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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Things to do
National Theatre Posters
Curated by design critic and writer Rick Poynor, this new exhibition at the National Theatre's Wolfson gallery showcasing poster design at the NT from the ‘60s to the present day. See original designs by Ken Briggs, Richard Bird, Michael Mayhew, Charlotte...Exhibitions Until Saturday March 31 2018 Free
Clearly there are going to be those who think Belgian super-director Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 satirical film ‘Network’ is an almighty fucking mess. And they may have a point. But the whole thing is so spectacularly staged –...Drama Until Saturday March 24 2018
The National Theatre has just netted a stupendous 22 Olivier nominations, a massive haul that should by rights halt the persistent low-level mutterings about Rufus Norris’s leadership. And yet, despite glorious exceptions like ‘Follies’ – responsible...Shakespeare Until Saturday June 23 2018
‘The Great Wave’ review
This gripping tear-jerker from Northern Irish-Japanese writer Francis Turnly is a decades-spanning thriller about the North Korean abduction of Japanese citizens in the late ’70s. Hanako (Kirsty Rider) is a rebellious 17-year-old Japanese teen who inexplicably...Drama Until Saturday April 14 2018
A few eyebrows were raised at the National Theatre’s decision to hop into bed with Disney and co-produce a stage musical version of the 1940 classic ‘Pinocchio’, about an animated puppet boy who desperately wants to be human. With ‘Harry Potter and the...Musicals Tuesday March 27 2018 - Saturday March 31 2018
'Amadeus' will screen in cinemas nationwide from Feb 2 The audacious decision to have an actual full-on orchestra – the Southbank Sinfonia – wandering the stage playing Mozart’s greatest hits doesn’t overpower the human drama in Michael Longhurst’s stupendous...Drama Thursday March 29 2018 - Tuesday April 24 2018
One of the unlikelier additions to the NT's Spring season, 'Absolute Hell' is a filthy, bleak comedy set in postwar drinking den. Rodney Ackland’s play pretty much sunk his career when it first opened in 1952, shocking audiences with its portrayal of...Comedy Wednesday April 18 2018 - Wednesday May 23 2018
Natasha Gordon's new play is inspired by traditional Jamaican grieving rituals. Gloria's children and grandchildren mark her passing with a Nine Night Wake, but the endless rituals, parties, and mourners quickly take their toll. Gordon started her career...Drama Saturday April 21 2018 - Friday May 25 2018
Often cited as the late, great Brian Friel's greatest play, 1980's ‘Translations’ is set in County Donegal, 1833, as local lad owen return to the village of his birth with two British soldiers in tow, to embark upon an ambitious project of mapping and...Drama Tuesday May 22 2018 - Saturday July 7 2018
Polly Stenham’s second play for the National Theatre is a new version of Strindberg's endlessly adapted ‘Miss Julie’. Directed by Carrie Cracknell, it stars Vanessa Kirby as the eponymous young woman, who celebrates her newfound singledom by throwing...Drama Thursday May 31 2018 - Saturday August 4 2018
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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.