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Old Vic

  • Theatre
  • Waterloo
  • Recommended
  1. Photo: Manuel Harlan
    Photo: Manuel Harlan

    The Old Vic

  2. Photo: David Jensen
    Photo: David Jensen

    The Old Vic

  3. Photo: David Jensen
    Photo: David Jensen

    The Old Vic bar


Time Out says

Former home to Kevin Spacey and the National Theatre, the Old Vic offers big, serious plays, big, serious stars and a few musicals and surprises.

One of London's most storied theatres, the Old Vic – which opened its doors in 1818 – was the first home of the National Theatre, under the stewardship of Laurence Olivier and the theatre's hugely influential manager Lilian Baylis. More recently it was run by Hollywood star Kevin Spacey. His 11-year-stint in charge turned around the previously ailing building's fortunes, although it also brought the theatre into the centre of the allegations of abuse surrounding Spacey. The current artistic director of the Old Vic is the heavyweight commercial director Matthew Warchus, who's presided over an impressive array of recent hits.

More eclectic and musical theatre-orientated in his programming than Spacey, Warchus nonetheless continues to make big name revivals of classic plays the bread and butter of his programming – more or less a given in the Old Vic's enormous space – alongside the odd enticing new commission.

The Old Vic has recently undergone a major refurbishment, which has focused on modernising its front of house areas and toilet facilities. Inside, its 1,000-seater auditorium retains its 19th century charm, featuring two traditional horseshoe-shaped balconies. Good stalls tickets top out at West End prices, but the theatre is run with a subsidised 'ethos' and the cheap seats are very affordable, with good concessionary discounts usually available (these tend to vary from show to show depending on the expected audience).

The Old Vic is just down the road from its edgier kid sister the Young Vic, and its prime location on The Cut makes its cafe/bar Penny a popular drinking spot for theatrey types. Open all day and until 2am Thursday to Saturday, it has moved from the theatre's basement to an airier upstairs spot, and aims to offer plenty to tempt non-theatre goers in, not least some of the street's latest opening hours. Pop in for seasonal food, high-end bar snacks, and biodynamic wines. 


103 The Cut
Waterloo Rd
Tube: Waterloo; Rail: Waterloo
Opening hours:
Bar open 6pm-midnight Mon and Tue; 1pm-midnight Wed; 6pm-2am Thu and Fri; 1pm-2am Sat
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‘The 47th’ review

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Drama

  Mike Bartlett's gripping blank verse fantasia on the 2024 US elections has such a relentlessly enthralling, twisty turny plot that I’m afraid I’m going to recuse myself from giving away too many details.  But here’s the one major spoiler I’ll give: ‘The 47th’ refers to the forty-seventh President of the United States, and in Bartlett’s play that’s US actor Tamara Tunie’s beleaguered Kamala Harris, who inherits the role under… circumstances (probably not the circumstances you’d expect), and as the elections loom must face off against the chaos unleashed by Bertie Carvel’s stupendous Donald Trump. ‘I know, I know, you hate me’ declares the virtually unrecognisable Carvel at the outset, as he trundles on to Miriam Buether’s sweeping thrust set in a golf cart. The 44-year-old actor is virtually half Trump’s age, and yet the transformation is uncanny: there’s the blonde wig and the fat suit, of course. But his mannerisms are the same. His jowls, somehow, are the same. And his way of speaking is just remarkable – even bound up in Bartlett’s Shakespeare-style verse, Carvel absolutely nails Trump’s weird mixture of thuggish malevolence and effete high society camp. Within the Shakespearean fantasy realm that Bartlett and director Rupert Goold have constructed, he absolutely is Trump. What he’s not is our, real Trump. The real Trump can of course barely string a sentence together, and fictionalised depictions often become obsessed with trying to replicate his speech patterns. In wri

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