Time Out says
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This mid-Victorian gem is one of the West End's more intimate spaces
The Criterion Theatre is an 1874 theatre with the unique distinction of being mostly underground. Even dress circle seats are below street level, a fact which so concerned Victorian safety inspectors that they forced the management to close the theatre and rework the ventilation arrangements a decade after its opening.
Situated on the prime entertainment real estate of Piccadilly Circus, the Criterion was built on the site of seventeenth-century inn The White Bear. It originally regaled crowds with light and fluffy musical spectacles like 'Topsyturveydom', its opening show. In 1936, it hosted a theatre landmark when 'French Without Tears' launched playwright Terence Rattigan's career. During WWII, it put its underground location to good use as a (theoretically) bomb proof home for the BBC. In post-war years, it housed cutting edge theatre like 'Waiting For Godot', but its fortunes foundered by the '70s, when it was up for demolition. Luckily, Equity intervened, with a campaign that eventually resulted in the theatre being saved.
After long-running hit melodrama 'The 39 Steps', which closed in 2015, Criterion Theatre is currently home to West End comedy mongers Mischief Theatre's 'The Comedy About A Bank Robbery'.
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