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The Courtyard Theatre
Jon Gurinsky

So you've never been to... The Courtyard Theatre

Everything you need to know about this basement hideaway near Old Street

By Owen Myers
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In a nutshell...
A tucked-away shoebox of a venue in a flexible theatre complex, with an attached cosy and candlelit bar that’s been responsible for many a mid-week hangover.

Where is it?
Five minutes up from Old Street tube station – its grown-up atmosphere offers a welcome refuge from the local pubs, which tend to fill up with an after-work crowd.

What’s the vibe?
Don’t expect a moshpit. The black-walled, 235-capacity studio space attracts clued-up punters who might have moved on from watching bands in local boozers, but still have their ear to the ground. The venue’s ‘Iambic Bar’ is open to all – its intimate feel (and dark corners) make it an inspired date spot.

What makes it a great venue?
It’s partly the thrill of feeling like you’ve discovered a secret. The Courtyard is located in the basement of the Grade II-listed former Passmore Edwards Free Library, and when you’re down in the sound-proofed venue it feels like a real escape from east London’s bustle. The welcoming staff clearly know they’re on to something special, and the curation is thoughtful and on point. FKA twigs chose this spot for one of her first London shows, and Tori Amos debuted her new album here last year.

What’s the booze situation?
A not-too-painful fiver for a pint, and a spirit with a mixer for £4.50.

Finally: what happens to the coats left in the cloakroom?
Every August, the staff have a clear-out and give the proceeds to local charity shops. But one bizarre find survived the cull: a baby monitor. There’s a theory among staff that the crew at one gig were using it as a makeshift walkie-talkie.

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