The West End’s first new theatre in 50 years opens this autumn (and it has a really awful name)

It’s a 600-seat super-modern beauty with a bar and restaurant attached

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
Theatre & Dance Editor, UK

The exact semantics of what constitutes a West End theatre are as boring as they are confusing. But while London has had new West End-sized theatres in recent times (notably the Bridge), and just last year Trafalgar Studios was extensively revamped into the very different Trafalgar Theatre, there hasn't actually been a fully new large-scale theatre built from scratch in the West End since Time Out own’s looming concrete neighbour the Gillian Lynne Theatre opened its doors in 1973.

We’ve known for a while that Nimax – one of the major West End theatre owners – was building a new venue as part of the redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road, sitting directly above the Elizabeth Line and adjacent to the former site of the legendary Astoria music venue. 

Well, now Nimax boss Nica Burns has offered a first look and shared its name.

The bad news first: its name is – in total seriousness – @sohoplace, which sounds like a bottom-tier internet café from 2003 and does strongly feel like the worst name for any theatre in London, possibly the UK, possibly the world. Hysterically, it doesn’t even own the Twitter handle @sohoplace, which seems to be the possession of someone who tweeted just once, back in 2017. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram it’s in fact @atsohoplace. Still, most West End theatres eventually end up getting renamed after somebody who died, so fingers crossed for that, eh?

On the plus side, @sohoplace (aaaargh!) is a hypermodern 602-seat theatre that will, uniquely for the West End, be configured in the round (that is to say the stage is surrounded on all sides by the audience), making it far more intimate than most of its neighbours. Conversely, most of its neighbours were built at a time when people thought nothing of cramming in Victorian punters like battery chickens, which is why most West End theatres feature cramped seating, dreadful sightlines in the cheap seats and toilets that lead directly into the bowels of hell. @sohoplace (*weeps*) will feature none of that nonsense, and for all the horror of its name, it’ll surely compensate for that with clear sightlines, comfy seating and latrines that don’t pose a threat to the space-time continuum. It’ll also feature a bar and terrace, and sit on top of a ground-floor public restaurant and bar that will open in September. 

@sohoplace (bangs head into wall) itself will open shortly thereafter at some point in the autumn, with the first production due to be announced soon.

@sohoplace is at 2 Soho Place, WC1.

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