WAR HORSE at the Bristol Hippodrome

★★★★★ It is the horses, Joey and Topthorn, who are the true stars of the show. That 50 kilos of cane, leather and aluminium can become a living, breathing horse is a wonderful testament to the power of the human imagination and the magic of theatre. Last night there were many in the audience who were moved to tears. War Horse is simply wonderful.

DEATHTRAP at Cheltenham Everyman

★★★☆☆ Writer Ira Levine was of course known for writing his suspenseful stage stories but the sinister aspects here are played for camp rather than for horror. Each act and violent moment on stage is accompanied by a thunderous boom – which does a good job of making the audience jump from their seats but this is inevitably accompanied by cathartic laughter.

STOLEN at the North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford

★★★★☆ The Devil’s Violin is a small company blending words and music to create an atmospheric evening where one gets lost in the rhythm of voice and strings. Daniel Morden, the storyteller is a tall, imposing figure in black who holds the audience with his mesmeric voice and countenance.

CRAZY FOR YOU at Bristol Hippodrome

★★★★☆ The show is a celebration of the Gershwins and is based on their 30s show, Girl Crazy with the addition of songs from elsewhere in their output. This revival is above all a company show. The onstage cast act, sing, dance and play most of the instruments of the band -sometimes all at once . . .

THE BEST MAN at Bath Theatre Royal

★★★★☆ If ever a political play had been crying out for revival this was it. It only needs a revival of Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders, which takes a satirical look at casual slaughter in America and the survey will be complete. As Russell says, perhaps adapting Wordsworth, ‘The past is always with us’.

HAIRSPRAY at the Birmingham Hippodrome

★★★★☆ Spending an evening listening to sensational vocal performances, and embracing the uplifting and positive message of Hairspray is certainly beneficial. The production is not without fault, but it is still a musical worth seeing, especially when performed by such a talented cast brimming with energy.