I concede that it may be because one expects so much more having paid sixty plus quid for a ticket, but my strong preference in London is for the small theatres, not the West End biggies.
These are all theatres we go to whenever we visit London with tickets for £25 or less. Generally it is one price fits all, so get there and line up and you are talking front row seats. Of course, some of these venues are so small, whether it is the front or back row is neither here nor there.
Theatre503 is above the Latchmere Pub on the corner of Latchmere Road and Battersea Park Road. It’s a bit of a hike however you set about it from Central London, but worth every trotting step you take as you find, even though you set out with plenty of time, you’ve run out of it. See a review here. All the theatre we’ve seen here has been wonderful.
Still in that area, there is the Battersea Arts Centre. I know it isn’t Small, small, but it makes up for it by being hard to get to. And the stage we went to for The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland which I review here, was not huge. Not to mention, the prices are small.
The King’s Head theatre in Islington has never let us down. It puts on fabulously high quality theatre for the price of a few drinks.
The Rose Theatre is just near The Globe, but couldn’t be more different. It’s an archeological dig, it has no toilets (you go to the Globe if you must), the atmosphere is chilling – and so is the weather, there is no heating. You can see a review here. it must be one of the most special places in the world to see theatre. And it’s cheap as chips.
The Park Theatre in Finsbury Park has an excellent diverse array of productions on its program. Not only that, with all the money you save by not going to the West End, you can have pre-theatre dinner at Season Kitchen a terrific little restaurant with a sophisticated but homey menu and a pop-without-the-rip attitude.
The Finborough Theatre,not so far from Earl’s Court Station, is another over the pub affair, and I’m a bit sad I only discovered it a couple of trips to London ago. This is a fantastic theatre, it does really interesting things, brilliant actors, I can’t say enough good things about it. I reviewed Horniman’s Choice here.
Also in the Kensington area is The Drayton Arms Theatre – over a pub, as is probably obvious from the name. The shows here are more irregular, there isn’t a particular group laying claim to the premises. We saw Pistachio Choice do Pericles there a couple of years ago and were impressed by how good it was.
Back in town, The Comedy Museum is the oddest little theatre I’ve been in, and that includes the archeological dig mentioned earlier. I’ve only seen one show here and it was theatre, but I suspect it is mostly more standup/oneman shows. Cheap and worth a visit.
Can’t leave this list without mentioning The Young Vic. Some of its shows go as high as £35 a ticket, but I’ve seen stunning theatre here for £25 or less. It’s a proper large theatre with lots of productions running at a time, but it feels good, not unlike theatre over pubs. It’s the most vibrant theatre complex I’ve been in. I like feeling excited as I walk into a theatre and The Young Vic gives me that. I will never forget seeing Edward Petherbridge doing My Perfect Mind there a few years ago. ‘Wonderful’ in bold font with spangly stars around it. I’m not surprised to see it was taken to the US last year. The tickets were so cheap, maybe £15?
There are some theatres that I will mention in another post that are somewhere between these brilliant cheapies and the expensive West End.