London Fringe Theatres

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The Courtyard Theatre

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The Courtyard Theatre
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Jacksons Lane Theatre
Bush Theatre
The Vaults
Park Theatre
Park Theatre
Bush Theatre
The Playground Theatre


Away from London's famous West End, there are a number of renowned fringe theatres that stage new and exciting works as well as old musical revivals. In fact, many productions stage at these intimate venues soon end up on the big stage. Here outlines the best fringe theatres the city has to offer, ensuring you never miss the best tickets in town.

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Arcola Theatre

Community theatre in a former textile factory.

24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL

Tube: Highbury & Islington Station


This renowned community theatre is at the heart of Hackney and Dalston's flourishing arts scene, and one of the best places in London to see new work. The Arcola Theatre building is a classic contemporary fringe venue, a converted paint manufacturing factory that offers studio spaces, a versatile auditorium and a pop up tent that hosts a variety of shows. Founded in 2000 the theatre has firmly established itself as more than an arts centre, with a diverse range of productions which aim to be socially and politically relevant. Having become so well known for its varied programme, the theatre has staged works by top actors, writers and directors including the likes of William Gaskill, Ariel Dorfman, Jack Shepherd and Bill Bryden. Arcola also runs a multi-cultural community and youth programmes which help young people strive towards their goals in the creative industries.


Bush Theatre

Influential theatre based in the former library in Shepherds Bush, specialising in new writing.

7 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 8LJ

Tube: Shepherd's Bush Market Station (Hammersmith and City Line) , Goldhawk Road Station, Shepherd's Bush Station (Central)


London's essential theatre for new writing has been the first step into the big time for dozens of Britain's best playwrights. Challenging, disturbing and original works are often accepted by the Bush Theatre, and find their way to the West End. Moving from the room above O'Neill's pub in Shepherds Bush Green to the former Shepherd's Bush Library building on Uxbridge Road in 2011, the theatre acquired larger premises as well as a laid back bar/library and cafe (open Monday to Saturday, 8am to 11pm), worth a visit even if you're not here to watch a play. Thankfully, despite the increased space - increasing capacity from 81 to seating for 144 people - the wonderful intimacy of the original venue remains intact, and the move can only help attract new audiences to this exceptional theatre. The theatrical experience and the quality of the acting talent who have been drawn to the Bush Theatre over the years is most impressive, with Alan Rickman, Anthony Sher, Simon Callow and Alison Steadman all putting in performances on the Bush's stage. Artistic Director Josie Rourke (2007-2011) left the Bush Theatre at the end of December 2011, handing over the reins to Madani Younis whose first season began in April 2012.


The Courtyard Theatre

A well-respected theatre that encourages new writing and emerging playwrights.

40 Pitfield Street, Hoxton, London, N1 6EU

Tube: Old Street Station


This well-respected King's Cross fringe theatre - which arrived in Hoxton via Covent Garden - is home to a theatre training company and local music festival, as well as a roster of fantastic small scale productions. They also run the Kings Cross Award for New Writing which encourages and supports emerging playwrights.


Etcetera Theatre

A tiny theatre located above the Oxford Arms pub in the heart of Camden.

265 Camden High Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7BU

Tube: Camden Town Station , Camden Town Station


The Etcetera Theatre, located above the Oxford Arms pub, has played host to fringe festivals, magic shows and quirky productions for over 20 years. The stage area is a black box studio with just 42 seats. Over 1000 productions have been staged at the Etcetera including Nightmare Abbey by Eleanor Zeal, winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First and Scottish Daily Express Newcomer of the Year, and Bondage by David Hines, which toured the UK and Europe and became the Ken Russell film Whore.


Finborough Theatre

This impressive fringe theatre has a challenging programme of new international works.

118 Finborough Road, Fulham, London, SW10 9ED

Tube: West Brompton Station


The Finborough Theatre in Earls Court punches well above its weight, presenting award-winning plays and works by new writers in a small theatre above a pub. Founded in 1980, the Finborough has just 50 seats creating an intimate space for its productions which focus on developing new writing, rediscovering neglected works and presenting the best of the old and new in an eclectic programme. In 2010 artistic director Neil McPherson curated an ambitious festival to mark the theatre's 30th anniversary with 30 new plays from the likes of esteemed playwrights Mike Bartlett, Mark Ravenhill and Laura Wade. The Finborough has also won the Dan Crawford Pub Theatre Award not once but twice - in 2005 and again in 2008 - as well as being named The Most Welcoming Theatre  and the Best Theatre Bar in South West London in the Off West End Awards in 2012.


Jacksons Lane Theatre

There's a regularly changing programme of live performances at this multi-arts centre.

269a Archway Road, London, N6 5AA

Tube: Highgate Station


Housed in a Grade II listed gothic church conversion, this multi-arts, theatre and dance venue in Highgate has a regularly changing programme of live performances including plays, circus and cabaret. With a 166-seat theatre, large scale semi-sprung dance and rehearsal studio and a café/bar, Jacksons Lane is also available for hire and there are regular classes and courses for all age groups from dance and drama to chess and Tai Chi. The Cafe Theadro, open every day from 10am (except Monday), offers homemade dishes, freshly-baked cakes and cookies with Greek dishes a speciality.


Jermyn Street Theatre

A 70-seat theatre located below an Italian restaurant.

16B Jermyn Street, St James's, London, SW1Y 6LT

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station , Leicester Square Station


A sweet little old theatre in the style of a Victorian music hall, the Jermyn Street Theatre is best enjoyed around Christmas when its location opposite Fortnum's brings well-dressed folk from the Home Counties into the marvellous old building to watch Sweeney Todd, Oliver and other period pantos. The rest of the year it is still a great traditional theatre with a reputation for short running, funny shows, and a focus on popular twentieth century theatre. Acknowledging the venue's quality programming, it was named the Fringe Theatre of the Year 2012 in The Stage 100 Awards. 


Landor Pub Theatre

A small theatre housed in a pub, which delivers solid performances of musicals and new plays.

70 Landor Road, Brixton, London, SW9 9PH

Tube: Clapham North Station


You're never more than three rows away from the action at the Landor Theatre where the audience never exceeds 60. Focussed on producing musical theatre productions in an intimate environment, the Landor Theatre, located on the first floor of The Landor Pub in Clapham, is considered one of the top pub theatres in London. What began as the Cage Theatre in 1994 soon became Upstairs At The Landor in 1995 under the management of artistic director Linda Edwards. Since then it has established itself as an excellent pub theatre, with a consistent quality that belies its amateurish backroom setting. Of note are productions of Sondheim's Follies and Assassins as well as City of Angels and I Love You Because, which achieved widespread critical success.


Park Theatre

The £2.2 million Park Theatre is situated two minutes' walk from Finsbury Park tube station and houses a two-tier 200 seat and a 90 seat theatre.

11 Clifton Terrace, London, N4 3JP

Tube: Finsbury Park Station


The £2.2 million Park Theatre is situated two minutes' walk from Finsbury Park tube station and houses a two-tier 200 seat and a 90 seat theatre, an education floor and a cafe and bar with a late license. Set up by husband and wife team Jez and Melli Bond with support from high profile actors including Ian McKellen and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, the state of the art theatre is unique in this part of London. Its focus is on encouraging local arts participation as well as staging theatrical performances to rival the West End. It aims to build an international profile and has already achieved some success in this area by setting up partnerships with established New York theatres. Architect David Hughes, who was involved in the building, described the "drastically remodelled" 1960s office frontage which has been converted into a "contemporary theatre that challenges the traditions of the West End".


The Playground Theatre

A 200 seat Ladbroke Grove theatre housed in a former bus depot.

Unit 8 Latimer Industrial Estate, Latimer Road, London, W10 6RQ

Tube: White City Station


In the Ladbroke Grove area of west London, just a ten-minute walk from Latimer Road tube station, The Playground Theatre is a novel use for an old bus depot. Having won the Samuel Beckett award for innovative theatre, the Playground Theatre has a long history supporting artists working in theatre but this is the first time they've had their own bricks and mortar theatre. Officially open in autumn 2017, the theatre is headed up by Anthony Biggs, previously at Jermyn Street Theatre, who as co-artistic director works with the theatre's founder, actor and producer Peter Tate. Designed by Jonathan Mizzi Studio, the theatre has room for 150 to 200, a flexible stage, full lighting rig, state of the art sound system and two dressing rooms. The theatre also includes a sumptuous front of house area with a box office and a cafe bar serving throughout the day.


The Print Room at the Coronet

Leaving behind a renovated 1950s warehouse The Print Room moved to the Coronet.

103 Notting Hill Gate, Bayswater, London, W11 3LB

Tube: Notting Hill Gate Station


A non-for-profit venue with a performance space especially popular for experimental dance, theatre and music, The Print Room was established by Anda Winters and Lucy Bailey to fulfil their vision to be the 'hidden artistic gem' in the area. The venue had already established itself as a treasured fringe theatre in Notting Hill five years before it moved to the Coronet in 2014. Leaving behind a renovated 1950s warehouse The Print Room moved to the Coronet, a former cinema with a number of rooms that hadn't seen daylight in over 60 years. The Print Room has put on a number of top class productions - including 'Fabrication' by Pier Pablo Pasolini, highly recommended by The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent - and has won two design awards in the Offies (the Off West End Awards) in 2012, the first year it was eligible for the awards.


Rosemary Branch Theatre

There's a frequently changing programme of one-off performances at this independent venue.

2A Shepperton Road, Islington, Islington, London, N1 3DT

Tube: Old Street Station


An independent, privately-owned, art-friendly freehouse situated across the road from the Grand Union Canal on the borders of Hackney, Islington and Shoreditch. It even has its own theatre upstairs with a frequently changing list of shows from one-off cabaret performances to opera troupes and even a dramatisation of the Bible; it's always worth checking their latest listings for what's going on. It has a tradition in live acts and one previous incarnation was as a renowned music hall where Charlie Chaplin may well have put in a performance. If you're lucky you may even spot a real live celebrity here - comedian Paul Whitehouse used the pub for his BBC series 'Happiness'. Regular quiz nights in the pub downstairs provide enough reason to get a group of friends together and pit your wits against your neighbours.


Southwark Playhouse

A small theatre with several excellent productions under its belt.

77-85 Newington Causeway, Bankside, London, SE1 6BD

Tube: Elephant & Castle Station , Borough Station


Closed since Saturday 5th January 2013, Southwark Playhouse re-opens on 15th May in a new location, a huge warehouse in the heart of Southwark, returning to its original London Bridge Station location in 2018. Its temporary home for five years is at 77-85 Newington Causeway, a five minute walk from Borough Tube and Elephant and Castle Tube stations, gives the theatre - one of the best on the London fringe - 2,000 more square feet to play with including a 240-capacity Main House, a 120 seat Studio Space and - for the first time - its own bar and cafe. The theatre was founded in 1993 and has a reputation for presenting an eclectic mix of classics and works from emerging writers. Past performances have included everything from works by Shakespeare and The Canterbury Tales to puppetry and multimedia. Productions standards are high and the theatre has been nominated for the prestigious Peter Brook / Empty Space Award three times. They are also very much involved in the local community, providing a busy programme of education and workshops.


Theatre 503

A custom-built theatre above The Latchmere Pub.

503 Battersea Park Road, London, SW11 3BW

Tube: Clapham Common Station


Originally created by the team behind the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill, the 503 is a well-designed theatre nestled above the busy Latchmere pub on Battersea Park Road. In 1982, the Gate Theatre expanded to include this custom-built studio theatre above The Latchmere Pub, on the south side of Battersea Bridge Road. Changing its name from the Grace Theatre to Theatre503 in 2002, it was relaunched as a home for new writing and hosted plays by the likes of Dennis Kelly, Phil Porter, Duncan Macmillan and Rachael Wagstaff. It went on to win the Peter Brook Empty Space Award, was nominated for a Time Out Live Award in 2006. More recently it pulled off "an extraordinary coup" (The Telegraph) with its production of The Mountaintop by Katori Hall which transferred to the West End where it won the Olivier Award for Best New play. The Broadway version stars Samuel L Jackson and Halle Berry. Regular comedy nights, fundraisers and free performances mix with the ambitious program of new work to make Theatre503 so much more significant than a fringe venue housed above a scruffy pub in Battersea.


The Union Theatre

This quirky fringe venue is situated under the arches of a railway bridge close to the Tate Modern.

229 Union Street, London, SE1 0LR

Tube: Southwark Station


The Union Theatre was set up by actor/producer Sacha Regan in 1998 in an old paper warehouse and with the help of a Prince's Youth Business Trust loan. She was later joined by actor and director Ben De Wynter and stage/production manager Steve Miller who make up the creative team. The theatre is a quirky fringe venue, situated under the arches of a railway bridge and close to the Tate Modern and Jerwood Space art gallery. It also has its own street side cafe - open all day - serving coffees, pastries and Brick Lane bagels.


Royal Vauxhall Tavern

With a busy midweek programme this tavern is the spiritual heart of Vauxhall's gay village.

372 Kennington Lane, Kennington, London, SE11 5HY

Tube: Vauxhall Station


The Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been a gay venue since the Second World War, surviving both oppression and the great mainstreaming of Gay culture that saw it lose its biggest stars (including Lily Savage) to television. It's the spiritual heart of Vauxhall's gay village, and a busy midweek programme packs it out every night for bingo, comedy, music or drag acts. On weekends, queues stretch all the way round the block for Duckie, the drag cabaret collective who've performed their cabaret/comedy/experimental theatre show everywhere from the Barbican to New York. Straights are very welcome, but the more delicate should be aware that there is a lot of audience participation.


The Vaults

The Vaults under Waterloo are an intriguing venue for underground events.

10 Leake Street, South Bank, London, SE1 7NN

Tube: Waterloo Station , Lambeth North Station


The Vaults under Waterloo are an intriguing venue that play host to a number of underground events. Leave time to take in the graffiti covered Leake Street tunnel - one of the best known displays of London's street art leads to the labyrinth of vaulted rooms that is The Vaults. Home to immersive theatre and pop up supper clubs, the subterranean space is home to the annual Vault Festival. One of the biggest fringe festivals in town, it takes up residency in these cavernous spaces from January to March each year.

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