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Old Red Lion

Theatre, Fringe Angel
4 out of 5 stars
Old Red Lion Theatre

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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This beloved Islington pub theatre offers new writing and pints a plenty

The Old Red Lion is most famous for the matchbox-sized fringe theatre that sits above it, staging no-budget productions of plays both old and (mostly) new. It's been in operation since 1979, making it one of London's oldest pub theatres, along with its neighbouring venue The King's Head. In its four decades in business, an impressive succession of actors, writers and companies have come through its doors, including Stephen Daldry, Nina Raine, and the guys behind West End mega-hit 'The Play That Went Wrong', which got its start here. Today, it's overseen by artistic director and theatre manager Katy Danbury. The 50-seater black box space lends itself to new plays with small casts, but it also houses more ambitious endeavours, especially during its annual frightfest London Horror Festival. 

Nor should the pub itself be overlooked: The Old Red Lion theatre pub is a spacious Victorian boozer than determinedly resists the modish trappings of its Islington neighbours. Although it could use a spruce-up, it’s a handsome place at heart, part-partitioned by an etched-glass screen and otherwise furnished with old-fashioned pub booths, tables and stools, and featuring a small but welcome beer garden out the back. Your company at the bar will be a mix of quiet pint-nursing regulars (the beer is very decent, with Harveys Sussex Best among the five ales), pre- and post-theatre drinkers, the occasional student (City University is down the road) and refugees from the alcoholic turbulence closer to the Angel.



Address: 418 St John Street
Transport: Tube: Angel tube
Opening hours: Open noon-midnight Mon-Thur, Sun; noon-1am Fri, Sat
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