Orange Tree Theatre
Time Out says
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Formerly London's chintziest theatre, the Orange Tree is now one of its hippest
Starting life as a lunchtime pub venue in Richmond in 1971, the Orange Tree Theatre graduated to a bigger, 170-seat space across the road in the early ’90s, with a permanently in-the-round set up. The building's labyrinthine interior now sprawls across a Victorian gothic former primary school, and a monolithic, appropriately tangerine-hued extension. Founder Sam Waters, who ran the theatre for 42 years, deserves an enormous amount of credit, and in its day the theatre gave a leg-up to everyone from Martin Crimp to Sean Holmes.
However, the later days of Waters's reign saw the Orange Tree become rather moribund, with a programme based upon revivals of obscure period dramas that played well with the loyal, elderly audience but seriously lacked diversity, and probably played a large amount in the Arts Council scrapping all funding to the theatre.
Since then, his successor Paul Miller has completely turned the theatre around, with a programme that still makes the odd nod to the period works of the past (Miller himself specialises in directing taut Bernard Shaw revivals) but combines it with a formidable commitment to new writing and reaching out to younger and more diverse audiences. Alistair McDowell's mad dystopian thriller 'Pomona' scored acres of acclaim and tranferred to the National Theatre, sealing the theatre's resurrection.
The Orange Tree Theatre has also come up with new ways of bringing home the bacon, relying on donations, memberships and sponsorships from its West London community. Its success is shown in a perpetually heaving foyer, full of wine-toting theatregoers who spill out onto the Richmond streets outside.
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