Get us in your inbox


Duke of York’s Theatre

  • Theatre
  • Covent Garden
Duke of Yorks.JPG

Time Out says

Serious drama is the order of the day at this Victorian playhouse with a pedigree

Whereas yer average West End theatre houses shows that run for years, or even decades, Duke of York's Theatre has a snappier (and more serious-minded) turnover. Its 640-seater auditorium houses an ever-changing line-up of hit dramas transferring from Off-West End and quality new productions of classic plays.

Its substantial theatrical pedigree includes the premiere of J M Barrie's 'Peter Pan' in 1904, which is commemorated in the venue's Barrie bar, decorated from mementoes honouring the boy who wouldn't grow up. It also made opera history at the turn of the century, when composer Puccini visited a production of the play 'Madame Butterfly' and was inspired to turn it into the heartbreaking opera of the same name. A 14-year-old Charlie Chaplin made his only stage appearance in 1905, in a production of 'Sherlock Holmes'. And the Duke of York's made history off stage as well as on; in 1929, a meeting held in the theatre resulted in the creation of actor's union Equity.

Duke of York's Theatre was built in 1892, and was the first playhouse constructed on St Martin's Lane – it's since been joined by London Coliseum, St Martin's Theatre, and Noel Coward Theatre. It's unusual among West End theatres for being a standalone building: originally, dressing rooms were in a neighbouring house, and reached by a covered iron bridge. Outside, it's all late Classical grandeur with ornate doric columns. Inside, it glows in subtle shades of red and tobacco brown, with three balconies and elegantly restrained gilt flourishes – perfectly designed to prepare an audience for some serious drama.


St Martin's Lane
Tube: Charing Cross
Opening hours:
Temporarily Closed
Do you own this business?
Sign in & claim business

What’s on

‘The Doctor’ review

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Drama

Although I’m a fully paid member of the Robert Icke fan club, I didn’t love the wunderkind writer-director’s last UK play when I saw it in 2019. ‘The Doctor’ got rapturous reviews, but coming at the end of the extraordinary run of plays that he made while working for the Almeida Theatre, I thought it lacked the gut-punch emotional wallop of his best work, a bit more head than heart. But in the ‘10s we were spoiled by a constant stream of Icke’s work. Three years on, and the West End transfer of ‘The Doctor’ is the first London has heard from him since the last time it was on stage – partly the pandemic, but largely because he’s been working elsewhere. He’s also seemingly stopped doing interviews, and national press weren’t allowed to see his recent regional touring production of ‘Animal Farm’ (brilliant, according to my mum). In this context, it’s bloody good to have ‘The Doctor’ back. It clicked with me more the second time. But also it’s a simple case of not appreciating what you’ve got until it’s gone. And Icke has been gone too long. ‘The Doctor’ is an extremely full-on rewrite of Austrian dramatist Arthur Schnitzel’s 1912 drama ‘Professor Bernhardi’, which you’d be forgiven for not being familiar with because it hasn’t had a proper UK production in decades.  Juliet Stevenson stars as the imperious Professor Ruth Wolff, an eminent secular Jewish doctor and founder of a pioneering dementia research institute. As the play begins, it’s clear from the chatter of Wolff’s colle

Mother Goose

  • Panto

Ian McKellen did a couple of memorable seasons as Widow Twanky at the Old Vic back in the day, but even with his zestful approach to his ‘80s – which have seen him offer up a one-man autobiographical show, two versions of ‘Hamlet’ and a ‘Cherry Orchard’ – nobody would necessarily imagine he’d commit to a monthslong UK and Ireland tour of panto staple ‘Mother Goose’. But here we are, delightfully enough, with a length stint in the West End booked over Christmas. McKellen will naturally dame up again in the title role of a kindly animal shelter owner whose head is turned when a goose that literally lays golden eggs flies in through her window one day. Top comedy director Cal McCrystal directs McKellen alongside John Bishop as Mother Goose’s husband Vic, and Anna-Jane Casey as the goose. 

The Pillowman

  • Drama

Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Pillowman’ is probably the greatest play of modern times to not transfer to the West End. Its original National Theatre – starring a pre-‘Doctor Who’ David Tennant – won massive acclaim at the National Theatre in 2003, and was restaged for Broadway with Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum, but for whatever reason the West End didn’t happen. McDonagh has been promising a big revival since at least 2015, and one was due to finally run in 2020, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson taking the lead role of storytelling protagonist Katurian. But that got totalled by the pandemic. But now… it looks like it’s actually on! Taylor-Johnson has dropped out, but McDonagh’s latterday director of choice Matthew Dunster will direct Lily Allen and Steve Pemberton in McDonagh’s sinister masterpiece set in a totalitarian state in which a writer, Katurian, is questioned over a spate of killings with an uncanny similarity to her gristly short stories. While it arguably seems somewhat bold to gender reverse the lead character in what is the first-ever UK revival of ‘The Pillowman’, Katurian’s sex isn’t especially important to the plot. Dunster directed Allen in her stage debut, 2021’s ‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’, in which she was very decent: this will require a bit more range, but she should rise to the challenge. And even if she’s awful, at least we finally get to see the bloody ‘Pillowman’ again.

You may also like
    Bestselling Time Out offers

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!