Location: 103 The Cut
Currently Showing: Sea Wall
Access: Waterloo, exit 2 marked Waterloo Road
Stage Door: out of the main entrance and turn right
The Old Vic was opened in 1818 by former managers of the Surrey Theatre, James Kay and David Dunn, and John Thomas Serres as the Royal Coburg Theatre. As a minor theatre, not a patent theatre, is was not allowed to put on serious dramas.
In 1824, George Bolwell Davidge took over the theatre. He put on a run of six Shakespeare plays over six nights starring Edmund Kean. Davidge left in 1833. The theatre was bought by Daniel Egerton and William Abbot who aimed to exploit the abolition of the legal difference between patent and minor theatres. They renamed the theatre from 1st July of the same year the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1833 but two years later, it was advertised as the Victoria Theatre.
David Osbaldiston took over the lease in 1841 and was succeeded upon his death by his lover and first lady of the theatre, Eliza Vincent until her death in 1856. Eleven years later, Joseph Arnold Cave took over the theatre but transferred the lease to Romaine Delatorre who raised funds to rebuild the theatre in the style of the Alhambra Music Hall. In December 1871, the theatre was reopened as the Royal Victoria Palace.
In 1880, under Emma Cons’ management, it became the Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern. After her death in 1912, Cons’ niece, Lilian Baylis took over, who focused on Shakespeare productions.
The theatre was badly damaged by the Blitz and didn’t reopen until 1950. Some of the theatre’s notable productions were Hamlet (starring Derek Jacobi), Antony and Cleopatra (with Alec McGowen), The Government Inspector (featuring Ian Richardson), Macbeth (starring Peter O’Toole) and The Merchant of Venice.
The theatre was restored in 1985 by Ed Mirvish. It enjoyed a series of successful productions including Candide which won an Olivier Award. However, it suffered three years of losses which led to Jonathan Miller being fired from the role of artistic director. In 1997, Sir Peter Hall was appointed to replace Miller and the theatre again enjoyed a series of acclaimed productions, including The Master Builder. However, the losses continued and the theatre was put up for sale. It was bought by a charitable trust, the Old Vic Theatre Company, in 1998.
The Old Vic Theatre sits on the corner of Waterloo Road and The Cut. It is conveniently located within a one minute’s walk of Waterloo station. The Old Vic is quite a small venue. There are two bars: is the downstairs bar is quite big but there are not many seats and little space to stand without blocking walkways; the upstairs is more spacious and has a nice view. The main foyer, has the box office and sells merchandise and soft drinks.
The seating is fully allocated and the views from most seats are excellent. The more central seats provide a better view but the ends of row are just as good.
Our favourite restaurants nearby are:
- Olivelli – The Cut, Italian, wide ranging menu
- The Fire Station – Waterloo Road
- Azzuro – Waterloo Station York Road, Italian, pizza, outside seating
- Oxo Tower Restaruant, Bar and Brasserie – Barge House Street, British, expensive
Reviews from the Old Vic
The Lorax – ★★★★ “…an excellent show to see over the festive season because it’s so magical and full of hope.” Read more >>>