The modern off-West End theatre has a history of robust productions with wide-ranging appeal.
With its versatile main auditorium, the modern building of Hampstead Theatre is home to a host of meaty offerings since it was first founded in 1959, from new work by new playwrights and new work from old ones too. The likes of Debbie Tucker Green, Dennis Kelly and Mike Leigh have all had shows on in the early days of their careers, and the theatre has a history of its robust productions transferring to the West End.
Under Ed Hall's artistic direction the theatre downstairs is a platform for brand new work from very new writers and companies - that's not reviewed by critics - while the main house is a continued draw for respectable stars such as Roger Allam and Simon Russell Beale.
Grab a ticket for around £10 (concessions) to £35 for main house shows, while tickets in Hampstead's downstairs theatre are usually at the £12 mark. The bar area sells a good selection of hot meals and light bites, in a slightly cramped, but usually pretty buzzy atmosphere.
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I've seen some wonderful productions here at great prices. It draws some of the biggest theatrical names, too and the prices are at least half that in the West End proper. (Many of the productions are so good that they transfer to the West End anyway - with higher ticket prices.) There's a feeling of space here - you can sit outside the back on the patio overlooking the landscaped area with your choice of drink or food from the bar - or browse the interesting market stalls at the front of the theatre. There is a feeling of light and space you don't get in central London. The loos are good too! and the seats well upholstered and extremely comfortable. A great place to enjoy wonderful entertainment.