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Lyric Hammersmith

  • Theatre
  • Hammersmith
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Lyric Hammersmith

Time Out says

Leftfield theatre remains at the heart of this striking Hammersmith arts hub

The Lyric Hammersmith is closed due to the coronavirus epidemic. The programme is technically due to resume with ‘Antigone: The Burial at Thebes’ on April 18.

Emerging in 2015 from a multimillion pound makeover, the Lyric Hammersmith is less a simple theatre, more a multipurpose community hub that includes everything from recording studios to digital development rooms.

But plays remain at the heart of it all, thanks to the singular artistic directorship of Sean Holmes, who has turned the Lyric Hammersmith into a venue both avant-garde and accessible, marking it with his own, very European directorial style. He's leaving in 2019, to be replaced by incoming artistic director Rachel O'Riordan, who's had an impressive run of success at the helm of Cardiff's Sherman Theatre.

Exploring the Lyric's interior is a play of two halves; the front of house areas are all shiny concrete-floored modernity. But step inside the theatre's auditorium and you're suddenly transported into a carefully preserved 1895 Frank Matcham-designed roccoco interior of rare splendour, complete with an unusual, curved proscenium arch. That's because when the original Lyric Theatre was demolished in 1969, its auditorium was painstakingly removed and carefully preserved in a new theatre down the road, which opened in 1979, before being thoroughly revamped and expanded in the 21st century. 

The Lyric Hammersmith's tickets are cheaply priced, with many major shows staging a free preview for local residents. It's never fuller than at panto season, when the auditorium is packed out with families, and its regular Little Lyric strand of programming lures in kids during the school holidays. 

It's also arguably one of the best spots in central Hammersmith to grab a pint and a bite to eat, not least on its first floor roof terrace, which is a green and pleasant oasis in the middle of gritty W6.


Lyric Square, King St
W6 0QL
Tube: Hammersmith
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What’s on

God of Carnage

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Comedy

Yasmina Reza’s ‘God of Carnage’ is a quintessential ‘00s artefact, up there with MySpace, ‘The Wire’ and the first Strokes album. It’s one of two massive, global hits enjoyed by the French polymath, following on from her gargantuan ‘90s smash ‘Art’. The original, Matthew Warchus-directed, English-language productions of both plays were so of a piece with their eras that neither has had a major revival up to this point (the original ’90s production of ‘Art’ came back a few years ago and felt… dated). I imagine Reza would probably write ‘God of Carnage’ a little differently today. But Nicholai la Barrie’s first revival is a very fair production, that adds a few subtle, modern touches without trying to actually get away from the essence of the writing. Reza’s story concerns two middle-class couples who are meeting to (in theory) politely discuss the fact that the son of Alan (Ariyon Bakare) and Annette (Dinita Gohil) recently used a big stick to knock out a couple of the teeth of the son of Veronica (Freema Agyeman) and Michael (Martin Hutson). It is, in many ways, an exquisitely wrought study in passive aggression. If the couples were a little happier in themselves, the play would end after five minutes. However. Under her ostentatiously cheerful facade, bougie writer Veronica is clearly seething, both at the incident and her feckless husband Michael, whose superficially practical exterior conceals both a craven lack of backbone and a blithe selfishness that has just led to him


  • Panto

Traditionally the Lyric Hammersmith’s panto is the edgiest in town, with comic and former regular villain of the show Vikki Stone going in all guns blazing with 2021’s Boris-bashing ‘Aladdin’. She’s back on writing duties for ‘Cinderella’, the 2023 panto, in which Tilly La Belle Yengo will star as a ‘boss-lady’ Cinders who has her own stall at Shepherd’s Bush Market, where she’s happened upon by a disguides Prince Henry who is instantly smitten. The ensemble includes Olivier-nominated Emmaual Akwafo as Lady Jelly Bottom, following on from his fine turn in last year’s ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Children's

This review of the show is from 2014. Raymond Briggs's 'Father Christmas' returns to the Lyric for Christmas 2023, as it does every Christmas. This Lyric Christmas staple brings Raymond Briggs’s ‘Father Christmas’ to enchanting life. The author of ‘The Snowman’ is known for his beautiful depictions of the season – and this adaptation by theatre company Pins and Needles is equally charming. Zoe Squire’s hand-painted set has an old-school appeal to it, complete with gorgeous wooden animal puppets by Max Humphries. Santa’s sleigh is a spectacle: his huge reindeers gallop through the dry ice that slowly fills the stage. And the twinkling fake snow gives a truly chilly atmosphere. In an original twist, Kate Adams performs the music and sound effects live on stage, perched in an attic-style room above the action. She rattles maracas when Father Christmas (Vic Llewellyn) shakes salt on his breakfast, whistles when the kettle boils and becomes a well-spoken radio voice reporting snowy weather. In the spirit of the book it’s based on, Llewellyn – who’s the spitting image of Briggs’s drawing – is a rather grumpy Santa, moaning about the ‘bloomin’ cold’ and ‘bloomin’ chimneys’ as he performs his Christmas duties.  All good, but although you’d hardly expect a complex plot in a play for the under-sixes, the complete lack of storyline means it’s not really going to be that stimulating for accompanying adults and older children. A large section of the play is simply Father Christmas’s morni

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