber piece about modern relationships. Beginning with Gilles (Stéphane Freiss) and Marion (Valéria Bruni-Tedeschi, pictured) as they sign their divorce papers then 'backtracking' back to key moments in their life together, this is a slyly ironic take on affairs of the heart. Like Irreversible - but without the jolts - it's proof that time does indeed destroy all things.

Technology makes new leaps in Chris Wedge's animated coming-of-age yarn Robots. From the people who brought you Ice Age comes a fully realised and seductive futuristic world like the best Meccano Set ever imaginable. Ewan McGregor lends his voice to humble bot Rodney Copperbottom who negotiates the big smoke of Robot City to find his fortune, with the help of Robin Williams, Jim Broadbent and Halle Berry.
Owen WilsonOnly The Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968) equals The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou for brilliant, psychedelic surrealism. Bill Murray lends a sobering edge to Wes Anderson's vividly imagined tale of a washed-up oceanographer hunting a mythical shark while struggling to make a human connection with his long-lost son Ned, played by Owen Wilson (pictured). It will have you thoroughly immersed.
Read a review and selection of comments here
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