Find your new favourite indie theatre this summer cover photo

Find your new favourite indie theatre this summer

Find your new favourite indie theatre this summer cover photo
Stage Savvy avatar
Stage Savvy
9 Jun 2021 · Follow on Stagedoor

Did you know that London has a frankly astonishing 263 theatres?

You wouldn't if you read most mainstream theatre coverage: the stars, profits and column inches tend to be tightly concentrated in Covent Garden's theatreland. But while the pandemic has hit the capital's lesser known spaces especially hard, a plucky bunch are defying the odds to reopen with social distancing in place this month, and we reckon it's time to get to know them.

Wilton's Music Hall

Hidden on a narrow East London alley behind one of London's most photographed doors is this photogenic, artfully-crumbling gem of a theatre. Plus, it's been freshly renovated with an eye for audience comfort: think plushy new seats and a crystal-clear acoustic.

Superpower: History and/or ghosts - dating back to 1859, this space is full of stories.

What to see: Meet an antiquated star at Scaramouche Jones, a one-man-show that takes you on a whirlwind tour of 20th century history.

Brockley Jack

This much-loved stalwart has been serving up fringe theatre alongside pints to generations of South Londoners: go for classic plays and smart new writing in a down-to-earth setting.

Superpower: Practicality as well as charm - step-free access, nearby parking spots, air-conditioning, and plenty of cosy nooks for a pint afterwards.

What to see: Stewart Pringle's Trestle is an understated delight, a story of unexpected friendship in a rural village hall.

Camden People's Theatre

If you want to something quirky, brain-scrambling or fiercely political, the CPT is the place to go. It's a haven for new voices in theatre and live art. And it's also used lockdown to undergo a little refurbishment so you can have your ideas of what theatre can be challenged in the most comfortable of conditions.

Superpower: Interactivity - going to a show at CPT feels like joining a party.

What to see: Brilliant theatre anarchists IN BED WITH MY BROTHER are back with Retrained, a show inspired by the government's advice that artists should forge new careers in cyber.

Golden Goose Theatre

You'd have to be honking mad to open a new fringe theatre during a global pandemic... or would you? This new Camberwell pub-based venue seems to be doing pretty well for itself, luring in established and emerging artists alike into its capacious 80-seater space.

Superpower: Size matters - it's bigger-than-average, with a playing area that makes social distancing a breeze.

What to see: Meet a suave 1930s gay icon at Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope, a solo show that's packed with witty one-liners.

Pleasance Theatre

With a trip to the Edinburgh fringe almost certainly off the menu this summer, why not soak up some fringe vibes at Pleasance's North London outpost - which programmes a mixed line-up of comedy and rambunctious theatre.

Superpower: al fresco post-show pints - downstairs watering hole The Depot welcomes post-show crowds for a bevvy in a jungly beer garden that's full of tropical palms.

What to see: Lyn Gardner recommends Godot is a Woman , a ribald feminist comedy about dead male playwrights.

Follow these venues on Stagedoor and we'll keep you up to date with all their latest plans and shows. And they're just a tiny sample of all the fascinating, storied theatres that are scattered across London: and as we stay primed for news from the government on Monday on whether theatres can reopen at full capacity, we're hoping for a rule change that means more of these tiny, precious spaces can get back in action.

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