Some places just have that certain something. The French have a phrase for it: ‘zat certain sumsing!’ Quirky spots you stumble upon and tell stories about. Lesser known marvels like bonkers bars, rickety restaurants or curious museums where the curator’s cats run wild. It’s not about price or prestige, no, no. It’s all charm and character. Places with personality. That’s a GLP, my friend. Come in and explore, then go out and explore.
So it’s about time for some lesser-known marvels to take centre-stage. Waiting in the wings, here are 19 thespian haunts to wax lyrical about... and if we've missed any of your favourites, stick them in the comments.
Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9LX
Okay. Okay. Technically the West End we admit. Not ideal to fall at the first hurdle. But we had to make an exception for the Donmar. There's more drama going on here than in Jedward's dressing room. Never so fine an hour as when Chiwetel Ejiofor donned Othello's dancing shoes.
Thanks for the tip off: Sue Bell.
Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, Brondesbury, NW6 7JR
The quaint little Tricycle doubles up as a cinema as well. Facebook fan Denise also recommends ‘Small and Beautiful’ restaurant next door. Just the ticket.
Don't call it a comeback. The Bush Theatre moved from the pub to the Shepherd's Bush library up the road and hasn't looked back since. Revamped and reloaded, new playwrights still love sprouting up in its fertile soil.
Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, Chelsea, SW10 9ED
If there are two things we love at GLP towers, it's wine and theatre. Here you'll find both free flowing in abundance for The Finborough Theatre shares its bed with the Finborough wine café.
Thanks for the tip off: Rupert N H Munday.
Pentameters Theatre, 28 Heath Street, Hampstead, NW3 6TE
The pub/theatre love affair continues in the shape of the Pentameters Theatre, nestled above The Horseshoe public house in the glorious heart of Hampstead village. This intimate 60 seater is slightly rough around the edges but, as ever, that's half the charm.
Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, King St, Hammersmith, W6 0QL
We're not great at maths at GLP HQ but there's one sum we can do: divinely beautiful theatre + idyllic rooftop garden = great little place.
Puppet Barge, The Puppet Theatre Barge, opposite 35 Blomfield Road, Maida Vale, W9 2PF
All aboard the floating theatre. Now that's not something you get to say in every review. Anchored at lovely Little Venice. 55 seats. Puppets. Kids' classics galore. Like JC, this intimate theatre walks on water and is just as miraculous.
Theatre Royal, Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, Stratford, E15 1BN
This is one of the more grandiose theatres on our list, dating back to 1884. Known for its musicals and comedy as well as its new theatre productions.
Thanks for the tip off: Nina McMillan.
The Space, 269 Westferry Road, E14 3RS
This converted church is an excellent adaptation. More than just a theatre, it's a self-described 'performing arts' centre, where you can watch plays but also attend workshops and do all things artistic. And, as if that wasn't enough, it nestles up to the delightful Hubbub cafe bar next door.
Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, E8 3DL
Theatre is like film in real time. And there is no better place to witness it than at the Arcola Theatre. One of the most (if not 'the' most) well-respected small theatres in London. Now there's an accolade to write home about.
Thanks for the tip off: Nici Virley and Stephen Campbell.
King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1QN
This intimate space has previously been everything from a boxing ring to a pool hall and, judging by its quirky interior covered with photos, many a famous face has graced its stage. Read more...
Thanks for the tip off: Annette-superninja Teaispointlessbutcoffeeisgreat KenobiBowie Davis (Annette your parents took some real liberties naming you).
Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, Islington, N1 1TA
One of the better known theatres amongst the North London theatrical Massif. The Almeida is a handsome old bird, rejuvenated with a facelift back in 2003; 19th Century grandeur meets 21st Century chic.
Thanks for the tip off: Margarida Naves.
Jacksons Lane, 269a Archway Road, Highgate, N6 5AA
Jacksons Lane is a multi-arts venue based in Highgate, right across the road from the underground. Its artistic programme is grounded in innovation showing everything from contemporary circus to physical theatre, cabaret and dance, with the occasional high profile comedian gracing the stage. Every summer, the venue plays host to Postcards – a festival of circus, cabaret and extraordinary performance. Featuring the likes of Mooky, Marawa the Amazing and Briony Kimmings, it’s fast becoming a key event on the London arts calendar and the venue of choice for those in the know.
Thanks for the tip off: Ade Berry.
Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, Off Cross Street, Islington, N1 2DN
This little pocket rocket is one for the littl'ns. The master puppeteers here know how to pull the audience's strings. And unlike other marionette shows, theirs won't leave you wanting to Punch Judy in the face.
Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Southwark, SE1 8LZ
The Young Vic needs little introduction. It's the younger, edgier, more hipster offshoot of the much celebrated and never overrated Old Vic, a stone's throw away. Always good to support young actors as well. Even if you fancy just a drink in a lively bar after work, you can do much worse than the Young Vic. Comes in to its own in the summer months on the outside terrace.
The Union, 204 Union Street, Southwark, SE1 0LX
This fringe stalwart has a delightful cafe attached to it. Easily missable, you won't regret stumbling across this underground den of theatrical endeavour.
Thanks for the tip off: Alastair Brookshaw and David Westerby.
Polka Theatre, 240 The Broadway, Wimbledon, SW19 1SB
Another one for the hobbit folk. Luckily their cheery and colourful productions are far from diminutive. From storytelling sessions to in-house productions, there's more happening here than on Sesame Street. Plus there's a playground. Jackpot. And a cosy cafe. Rollover Jackpot.
Theatre 503, at The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road, SW11 3BW
There's nothing peripheral about this fringe theatre above The Latchmere pub in Battersea. It's small but, like Chuck Norris, often packs a big theatrical punch. Infamous for pushing provocative and fearless new writing, much again, like Chuck Norris.
Thanks for the tip off: Nina Coglin and Vanessa Wilkins.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, Brockley, SE4 2DH
With only 50 seats, this place puts the 'little' in great little place. It's a chameleon of a performance space so don't expect simply theatre. There's film, comedy, cabaret, writer workshops and much much more.
Thanks for the tip off: Chas Early and Gareth Thesaurus Ellis.
I'm afraid that's our curtain call folks. But before we take a bow, pray tell, which is your favourite little theatre? Drop us a comment below.
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