The Unfriend

The Unfriend tickets
Amanda Abbington, Reece Shearsmith and Frances Barber star in Steven Moffat’s (Doctor Who; Sherlock) hilarious satire about staying polite - even if it kills you! Telling the story of a couple who reluctantly befriend a Trump-loving American with a worrying past while on holiday, The Unfriend premiered at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2022 to 5 star reviews and audience acclaim. It now transfers to the West End’s Criterion Theatre for a limited season in 2023.
Booking from 15 January 2023 until 16 April 2023
Run time is 1 hour 55 minutes (including an interval)

Box Office Contacts

Box Office:+44 (0) 333 3202 895
Access Booking:+44 (0) 20 7839 8811
Group Booking:0844 815 6141
Stage Door:020 7839 8811


London’s Criterion Theatre has had a very varied history, “going dark” several times, whilst changing performance genres. Originally built in 1973, the venue was intended as a concert hall, adjoined to a restaurant. Eventually, the decision was made to convert the building into a theatre, with initial productions including An American Lady and Topsyturbeydom (1874), neither of which were huge successes. Soon, the theatre began to host Edwardian musical comedies, a hugely popular genre in the West End at the time.

Under the management of prolific theatre manager Charles Wyndham, who took charge of the theatre between 1875 and 1899, the Criterion began to establish itself as one of London’s more successful venues, with productions such as The Great Divorce Case (1876), Foggerty’s Fairy (1881) and Haste to the Wedding (1892).

The Criterion Theatre continued to house productions between the World Wars, including Musical Chairs, starring John Gielgud, and Terence Rattigan’s French Without Tears (1936), which ran for an impressive 1,039 performances. During World War II, the venue closed down and became a safe studio for the BBC, who broadcasted news and light entertainment.

In the 1970’s, the theatre was threatened with redevelopment, but was met with public protest. Post-War productions included Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1955) and Anouil’s comedy The Waltz of the Toreadors (1956).

Property tycoon Robert Bourne purchased the theatre in the 1980’s, housing productions such as Tom Foolery (1980-1981), Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!  (1981-1982) and Run for Your Wife (1983-1989).

From 1996 to 2005, the Reduced Shakespeare Company played The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) to rave reviews and acclaim, before being replaced with Jon Buchan’s popular stage adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, which ran at the theatre for 9 years.

Follow the closure of The 39 Steps, Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined (2015-2016) transferred to the Criterion. In 2016, Mischief Theatre’s brand-new comedy The Comedy About a Bank Robbery (2016) transferred and continues to this day. Occasional small productions continue to play alternate performances at the venue, including Mr Popper’s Penguins (2016).

The Criterion Theatre reopened in May 2021, following a year-long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The actor-musician production of Amelie - the Musical opened in the summer with social distancing, before playing to full capacity audiences until September.

In October 2021, Isobel McArthur’s irreverent take on Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) opened at the theatre for an open-ended run that was sadly cut short in February 2022. Drag comedy Death Drop returns to the West End in March for a limited run, starring RuPaul's Drag Race stars Jujubee and Kitty Scott-Claus.

The hugely popular supernatural thriller 2:22 - A Ghost Story transferred to the Criterion for a 4-month run, following sold-out performances at the Noel Coward Theatre and Gielgud Theatre in 2021. In 2023, Steven Moffat's acclaimed comedy The Unfriend transfers from Chichester Festival Theatre, starring Amanda Abbington and Reece Shearsmith.

Past Shows

Death Drop
Death Drop
(closed 24 Apr 2022)
Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)
Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)
(closed 6 Feb 2022)
The Comedy about a Bank Robbery
The Comedy about a Bank Robbery
(closed 3 May 2020)

Mr Popper's Penguins
Mr Popper's Penguins
(closed 31 Dec 2016)
Close To You
Close To You
(closed 14 Feb 2016)
The 39 Steps
The 39 Steps
(closed 5 Sep 2015)