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Arcola Theatre

Theatre, Private theatres Kingsland
5 out of 5 stars
(16user reviews)
Arcola Theatre, 2016
© Lidia Crisafulli

East London's new writing stronghold is a bit erratic but much appreciated

Situated slap bang in the middle of east London's vibrant Turkish community in Dalston, the Arcola Theatre was here before the hipsters and – despite one enforced venue change, to its present former paint factory site – remains a bastion of interesting work in theatre-light east London.

The quality of the programme tends to wax and wane, and you suspect gifted founder artistic director Mehmet Ergen could make a bigger deal out of it if he didn't have various other projects on the boil. Still, the erratic programme is enjoyably unpredictable and occasionally brilliant. It's hard to pin down in any meaningful way, but you're likely to find the odd Ibsen or other 'serious drama' revival, new plays from fresh voices, and plenty of work with a political, international outlook. Its biggest constant is Grimeborn, an irreverent and influential festival of new opera writing that takes place in the summer. And there's also a real focus on community work, with occasional stagings of Turkish language plays sitting alongside dramas by the Arcola's Queer Collective. 

Tickets are cheap as chips and comparable to the fringe. The ramshackle bar is a cosy place to sink a pint before or after the show; it serves tea and coffee during the day, and generally fills up with artsy types on a Friday or Saturday night. The Arcola also has an admirable commitment to becoming the greenest theatre in the UK, with a goal of becoming completely carbon neutral that's demonstrated in its rather advanced-looking toilets. 


Venue name: Arcola Theatre
Address: 24 Ashwin St
E8 3DL
Transport: Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction Overground
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Pick a date

  • Drama Until Saturday July 13 2019
  • Drama Saturday June 22 2019 - Saturday July 13 2019

Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:14
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Great venue! You are always up close to the stage which adds to the atmosphere and everything I've seen here has been good. The bar is also nice to hang out in. If you are a regular the Arcola passport gets you some good discount. Overall a highly recommended venue.


This is where I go when I want something exciting, creative, well thought, raw and different on stage in London. The intimate space of both theatre allow for more audience involvement and used to the full effect by most of the productions.

Arcola also has a very strong community feeling and fostering. For the whole month of January 2017, the  award winning Creative Management Department is staging different productions by different companies to develop young (youth) talents, the elder community, unheard voices and using theatre to champion and express new voices from those who are affected by issues like sexual abuse, men's mental health, LBGT community, racism.

I saw Under Cover on week 1 which give a very real, raw and restrained portrayal of men's mental health. There were different aspects of the issues what were conveyed succinctly and without any sensationalisation. It takes you to a journey of what it's like to have a safe place that is warm and safe like your bed which later can become the trap that doesn't allow you to leave just because the world outside can be so cruel. The moment of genius was the cast danced to Beyonce and then fell into a deep darkness and the safe coccoon that was the bed again.

The staff in Arcola are knowledgeable, smart, creative and warm.  And the bar is great for pre drinks and post theatre mingling.

And Friday night is a great place for dancing!


The Arcola is my go to place for excitingly staged new writing in London. From start to finish the visiting experience is unique and friendly, with a fantastically friendly staff and a brilliant season year after year.

Pop in on the day and book your tickets at the box office- and make sure to buy the script of the show you will see as this usually acts as the program for the performance! It's well worth it- you never know which show will be a roaring success!

Both studios lend themselves to innovative and intelligent design, which adds to the viewing experience no end.

The intimacy of the bar allows for some seriously high quality mingling after the show where you will probably meet the cast and creatives, while enjoying their delightful wine and amazing burgers (make sure you have one- they are delicious!)

This place is innovative, socially conscious, sustainable and with the best atmosphere! Brilliant shows, brilliant team, and a brilliant bar to dissect in afterwards.

Really appreciate having a local theatre with affordably priced tickets and an good quality eclectic choice of productions.

Lots of talent. Saw Swansong the other week and was impressed with brilliant acting and production. Both comedic timing, music and lighting were spot on. Very impressive. Will be going back.

Consistently interesting and entertaining shows programmed by a great team of people. Proud to have this as my local theatre!

More than an innovative and unique theatre space but also a mirror for the changing face of Hackney and London. One of the most diverse and innovative theatre spaces I've ever experienced!

This theatre is producing the best and most exciting work in London. Make the (20 min) trek, it's so worth it.

Excellent theatre that produces and hosts exciting and important plays in an interesting green venue. Good bar too. The sort of thing that's great about Dalston. 


A good off West End theatre with a great bar and affordable tickets.  Home of Grimeborn among other interesting shows.

I find this website extremely helpful. I am moving to London in April and have now decided to settle in Dalston, thanks to your help!

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