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Old Vic

Theatre, West End Waterloo
5 out of 5 stars
(19user reviews)
 (Photo: Manuel Harlan)
Photo: Manuel HarlanThe Old Vic
 (Photo: David Jensen)
Photo: David JensenThe Old Vic
 (Photo: David Jensen)
Photo: David JensenThe 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.

The Old Vic is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The next production due to run in ‘Local Hero’, from June 18.

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. 



Address: 103 The Cut
Waterloo Rd
Transport: 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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  • Experimental Saturday March 28 2020
  • Drama Monday April 6 2020 - Saturday May 23 2020
  • Musicals Thursday June 18 2020 - Saturday August 22 2020

Users say (19)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:12
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

The Old Vic is synonymous with big names of theatre and films alike. The theatre is located conveniently outside the Waterloo station. It has an inviting little bar called Penny's in the basement that gets you quicker access into the auditorium. When visiting, make sure you look up, the auditorium ceiling is beautiful and would make an excellent addition to your gram.


A very beautiful building. I was sitting pretty close up front but right along the edge, but had no problems viewing the stage. The basement has the cafe and the food looked amazing, sadly we got in a bit too close to the performance to enjoy a meal. Always worth a visit if there is a play you want to see if playing there. VERY close to Waterloo so really accessible for everyone. 


There is a very special feel to this theatre, a proud and iconic building housing wonderful performances. The area now offers a good choice of drinking and dining. Crowds of theatre goers are dealt with efficiently and courteously by the well-trained staff and it hardly took 5 minutes for me to work my way through a long queue at the ticket desk and have my mobile ticket problem sorted.  A surprise and a shame then that my seat in row E was not well raked and I had difficulty viewing the stage when a tall lady sat in front of me.  Toilets are not ideally placed in the basement but are spacious and plentiful.  I always keep a lookout for productions at this theatre - which are mostly superb - but will be booking seats further back in future.


One of my favourite theatres in London it's very cosy and well run, Kevin spacey used to be the artistic director! Lots of famous faces have played here including Daniel Radcliffe! The theatre is a stones throw Aa way from Waterloo and has a great bar downstairs called penny's, not many people know about but it's fab. Top Tip Balcony seats on the side are very restricted and not very comfortable! But cheap as chips!


The Old Vic

The Old Vic is one of favourite theatres. It’s not a big theatre but rather compact, called ‘minor’ centuries ago, and very well organised. It has its special character as it’s combines old and avant-garde beauty. The foyer is full of quirky features like modern candelabras, spectacular staircase and then the theatre hall with some elements going back to the beginning of the 19th century.

The theatre is very well located at the interface of Elephant and Castle and Waterloo. It is a real special theatre, where during the interval it’s common for the audience to gather outside, that's why you need to keep your tickets and present them again when coming back. There are also so many popular bars and restaurants around so it’s very convenient for pre and post-performance outing. 


Quite a small theatre, which is really nice; great selection of shows - serious plays and more fun stuff including comedy and musicals; they do have cheap seats for the previews but a bit of a nightmare to actually get hold of - otherwise tickets are pretty pricey; not enough toilets though, so you spend the whole interval queuing. Overall a good venue!


A fabulous theatre that feels like the spirit of London is built into it's walls. Modern and ancient at the same time. You can almost feel the energy of the place. 

The auditorium is tightly packed, which gives you the feeling of actually being on stage. And it's also got a great bar that's slightly cheaper than the local Waterloo watering holes. 

TIP - Go to Penny's bar downstairs and you can jump the queue to get into the auditorium. Double win. 


One of my favourite theatres - it has a real mix of old and new. The bar is really nice too.

All seats are pretty good views and it's not crazy big like the west end theatres.


This venue is accessible for wheelchair users. There is a separate entrance round the back with a ramp to get up a couple of steps. However, the ramp is too steep to be able to get up without any assistance. There is a bay for a wheelchair, although I would have preferred to transfer to a seat (not sure if this was an option). Staff were helpful, introducing themselves and very informative. There is an accessible toilet not too far. The performance was good and the wheelchair spot is quite close to the front so had good views too.


I thoroughly adored my visit to The Old Vic Theatre when I went to see Samuel Beckett's No's Knife. It was performed by Lisa Dwan who did such an extraordinary, passionate performance. It was a one hour show so conceived by Lisa Dwan and she brought a tremendous experience to the stage.

Absolutely fell in love with the exterior of the theatre and I wasn't expecting it to look rather like a glamorous pub hence the name 'The Old Vic'.

It's almost situated in the middle of Waterloo and it feels like it doesn't belong to the rest of area. It looks exquisitely attracting to the eye.

It had a vintage inspired, wooden feel to it and it also felt luxurious with a very special twist to both the exterior and interior of the Old Vic.

I was fascinated with the windows you see in front of the Old Vic. In some way it also felt very peculiar and adorable.

Reminded me of a very elegant dolls house. It looked quite small compared to the other grand theatres in the West End. It's like a magnificent box placed in an ordinary place in London and it stands out with its grand lights and design.

These were the many reasons why I loved The Old Vic. It does have a warm, gorgeous interior. The oval shaped auditorium was an incredible capture in my eyes.

I love the format of the stage and the seating area. The cafe/drinking space is a glorious addition to the theatre. I've never seen a theatre so crammed in ages. The amount of people visiting that night was immense.

Immerse yourself in The Old Vic.


Love MD.

I saw Ralph Fiennes in The Master Builder at the Old Vic earlier this year - brilliant play at a brilliant theatre. Great seats, sound and service.


There's something about the Old Vic to me that no other theatre in London can compete with. Perhaps its the way that the building seemingly stands alone in the busy hub of Waterloo, looking almost like part of a film set as people pool onto the road outside of it. 

Perhaps its the fact that the first play I ever saw in London was at the Old Vic - a Kevin Spacey production of the Philadelphia Story and I fell in love with the magic that is the London theatre scene. Or perhaps it's because it's always pushing the boundaries of what is shown and i've never seen a production that wasn't at least interesting, if not always my cup of tea (sorry No's Knife - i'm a cretin and I just didn't get it. But I was intrigued!)

Whatever the reason its a beautiful theatre and well worth a visit. The bar downstairs has plenty to offer in the way of food and drink or there are lots of restaurants in walking distance for a pre theatre snack. 

Consistently good - its a must visit!

The old vic has been running consistently good theatre for the last 10 years. I will miss Kevin Spacey as artistic director greatly, but am looking forward to seeing more of what Matthew Warchus has to offer - so far so good I say!


Seated at the side of the Dress Circle with a partial view did not take anything away from the performance by Ralph Fiennes in The Master Builder. Beautifully classic theatre, and seating that is comfortable enough to breeze through the show with its 2hr 45mins runtime.


I felt compelled to write a review of this gorgeous old (in name, but not in style) theatre as I recently went to see a production of The Lorax which was superb.  From hanging at the bar (eating free truffula seeds (skittles) to the decor and comedic acting everything was on point.  Great view of the stage from the side cheap seating and looking around I would have no hesitation in booking restricted view seats to avoid missing out on amazing theatre on a budget!

Can't wait to re-visit as an aspiring theatre buff

Wonderful theatre, which with Kevin Spacey at the helm has continued to bring consistently high quality plays. Almost impossible to get a bad seat, even day seats offer a fantastic view. Highly recommend catching a show here, whether you call London home for many years or just a few days.


Gorgeous old theatre that's seen a recent front of house modern refurb. They are particularly nimble with their stage design, re-arranging the audience between most productions. Highlights from the past few years include Hedda Gabler, Future Conditional and Electra and I'm gutted I never got to see Spacey tread the floors over his time there. Worth a visit if you're a tourist and becoming a regular if you're a local.

moderatorStaff WriterTastemaker

Great theatre with some excellent productions in recent years. We particularly enjoyed seeing Richard Armitage in The Crucible.

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