Former home to Kevin Spacey and the National Theatre, the Old Vic offers big, serious plays, big, serious stars and a few musicals and surprises.
One of London's most storied theatres, the Old Vic – which opened its doors in 1818 – was the first home of the National Theatre, under Laurence Olivier. More recently it was run by Hollywood star Kevin Spacey whose 11-year-stint in charge turned around the previously ailing building's fortunes. The current artistic director of the Old Vic is the heavyweight commercial director Matthew Warchus.
More eclectic and musical theatre-orientated in his programming than Spacey, Warchus nonetheless continues to make big name revivals of classic plays the bread and butter of his programming: more or less a given in the Old Vic's enormous space.
Good stalls tickets top out at West End prices, but the theatre is run with a subsidised 'ethos' and the cheap seats are very affordable, with good concessionary discounts usually available (these tend to vary from show to show depending on the expected audience).
Penny is the theatre's newly refurbished cafe, meeting and drinking space. Open all day and until 2am Thursday to Saturday, the place aims to be attractive to non-theatre goers as well as hardened thesps. You can buy local food and drink in the form of light bites and brunches as well as bar snacks, seasonal food and biodynamic wines. It should maintain its long-held status as a late night convivial haunt as even during the week it's open until 1am.