Time Out says
This edgy Waterloo theatre has a formidable artistic reputation
The Young Vic more than lives up to its name, with its slick modern exterior, buzzing bar, and a forward-looking line-up that makes it feel metaphorically as well as literally miles away from London's fustier West End houses. Under current boss Kwame Kwei-Armah, who cut his teeth on the New York theatre scene, it's thriving, with a renewed focus on connecting with the Southwark community that surrounds it, and on championing works by people of colour.
Kwei-Armah is building on the legacy of the theatre's longtime artistic director David Lan, who stepped down in 2018 after 18 years in the job. During that time, he oversaw a major renovation which created the current box office area from an old butcher's shop (you can still see traces of the original tiles), spruced up the theatre's fully flexible 420-seater auditorium, and added two smaller studio spaces, the Maria and the Clare. And he presided over an eclectic programme with a striking international focus.
The Young Vic's popular Cut bar and restaurant is perma-busy with crowds drawn by its bright, airy set-up and central location. But it's just the most public-facing part of the theatre's many efforts to get people through its doors. The Taking Part team puts on parallel productions devised by local residents, building on a community focus that's been present from the theatre's earliest days. It started life as a youth-focused offshoot of the National Theatre in 1969, then housed in the Old Vic down the road, and its current breeze-block building was hastily thrown up in 1970. It was only designed to last for five years, but after a full-on refurb and with an impressive artistic legacy to hold onto, it looks all set to last for another half century.
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