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London’s favourite neighbourhood theatres, as chosen by Time Out readers

By Alice Saville

Kristel Tracey loves Tara Theatre

Where is it? ‘In Earlsfield, deep in south-west London, you’ll find this tiny gem of a theatre, celebrating all things multicultural.’

Why cross town? ‘From its cute bar down to the brightly painted toilet stalls, it’s fabulous from head to toe. Plus, the cremoloso gelato served at the venue is a buff ting.’

What’s the USP? ‘Tara Arts puts minority communities’ voices centrestage, and shares the stories we all need to hear.’


Alex Hayden. Photo by Ioanna Laskari

Alex Hayden loves The Vaults

Where is it? ‘Near Waterloo. Imagine the setting of a BBC primetime crime drama when they find the first body and you’re probably not far off.’

Why cross town? ‘If you’re sick of the West End, The Vaults are known for putting on an array of unique, weird and wonderful events. Plus, you’ll gain an enviable Insta feed full of graffiti shots.’

What’s the snack situation? ‘Strong. Head to their immersive show “Beauty and the Feast” for some fine art feasting.’


Vera Sugar. Photo by Tsveta Todorova

Vera Sugar loves Bridewell Theatre

Where is it? ‘Practically opposite Blackfriars station, tucked away in an alley that makes you feel like you’re on the set of Mary Poppins (no dancing chimney sweeps spotted so far, though).’

What’s the snack situation? ‘All the usual stuff, but insider tip: the theatre’s tiny, so I’d avoid anything too crunchy.’

What’s the USP? ‘The Lunchbox Theatre runs from 1pm to 1.45pm, showcasing awesome pieces of theatre in your lunch break. If you work nearby, you’d be mad not to check this out!’


Valisa Iskandar. Photo by Izzy Kawecka

Valisa Iskander loves the Arcola Theatre

Why cross town to Dalston? ‘For bold theatre featuring quirky, brave voices and interesting ideas. It’s very community and cause-centric, too.’

Who goes there? ‘People who love theatre and hanker for something original. On Friday nights, after 10pm, there’s a live band playing dance music and lots of dancers come here to jive, salsa and waltz.’

What’s the snack situation like? ‘Fantastic – the Arcola Bar serves mostly vegetarian meals and wonderful cocktails.’

Louise Raynham. Photo by Kimberley Chan

Louise Raynham loves the Hope Theatre

Where is it? ‘The heart of Islington, between the station and the glamorous restaurants. Win-win.’

What are the drinks like? ‘It’s over a pub, so the sky’s your limit (and drinks are allowed in
the studio). Or you can grab a pre-show chicken burger with rosemary fries.’

What’s the USP? ‘Helping smaller productions get their feet on the theatrical ladder, and the intimacy of the space. Last time I went I got clonked on the head by an actress rushing off stage. It doesn’t get more intimate than that!’


Manmeet Singh. Photo by Charlotte Haunton

Manmeet Singh loves Southwark Playhouse

Where is it? ‘On the south (fun) side of the river, a short walk from Elephant & Castle.’

Who goes there? ‘Cool cats who want to discover and support fresh young talent. It’s common to run into the stars of the show, too.’

What’s the USP? ‘Due to the impressive size and the scale of its productions, the theatre provides a high-quality, low-cost option compared to the shows on the West End. It’s good to watch shows that not many people have heard of. It’s my special little treat for myself.’

Jacksons Lane theatre and arts space

Lucrezia Alfonsi loves Jacksons Lane

Where is it? ‘Just a few minutes from Highgate station. Look for a big Methodist church – yes, this little gem is hidden in a former place of worship, with beautiful architecture both inside and out.

Why cross town? ‘For engaging contemporary performances. Jacksons Lane is one of the few London theatres with a program mostly focused on circus.’

What are the drinks like? ‘You can grab a pint at the theatre’s bar before the show starts, there are great beers on tap.’

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