As a result of Boris Johnson’s ‘strong advice’ that members of the public avoid the nation’s theatres due to the coronavirus outbreak, most of London’s theatres have now closed with immediate effect, including all members of the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), that is to say the entire West End. Also gone: the National Theatre, the Royal Court, the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells and many, many more.
On Monday night, some smaller theatres continued to run their shows, and because the government’s advice is not that theatres must shut, they may technically continue to do so, although it seems very unlikely any will stay open in the face of the warning.
This is clearly going to be a very tough time for London’s theatres, and there is considerable anger within the industry that the government hasn’t legally forced venues to close (as has happened in many other countries), meaning that many believe it will be unlikely that some theatres can claim insurance for cancelled performances.
At the moment, nobody can tell how long the lockdown will last. Most theatres have postponed shows indefinitely, although several have notional first dates back – the National Theatre is one of the earliest, with the current plan being to return on April 13 – but these are, of course, all subject to change.
For now, Time Out hopes to do what it can to support the capital’s theatres.