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Old Vic

  • Theatre
  • Waterloo
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  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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‘Sylvia’ review

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Musicals

In the wake of mega hits ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Emilia’, it feels like a hip hop suffragette musical is what theatre fans are crying out for. But despite a dynamite cast, ZooNation director Kate Prince’s ‘Sylvia’ probably won’t get audiences rioting in the streets. Retooled after an Old Vic run in 2018 that was hastily restyled as a work-in-progress, it’s now polished but painfully polite, steering clear of political rabble-rousing in favour of a historically faithful trundle through early twentieth-century politics. Sylvia starts out as her mother Emmeline Pankhurst’s protegée. In a song that hits many of the same bases as ‘My Shot’ from ‘Hamilton’ (the first of lots of hard-to-ignore parallels), she outlines her mission: to get the vote for women, with her family’s full support. Sharon Rose’s likeable performance here is full of bright-eyed sincerity, but what’s missing is a sense of the obstreperousness that Sylvia must have had: it’s jarring when she’s tried in court for ‘abusive language and causing a public disturbance’ when all she’s done is rather sweetly call a few men ‘cocks’, with accompanying playground flapping-chicken arms. Matters aren’t helped by the tasteful monochrome full-skirted costumes, either, which make Sylvia’s gang look like they’re about to hand you a plate of buns in some kind of old-timey tearoom. As Mama Emmeline, Beverley Knight adds a bit of welcome fire, but she feels underused. She incites the gang to march for women’s rights in a gospel-style numbe

Groundhog Day

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Musicals

‘Groundhog Day’, Tim Minchin’s adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray classic, returns to the Old Vic in 2023, seven years after its original run, with Andy Karl reprising his turn as Phil Conners. The below review is from its original 2016 run. INTERVIEW: Tim Minchin on 'Groundhog Day', Brexit and getting over Bill Murray ‘Groundhog Day’, Tim Minchin’s adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray classic, is a musical about repetition. And also redemption. ‘Groundhog Day’, Tim Minchin’s adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray classic, sees the songwriting comedian reunite with director Matthew Warchus. It’s the dream team who made ‘Matilda’, the best British musical of the twenty-first century (apart from maybe ‘London Road’). ‘Groundhog Day’, Tim Minchin’s adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray classic, is not quite as good as ‘Matilda’, it’s a bit more slick and saccharine. But it is bloody good, probably the third-best British musical of the twenty-first century. ‘Groundhog Day’, Tim Minchin’s adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray classic, does not star Bill Murray as Phil Connors, the cantankerous weatherman who finds himself doomed to repeat the same day – watching a twee New England weather ceremony involving a rodent called a groundhog – over and over again. Instead it stars US actor Andy Karl. He is really very good, his matinee-ish looks making sense of Phil’s womanising arrogance. It does not star Andie MacDowell as Phil’s TV producer love interest Rita, but rather Carlyss Peer, who brings

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