King's Head Theatre

Theatre, Musicals Barnsbury
4 out of 5 stars
(17user reviews)
© Andrew Brackenbury The King's Head

Started in the 1970s as London's first pub theatre on a spectacularly lean budget, the King's Head Theatre is a tiny space tucked away at the back of a Victorian boozer on Islington's Upper Street. In the past, it's helped launched a raft of stars, among them Hugh Grant, Steven Berkoff and Alan Rickman, and today boasts Joanna Lumley and Tom Stoppard as patrons. It flirted with a major change of direction in 2011 when Adam Spreadbury-Maher became artistic director and turned it into a fringe opera venue, though it has since reverted to a more traditional fringe-style programme.


Venue name: King's Head Theatre
Address: 115
Upper Street
N1 1QN
Transport: Tube: Angel/Highbury & Islington
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Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:3
1 person listening

Tiny theatre for fringe productions, upstairs of King's Head pub in the busy Upper street in Islington. Considered as one of the first pub/theatre places in London, definately worth your visit. Cheap drinks downstairs as well as cheap tickets for the theatre performances, some of which are quite interesting.


Known as being the first theatre pub since Shakespearean times the pub/theatre definitely has its quirks. As a pub the atmosphere is fun with most nights playing host to some form of entertainment but it’s definitely an ‘older crowd scene’. I went on a Tuesday – cheese and quiz night – although we didn’t order any food the £15 cheese boards being served looked incredible. The theatre is at the back of the pub and I was attending the opening night of a new London production, Adam Eve and Steve. The venue is small and intimate and overall the experience was fun, just a bit different. What I will say about the theatre is that the seats were incredibly uncomfortable, thankfully the play was only an hour and a half as I don’t think I could have sat in there for much longer.


First amazing thing to notice about this pub is the facade with its amazing wood work and bow/curved windows.

The King's head is located on the vibrant Upper street and always has something going on! (Theatre, gigs, comedy shows...)

With all these great events and atmosphere I was expecting the drinks prices to be outrageous but NO!! Price are perfectly reasonable!

I can't recommend this pub enough!


Kings head theatre

Of those who enjoy the feeling of a traditional pub with a bit of a theatrical twist, The Kings Head is the place for you! Boasting great drinks at reasonable prices, and tickets to new writing productions to boot, a visit definitely satisfies anyone looking for a varied night out!

If you go, make sure you look for Alex who works behind the bar, and is very smiley and friendly no matter how past it you get.

The staff are approachable and open to requests for strange drinks or to make up their own if you're not feeling very inventive!

I've been going there since just after I moved to Islington in 1970 and remember the glory days of Dan Crawford and getting change in old money. All their productions are wonderful, though I have a soft spot especially for those connected with Sheridan Morley, my kids' godfather. The opera is always wonderful, especially the all-male Gilbert & Sullivan, which had everyone shrieking with laughter.

I have seen the most weird, wonderful and surprising performances here, and when I'm not watching a show, the pub and the live music are fantastic as well.

Service was appalling. Waited patiently at bar as all of the regulars got served, then waited some more as staff went off to collect glasses, then waited more for staff to return and serve more regulars.

Left after 10 minutes of standing at bar, being ignored.


This intimate Victorian pub/theatre is a hidden treasure in Angel. With a great selection of beer and features such as gas lights, coal fires and lots of old photos, it's the perfect hideaway. Well known for its music and theatre, The Kings Head is known for introducing and supporting new talent. It's definitely worth a visit, whether just for a pint or to see a show. It's especially good if you want to show people another side of London.


A classic pub and fringe venue that is steeped in history. It's all a bit run down but what do you expect? The place fills out easily and always has an atmosphere with or without the live music. The theatre never seems to be dark; the space is a good size and functions well with a variety of work. Shame the cash register is no more.

recent takeover by Youngs has injected some much needed business acumen into the old dear. Ale is improved as is wine list and half-arsed pub grub is now provided without an actual kitchen. Live music endures as does the theatre, which is currently overdosing on gay plays, so be aware of the usher announcing loudly "last call for fucking men" to the Hoxton beardy horde.

Love to attend events here - have been coming for years and have loved every production I have gone to.

Dirty toilets, poor service and rude staff. This place has gone downhill since getting a late licence.

I loved "Elixir of Love". Everything was spot on - singing, acting, direction and translation. In fact I am going to book to see the parallel cast who have had equally good reviews. Hope it has not sold out yet!

So much fun to have our very own opera house in Islington. Have now seen three new opera productions here (Barber of Seville, Madam Butterfly & The Coronation of Poppea) and would highly recommend every single one. Wonderful to have singers so close up, you see every expression. No food served in the pub these days, but lots of good finds on Upper Street. Look forward to the next opera!

I have never experienced such poor customer service. The theatre cancelled the performance of Barber of Seville for the third time in a row and hasn't notified me in time. Avoid buying tickets in advance for their shows as the show will probably be cancelled.