Gielgud Theatre

Theatre, Musicals Soho
Gielgud Theatre

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The Gielgud is owned by the Delfont Mackintosh group and seats just under 900 people on three levels. It was designed by WGR Sprague in a neo-classical style and opened in 1907 as the Hicks Theatre, named after actor-manager and playwright Seymour Hicks. American impresario Charles Frohman took over in 1909 and renamed it the Globe, reopening the theatre with a drama by Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. Taken over by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group in the 1980s and refurbished in 1987, it played host to several Ayckbourn premieres and acquired a famous theatre cat, Beerbohm, who on his death in 1995 received a front-page obituary in ‘The Stage’. To avoid confusion with Sam Wanamaker’s Bankside Shakespeare’s Globe project, the theatre’s name was changed in honour of the great thespian knight in 1992, and in 2006 Cameron Mackintosh’s Delfont Mackintosh Group took ownership and embarked on a further round of refurbishments to both the facade and the interior, which were completed in 2008.

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Venue name: Gielgud Theatre
Contact:
Address: 35-37
Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 6AR
Transport: Rail/Tube: Charing Cross; Tube: Piccadilly Circus
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A recent visit to the Gielgud Theatre to see The Ferryman and this  was my view from my 90 pound seat -  I was sitting on two coats when taking this photo, which put me at the same level as my husband who is 6ft tall and he was having the same difficulty seeing the stage as I .  And,  this was taken during the interval; so when those gentlemen in front of me turned their attention back to the stage, we could see even less.  It was the worst seating in any theatre I've ever been in, anywhere in the world.  I booked around 9 months in advance - phoned from Australia to talk to the booking office about the seating and was told these were the best available seats  in the house - they were certainly the most expensive; which, I hasten to add,  I was happy to pay, thinking I'd have a prime view.    There is barely any seating rake in this theatre (2" at most)  Now  I can appreciate that this is an old theatre with a long and distinguished history and one wouldn't want to mess with that but, surely a raised floor could be put in without too much difficulty or expense and they could keep the original seats  if they must - though they were probably the most uncomfortable I've ever sat in - and would test the muscles of a teenager's bottom, especially in a show that goes 3.5 hours. This was supposed to be our big treat during our visit to London and a month later I am still feeling disappointed and ripped off.       I also note there were a number of patrons in front of us who were also struggling to see  - it is totally unacceptable and I would love to have a word with the management about this if they would care to contact me.  

tastemaker

Gielgud Theatre, currently showing 'The Curious incident of the dog in the nighttime'' . Grade II Listing building, 110 years old. It used to be called Hicks Theatre but was renamed after the1 refurbishment in the 90's. It's situated between Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Read my review about the show separately. #totastemaker

Tastemaker

A beautiful theatre from both the outside and in, located on the very busy Shaftesbury Avenue. Although busy, the hustle and bustle of walking up to the stunning outside heightens the excitement of watching a production in the West End. Since 2014 the theatre has been showing the amazing Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime - based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott. 

The theatre entrance hall is small so gets crowded 30 minutes before the production starts however the seats even in the Royal Circle are comfy, spacious, with plenty of leg room. There are also plenty of toilets dotted around which makes a change from the usual long queue during the interval at some of the older theatres. There is a lovely grand bar area which adds to the experience but can get a little crowded. 

The view from the seats we had was still good although to the far right of the theatre in the circle. The show itself is incredibly thought provoking and is put together in the most amazing way - you really have to see it! It is definitely one of the best things I have seen at the theatre (see below for plot overview) and made even better by the theatre itself. 

 "Christopher, fifteen years old, stands beside Mrs Shears' dead dog. It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in the book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and he distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world."


Theatre right now is chock full of adaptations, be they from books or films, and the precision that borders on staginess of Hitchcock's most successful offerings seem rich pickings for translation to the stage. However, after the huge success of the hilarious, innovative and sophisticated adaptation of The 39 Steps (I nearly fell off my seat laughing) Strangers on a Train is an unfortunate misfire. Hitchcock's 1951 thriller might not be his finest hour but it is a tight, well-paced endeavour with enough tension to recommend itself and justify its 104 minute running time. Unfortunately, the team behind this flabby and vastly overlong interpretation chose to overlook the film's strengths and transform it into a 3 hour pseudopsychological mess. Delusional sociopath Bruno Anthony, played with perfectly queasy affableness by Robert Walker in the movie, is transformed into irritatingly over-the-top drunk Carl Bruno (Jack Huston), whose latent homosexuality and belaboured mother-fixation are pinned as his motives for setting up architect Guy Haines (Laurence Fox) in the criss-cross scenario. The crucial scene on the train is frustratingly short, especially in comparison to the painful and unnecessary total running time, and we spend far too much time watching both men wrestle with their own rather irritating demons (drink, depression, etc) while the dramatic tension just seeps away. Changing Haines from a tennis star to an architect was a wasteful decision, throwing away the dramatic build-up of a tennis match for long and frustrating scenes in which he wrestles with his skill, ambition and conscience - hardly the stuff of a sparky thriller. The beautiful and elaborate period set was really a waste on such a weak and uninspiring production, where attempts at modernisation and theatricality have resulted in hamminess and boredom. This is a film that could, if handled properly, have made an excellent transition from screen to stage - sadly this is not it.