Royal Court Theatre

Theatre , West End Belgravia
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(7 user reviews)
23 Love It
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Royal Court Theatre
© Helen Maybanks

London's edgy new writing powerhouse

London's premiere new writing theatre, the Royal Court made its name in the 1950s when it was synonymous with kitchen sink dramas and the Angry Young Men, and has scarcely looked back (in anger) since.

The commercially successful reign of Dominic Cooke was famously marked by his stated mission to acknowledge the nature of the Sloane Square theatre's audience and 'explore what it means to be middle class'. The quote probably came back to haunt him, coming to define a reign that was marked by lots of new writing from BAME playwrights, plus such towering West End transfer successes as 'Enron' and the peerless 'Jerusalem'.

Current Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone has taken the theatre down a much more experimental route that frequently thrills but has perhaps endeared her more to artists than audiences. The Almeida and Young Vic having probably overtaken it in terms of influence, though certainly there's a willingness to try something that might not work that seemed to have disappeared somewhat in the Cooke era.

There are two venues, the tiny Upstairs and large Downstairs, plus a welcoming bar kitchen that's a fabulous place to visit for a gander at the cream of London's playwrights and creatives, who inexorably drift through throughout the day.

Venue name: Royal Court Theatre
Contact:
Address: 50-51
Sloane Square
London
SW1W 8AS
Transport: Tube: Sloane Sq
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  • Drama Until Saturday October 22 2016
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  • Drama Until Saturday October 15 2016
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  • Drama Thursday October 20 2016 - Saturday October 29 2016
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  • Classical and opera Tuesday November 1 2016
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  • Drama Thursday November 10 2016 - Thursday December 22 2016
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  • Drama Thursday November 17 2016 - Saturday January 14 2017
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  • Drama Tuesday January 10 2017 - Saturday February 11 2017
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  • Drama Saturday January 14 2017 - Saturday February 11 2017
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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 3 star:0
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LiveReviews|7
1 person listening
Sarah G
Tastemaker

HOW? How have I not been to the Royal Court before? It's fantastic. Right next to Sloane Square station it's dead easy to get to. The bar has such a great vibe  and a nice selection of food, We shared a couple of charcuterie/Mezze type platters before the play. After it's lovely as lots of the actors turn up in the bar for a drink and it has a great matey feel. I was surprised to find they didn't do decaffeinated tea but that's a small quibble. It as also nice that there were plenty of toilets and so we didn't have to spend the whole interval queuing.


I am already plotting many many visits back - with my book group, with my children and with any other excuse I can think of and that's without even caring about the plays - but they were great too - see separate reviews!

Daniel L
Tastemaker

Great theatre located conveniently beside a tube station. Has a often rotating list of shows at very affordable prices. The acting is top notch and rivals that of the west-end productions. They have 2 theatres inside, one smaller more intimate one upstairs which I much prefer because it allows for closer proximity to the actors. In fact, there is no bad seat at all in the upstairs place and probably hence why the free seating. The downstairs theatre is large and is fixed seating. The larger theatre allows for larger set builds and larger companies.

O. Gordon
Tastemaker

The Royal Court is one of a handful of London's theatres outside of the West-End that would still be considered top rate by theatre-goers and critics. It is well laid out, well catered for (with the bar and restaurant below), it has good views from most of the seats, adequate leg room and, on a hot day, it is nicely cool compared to many other theatres of the same size (very prevalent at the time of writing this review). It has two performance areas; one stage and a studio above that houses the smaller writing talent or the more out there plays.


The stage is a well sized and has been baron and had entire flat complex sets built on it.  The building isn't that old so you can see it has been designed to deal with the occasional ridiculousness of set design in modern theatre. The programme of the theatre has also changed in recent years with the appointment of Vicky Featherstone as Artistic Director. While Ian Rickson and Dominic Cooke (previous AD's) took a more solid, pragmatic approach to new writing, Vicky's is definitely more up and down. The Royal Court has always been built on a strong vision and programme from the AD and it seems Vicky is intent on bringing it to the forefront of modern exploratory theatre. I think this is a good thing but there have been some noticeably average productions come through in recent years. If this is the trade off for new, different, exciting theatre to be made more mainstream, then that is fine with me. 


£10 tickets on the day for Monday performances and £15 rush tickets means the seats aren't solely there for the well to do in the Sloane Square area but beware, if the production is reviewed well or has a big name in it, chances are the run will be sold out. 



Bonnie W
Tastemaker

The Royal Court Theatre is a lovely theatre in Sloane Square that looks to be newly refurbished. They have comfy leather seats in the theatre with a good amount of leg room. A large space in the basement makes up the Royal Court Theatre Kitchen. This is a great place for a meal even if you're not seeing a play. There's a mix of couches, tables and bars to sit at and a casual atmosphere where you order at the main bar. The halloumi and mushroom burger that I ordered was delicious as were the chips, fresh from the fryer. There was also a great selection of wines, beers and ciders to choose from. The service was friendly and quick. The only draw back on our visit was that because we went for a pre theatre meal at 6:30, all the seats were taken and we ended up having to stand at a little bar to eat our food. It's best to go earlier or else after 7:30 if possible.

Chris
Tastemaker

The Royal Court is a brilliant theatre and it's worth a trip just to have a wander around the interesting building. The bar is also a great place to grab a drink or food, even if you're not seeing a play. The main theatre is one of the comfiest in London, with a mixture of mainly new plays and revivals of provocative writing from the last few decades. The upstairs studio often premieres new work from overseas. A great place!

Dave C

A good tip - become a member and you get access to £10 tickets on Mondays. The programme here is generally very strong and it's worth taking a risk and booking ahead. And the bar is a great place to hang out before and after productions.

Katharine F

I went to the Royal Court when I first arrived in London decades ago - it knocked me out then and still does now - a proper theatre offering properly stuff - takes some risks but always delivers a satisfying night - great for local drinks and eating pre and post and right next to the tube.