The world's greatest theatre?
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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‘Small Island’ review
There have been times during Rufus Norris’s tenure in charge of the National Theatre when the prospect of him finding a decent new play to run in the huge Olivier theatre has seemed as distant a prospect as him inventing faster-than-light travel. And...Drama Until Saturday August 10 2019
‘Rutherford and Son’ review
A tip for watching Polly Findlay’s revival of Githa Sowerby’s classic 1912 play: get there early. Some of the most spectacular stuff happens in the pre-show, where a huge screen of very cold-looking artificial rain plummets torrentially from the ceiling,...Tuesday July 23 2019 - Saturday August 3 2019
Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear - The Musical!
This new kids' musical from the NT follows a large bear called Padlock, a horrible old man called Mr Gum, and a nine-year-old girl who's determined to foil his plans. 'Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear' is based on Andy Stanton's popular children's book: he'll...Children's Thursday July 25 2019 - Saturday August 31 2019
Fill yer boots with free live music, dance and theatre at the National Theatre’s free outdoor mini-festival weekends, which are back for Summer 2019 with a revamped line-up. River Stage takes over a dedicated spot on Southbank outside the theatre, offering...Outdoor theatres Friday July 26 2019 - Sunday August 4 2019 Free
The Secret River
Sydney Theatre Company's blockbuster adaptation of 'The Secret River' turns a modern Australian literary classic in a poignant theatrical epic, imagined in collaboration with Aboriginal artists. Kate Grenville's novel dives into the world of early settlers...Drama Thursday August 22 2019 - Saturday September 7 2019
This new Thatcher-era satire follows a Tory politician on the edge. It's the work of Simon Woods, an actor-turned-playwright who's filled out period suits in costume dramas like the 2005 movie 'Pride & Prejudice' and the BBC's Cranford. 'Hansard' is a...Drama Thursday August 22 2019 - Monday November 25 2019
Faith, Hope & Charity
Director Alexander Zeldin and his hardhitting devised dramas have been one of the real success stories of the Rufus Norris-era National Theatre, ever since his play about zero hours contracts ‘Beyond Caring’ was plucked from the stage of The Yard. That...Drama Monday September 9 2019 - Saturday October 12 2019
‘Peter Gynt’ review
Grand old institution though it is, on a sunny day the National Theatre’s repertoire can still look obscenely fresh and youthful. But it does have at least one portrait mouldering away in its attic. And by ‘portrait’ I mean the increasingly trying works...Drama Tuesday September 10 2019 - Tuesday October 8 2019
Ian McKellen On Stage
Unstoppable stage and screen legend Sir Ian McKellen has spent the best part of 2019 touring an autobiographical stage show – formerly called ‘Tolkien, Shakespeare, others …and you!’, now subtitled that – to 80 venues across the nation, each of which...Drama Sunday September 15 2019 - Sunday January 5 2020
‘Master Harold’… and the boys
There's been a bit of a resurgence of interest in apartheid-era South African playwright Athol Fugard lately, with recent off-West End revivals of dramas including 'Blood Knot' and 'A Lesson from Aloes'. Now the NT is getting in on the act with a big...Drama Saturday September 21 2019 - Tuesday December 17 2019
Average User Rating
4.8 / 5
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The national theatre puts on epically large productions with beautiful set designs that you can't help be impressed by. I love that they're so openly encouraging to get people from all works of life into theatre thought NT live and their young person discounts. However, my teeny tiny qualm would be that the productions can feel slightly too big - you sometimes loose the beautiful intimacy that you can find in my very favourite theatre (the Old Vic). That being said - a ticket purchase here will never be too far wrong!
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.
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