The world's greatest theatre?
Arguably the greatest theatre in the world, the Royal National Theatre is also one of London's most iconic landmarks and perhaps this country's foremost example of brutalist architecture. It boasts four auditoriums – Olivier, Lyttelton, Dorfman and Temporary – a firm foothold on the West End thanks to 'War Horse' and 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time', 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 Nicholas Hytner, which saw a canny mix of modernised classics, popular new writing, the odd worthy excavation from the canon and a splash of hip experimental work fill out the houses night after night, something further driven by a major initiative to reduce ticket prices by actively seeking private sponsorship, notably that of Travelex, who heavily subside tickets in the Lyttelton and Olivier.
The current artistic director is Hytner's successor Rufus Norris, whose initial programming has stuck with many Hytner fundamentals but offered an edgier, more international spin.
Following major upgrade work in 2014, the National Theatre sports all manner of eating and drinking facilities, including flagship restaurant House. Our top tip is The Understudy, a fine riverside bar which brews its own lager and plays excellent music.
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|Opening hours:||9.30am-11pm Mon-Sat (12noon-6pm Sun when there is a performance in the building)|
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Things to do
National Theatre Backstage Tours
Subservience of form to function is bracingly absolute in Sir Denys Lasdun's building, which was completed in 1976. The Lyttleton sits at the apex of an L-shape, with massive storage areas behind and to one side. This facilitates the repertory system...Walks and tours Until Thursday October 19 2017
Angels in America
Tony Kushner's landmark 'Angels in America' is a mad, eight-hour quasi-religious 'gay fantasia on national themes' that was written in response to – amongst many other things – the AIDS epidemic that was still raging upon its UK premiere at the National...Drama Until Saturday August 19 2017
DC Moore's new play is a scurrilous story of the battle for England's lost common land. The consistently great Anne-Marie Duff plays Mary, a thief who gets swept up in a mission to save her former home as the industrial revolution swallows villages whole. The...Drama Tuesday May 30 2017 - Saturday August 5 2017
Ugly Lies the Bone
Presumably a pet project of its director, Tricycle Theatre boss Indhu Rubasingham, 'Ugly Lies the Bone' by Lindsey Ferrentino is a peculiar, undernourished US drama that feels like it would be unlikely to have been flattered by the NT’s vast resources...Drama Tuesday May 30 2017 - Tuesday June 6 2017
Barber Shop Chronicles
As this new play shows, an African barber's shop can be a pretty amazing place: a soapbox, a confessional, a newsroom and a pulpit rolled into one. Poet and playwright Inua Ellam's drama explores men's stories in barber shops from London to Accra. Bijan...Drama Tuesday May 30 2017 - Saturday July 8 2017
Yaël Farber’s ‘Salomé’ is a genuinely Biblical spectacle. Even if you hate it, there will be moments when designer Susan Hilferty and her team will make your jaw plummet, as cascades of sand and diaphanous walls of cloth descend without warning from the...Drama Friday June 9 2017 - Saturday July 15 2017
See five seldom-staged 21st century queer theatre classics at the National Theatre's series of rehearsed readings this July. As you might expect, the line-up features some vintage gay plays: Peter Gill directs his own 1999 'Certain Young Men', a look...Drama Thursday July 6 2017 - Monday July 10 2017
After her sprawling, intense hit 'Chimerica', Lucy Kirkwood's back at the NT with a new play about sisterhood and tragedy, directed by NT boss Rufus Norris. A scientist is working on the Large Hadron Collider, in search of the Higgs Boson particle. Then...Drama Tuesday July 18 2017 - Thursday September 28 2017
Things to do
The National Theatre's River Stage returns to the South Bank for Summer 2017, with another bustling line-up of free live music, dance, performance, workshops and family fun. Weekend evenings will see a varied programme of entertainment take place in front...Festivals Friday July 28 2017 - Sunday August 27 2017 Free
Fingers on the buzzer: Rob Drummond's new show invites the audience to decide its path by pressing buttons at their seats. He'll use their input to navigate some of the most momentous referendums of the past few years, in a show about democracy that'll...Interactive Friday August 11 2017 - Monday August 28 2017
Average User Rating
4.7 / 5
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- 4 star:2
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An amazing contemporary venue that allows you get up close to stars big and small in a tremendously creative space.
Might be the most special venue in the entire world for me. You could spend the entire day here and fell at home & entertainted. Contantly changing yet stays the most welcoming. It may look like a fortress from the outside but once you step in you just don't wanna leave. Magic space! Happy 52th birthday, btw )
A wonderful space for the public as well as a place to see some fantastic theatre, often at extremely reasonable prices. Really good coffee too!
Nothing like the National! Best night out in London and seeing the inner workings of his great theater is a delight! Don miss it!!
The National never fail in excelling with putting on some first class pieces of theatre. The Travelex season makes it even sweeter, as well as the building being a great example of brutalist architecture, and located in one of my favourite parts of London.
Outstanding. If you haven't been to watch something here yet, you haven't experienced true London. This is how theatre should be done.