East London's new writing stronghold is a bit erratic but much appreciated
Situated slap bang in the middle of east London's vibrant Turkish community in Dalston, the Arcola Theatre was here before the hipsters and – despite one enforced venue change, to its present former paint factory site – remains a bastion of interesting work in theatre-light east London.
The quality of the programme tends to wax and wane, and you suspect gifted founder artistic director Mehmet Ergen could make a bigger deal out of it if he didn't have various other projects on the boil. Still, the erratic programme is enjoyably unpredictable and occasionally brilliant, hard to pin down in any meaningful may, but revolving around fresh voices and politicised new work. It biggest constant is Grimeborn, an irreverent and influential festival of new opera writing that takes place in the summer.
Tickets are cheap as chips and comparable to the fringe, the ramshackle bar has some lovely old sofas to sink into before or after a show, and there is an admiral commitment to becoming the greenest theatre in the UK, with a goal of becoming completely carbon neutral.