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Superheavyweight director Matthew Warchus (‘Pride’, ‘Matilda’) surprised the theatre world this year by succeeding Kevin Spacey as artistic director of the venerable Old Vic. His dynamic first season starts with Rob Brydon-starring new play ‘Future Conditional’ – but it’s not just the shows that have changed.
The Old Vic is looking very different these days: you’ve got a new café-bar and the foyer looks like an actual modern theatre…
‘It is designed to reflect the thrust of where we’re going. What I like about the name Old Vic is that it sounds like a pub. What I don’t like is that it’s got the word “old” in it. The Young Vic sounds so much more exciting. So whenever I hear “old” I think of its opposites: “new” and “young”. We’re going to carry on doing classics but by increasing the amount of productions we do each year we can offset that with really contrasting stuff.’
So it’s a bit less posh now?
‘Do you like our new logo? We got rid of the crest. It seemed a little bit… heritage-y. There’s no royal appointment on this building, so the crest was a bit of an anomaly. It all just looked very corporate, the programmes looked like brochures for investment banks.’
‘Future Conditional’ seems like a change of pace too…
‘Yeah, a really energetic, almost rock ’n’ roll new play about the school system probably isn’t the sort of thing you could do in a 1,000-seat theatre for the old 12-week runs, but we’re just doing five.’
The big-hitter of your 2016 season is Tim Minchin’s musical version of ‘Groundhog Day’ – how similar will it be to the film?
‘Danny Rubin, who wrote the film, is writing it. He wanted everything to be completely different and I had quite a lot of discussions with him to say “I think this could be a little more like the film.” There’s something about turning it into a musical that makes the story start to feel differently anyway. It’s hard to imagine Bill Murray singing, so that instantly changes it.’
You’ve said you only want this job for five years – why?
‘I think refreshing the theatre every five years is probably a good idea. But maybe I’ll still be here in 15 years – who knows?’
‘Future Conditional’ is at the Old Vic from Oct 3. Book with Time Out for an exclusive Q&A on Sep 15.