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The Witches

Olivier Theatre, the National Theatre

Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX 020 3989 5455

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  • Synopsis
  • Theatremonkey show opinion
  • Reader reviews
  • Performance schedule
  • Ticket prices


Ends 6th January 2024.
Audio described performance: 9th December 2023 at 1.30pm (touch tour 12 noon)
Captioned performance: 14th December 2023 at 7pm
Signed performance: 28th December 2023 at 7pm
Sensory adapted performance: 21st December 2023 at 7pm

Luke is 10 years old. Gran has a dodgy heart. They are the only thing standing between every child in England and the witches who want to squallop the lot of them.

Roald Dahl's tale is adapted into a musical by Lucy Kirkwood and Dave Molloy. Lyndsey Turner directs.


(seen at the afternoon preview performance on 18th November 2023)

For the monkey, Roald Dahl books divide into the “classics” written before it arrived, the 1970s stuff which was new when it was learning to read, and “everything else” – basically after “Fantastic Mr Fox” - that it never read at all.

“The Witches” falls into the last category, and so it had no expectations or foreknowledge of the show at all before seeing it. It still cannot say whether Lucky Kirkwood and Dave Malloy deviated far from the story (besides some very fun updates – kids are at home being “Tik Tocked,” a very Dahl idea) but it does know they deliver a pretty good tale.

The staging is spectacular. Vast cast and the usual full usage of the Olivier space. Lizzie Clachan gives us a magnificent Magnificent Hotel, and even better costumes – you will be lusting for a giant liquorice allsort, be stunned by the mice and generally blown away by the riot of ingenious colour.

Choreographer Stephen Mear also pulls out the stops with a stream of big routines and smaller moments, augmented by Chris Fisher and Will Houstoun’s magical effects. The accident which befalls our young hero early is particularly well staged, old theatrical tropes fresh and moving.

It is also deliciously subversive in the best panto tradition, some pretty strong and witty adult humour mixed in so that the tinies don’t get a whiff but the mums and dads stay alert to catch the next one.

All this is delivered by a strong cast. Our young hero - sadly unidentified as there is no daily young cast list posted and the National's press office did not reply to inquiries - has energy to burn and with his Gran (Sally Ann Triplett on amazingly good form) is a powerful combination.

Another unidentified youngster as Bruno steals the show in his solo dance number “Bruno Sweet Bruno”, a greasy little sugar addict with the silver tongued touch. 

Grand High Witch Katherine Kingsley goes “the full Lupone” at one point, delivers “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” as a comedy standard to come and is almost upstaged by her own assistant.

As Hotel manager Mr Stringer, Daniel Rigby is gifted two strong songs – “Magnificent”, and “Out! Out! Out!;” his staff making the most of both.

There are problems. Lyndsey Turner and the creative team never quite get to grips with the pace. The opening number is too long, there are further dips as the Witches convene for conference at the end of act one and also a drop in act two as the plot flounders for resolution before trucking through.

The finale is not just a downbeat ending but lacks a truly punchy number to end on, which is also a disappointment which does need fixing if possible.

Still, compared with some previous holiday season offerings, the National Theatre has come up trumps. A few tweaks perhaps between the close of this run and deciding to schedule a 2024/25 run would be the remark the monkey would make, which it thinks says it all.

The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.

Monday to Saturday at 7pm
Wednesday and Saturday at 1.30pm and 7pm

Runs 2 hours 45 minutes approximately.

During the "Holiday Season" from 18th December 2023 until 7th January 2024, the above schedules will vary.
Charts showing scheduled performances during this period are available using the links below:

For Monday 18th December 2023 until Sunday 24th December 2023, click here.
For Monday 25th December 2023 until Sunday 31st December 2023, click here.
For Monday 1st January until Sunday 7th January 2024, click here


Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.


Olivier theatre prices seating plan
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