Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right Criterion Theatre

Criterion Theatre

Theatre, West End Piccadilly Circus
5 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
Criterion Theatre
Matt Humphrey

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'. 


Venue name: Criterion Theatre
Address: 218-223 Piccadilly
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Pick a date

  • Comedy Until Sunday May 3 2020

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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

What a charming and cute theatre! Its not large or grande in any way but its clean and well proportioned if that makes sense. The bar is fully stocked and unlike some theatres the prices aren't eyebrow raising.

They're currently showing "A Comedy About A Bank Robbery" Here.... Personally I highly recommend it! One of the most entertaining and hilarious shows in theatres now!


The Criterion Theatre is conveniently located smack bang on Piccadilly Circus - useful for the journey home. Long the residence of brilliant farce The 39 Steps, it now houses A Comedy About A Bank Robbery (there's definitely a theme running through its theatrical inhabitants...) An opulent yet small entrance awaits, with routes to the main seating areas. The theatre is predominantly below ground, with long staircases down to the stalls. It's here that I've experienced several different views, and not all of them brilliant. The centre of the stalls obviously offers the clearest view, but you can still be caught out by the shallow rake. The far edges of the stalls can be very obstructed, particularly for any action that is far back on the stage. These seats do not always offer value for money, even discounted, so I'd recommend checking a review site such as TheatreMonkey before booking. In all though, it's an opulent little space and a slice of history in the heart of modern London.


Slap back in the centre of tourist London - to be honest  I have always avoided this space. But I was so wrong! It has become one of my favourite theatrical spaces in London. One of the most intermit spaces in the west end. Its right in the underground of Piccadily Circus but steeped in history.  There is a beautiful plague from the Lord Attenbourough which completely sums up my opinion on British Theatre. 

"The arts are not a luxury. They are as crucial to our well being, to our very existence, as eating and breathing. Access to them should not be restricted to a privileged few. Nor are they playgrounds of the intellenista The arts are for everyone and failure to include everyone diminishes us all."

Go Richard!!! 


Lovely gem hidden in the undergrounds of London. An intimate space to appreciate the minor details in the actor's expressions. Look out for back row seats where you might get partially obscured views.


A great play full of comedy that will make you laugh. Excellent acting and great use of props. A very clever and witty production. Go and see it.

Snap up exclusive discounts in London

Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...