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National Theatre

Theatre, Public and national theatres South Bank
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National Theatre, The Shed  (© Philip Vile)
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© Philip Vile
 (© Philip Vile)
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© Philip Vile
 (© Philip Vile)
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© Philip Vile
Interior architecture (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out
National Theatre (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out
National Theatre architecture (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out
National Theatre interior (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out
National Theatre Stairs (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out

Time Out says

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

The world's greatest theatre?

The National Theatre is closed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Shows won’t restart until at least July, although one show a week from the NT Live vaults will be streamed on Thursday nights from April 2.

Arguably the greatest theatre in the world, the Royal National Theatre is also one of London's most recognisable landmarks and perhaps this country's foremost example of brutalist architecture. It boasts three auditoriums – the epic, ampitheatre-style Olivier, the substantial end-on space Lyttelton and the Dorfman, a smaller venue for edgier work. It's got a firm foothold on the West End, thanks to transferring shows like 'War Horse' and 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'. In summer, it spills out onto Southbank with its River Stage line-up of outdoor events. And its NT Live programme beams its greatest hits to cinemas across the globe.

NT Live is just one of the initiatives to issue forth from the golden reign of former artistic director Nicholas Hytner, which saw a canny mix of modernised classics, popular new writing, and a splash of hip experimental work fill out the houses night after night. These days, Hytner's successor Rufus Norris calls the shots, with a programme that's stuck with many Hytner fundamentals but offered an edgier, more international spin, with a run of ambitious, experimental and often divisive works.

The NT is a popular hangout for theatre fans, thanks to its warren-like array of spots to work and play. The theatre's busy Kitchen churns out an impressively quirky, delicious array of seasonal baked goods, and there are pre-theatre dinners on offer at flagship restaurant House. But the real insider's hangout is The Understudy, a rough-and-ready riverside bar which brews its own lager and is thronged with theatre hipsters on pretty much any night of the week.

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Address: South Bank
London
SE1 9PX
Transport: Rail/Tube: Waterloo
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  • Shakespeare Saturday August 15 2020
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