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Harold Pinter Theatre

  • Theatre
  • Leicester Square

Time Out says

This Victorian playhouse is all about the Pinter (but has been known to stage other playwrights too)

In 2011, this historical Victorian theatre got rechristened Harold Pinter Theatre, as a tribute to the legendary playwright, director and all-round master of menace. And the venue takes its moniker pretty seriously. In 2018, it topped off its longstanding record of staging Pinter plays by launching a huge season of Pinter revivals, with basically every famous British actor you can think of making star appearances, and director Jamie Lloyd at the helm. 

But long before Pinter unleashed his first scribblings, this playhouse started life as the Comedy Theatre in 1888, which regaled Victorian audiences with a line-up of operettas and now-forgotten farces. From then on, its programming continued along reasonably conventional lines until 1956, when it made a bold bid to confront theatre industry censorship. In an age where the Lord Chamberlain vetoed anything that smacked of sex of violence, the theatre evaded censorship by becoming a private club. It subsequently staged the London premieres of groundbreaking hits like Arthur Miller's ‘A View From the Bridge’ and ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ by Tennessee Williams. When rules were finally relaxed, it was able to show Peter Shaffer's hit play 'Five Finger Exercise' to a general audience, alongside a line-up that focused on 'proper drama' by the likes of Shakespeare, Wilde, Shaw, and yes, Pinter. 

Harold Pinter Theatre is a 796-seater house with seats over four horseshoe-shaped balcones, decorated in refined and ever-so-Victorian shades of china blue, cream and gold. Outside, its neo-Classical facade makes an imposing addition to Panton Street, tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus.


Panton Street
Tube: Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square
Opening hours:
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Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

  • Drama

Sam Steiner’s debut play, a surreal romcom about a couple struggling to cope in a society where language has inexplicably been rationed was a big word-of-mouth success at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe. Steiner’s career has pottered along interestingly since, but in a welcome but unexpected turn, it’s ‘Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons’ that’s set to finally give him as a taste of the big time as the show is revived by director Josie Rourke with a starry cast of Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman. It’s a short, quirky play but one with lots for the cast to get stuck into, and seems to nicely fit the mould of Nick Payne’s ‘Constellations’ and Duncan Macmillan’s ‘Lungs’, both indie two-handers that have gone on to be substantial hits in big, starry revivals. 

A Little Life

  • Drama

Despite selling two-and-a-half million copies, Hanya Yanagihara’s novel ‘A Little Life’ has proven unadaptable into a television series, apparently because her story of four male friends whose lives turn out terribly has proven too depressing for TV execs (and Yanagihara has been intractable about watering it down). No such problem for Belgian super director Ivo van Hove, whose Dutch stage version of ‘A Little Life’ has been kicking around for a few years now, and played a short season at the Edinburgh International Festival last summer. In 2023 it will debut in English language form, for a West End run starring James Norton as the story’s deeply troubled central character, Jude, along with Luke Thompson (Willem), Omari Douglas (JB), Zach Wyatt (Malcolm). It’s definitely a ballsy production to be bringing to the West End, not least because it’s a long evening of theatre – though it has been trimmed down from the four-hour Dutch version.

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