The play's the thing on London's small stages

Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:13am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Barbara Lewis

LONDON (Reuters) - If you're scouring London for impressive theater to suit a budget reduced by the recession, chances are it's just around the corner.

Emerging theatrical talent and some internationally recognized names are treading the boards at scores of tiny, independent theatres in pubs, under railway arches and in old warehouses across the British capital.

Directors say that using make-shift venues so small audiences could reach out and touch the actors allows the kind of experimentation that would be virtually impossible for the big budget productions of London's glitzy West End theatres.

"Smaller stages and smaller budgets allow the creatives and the producers to tackle unorthodox works without the commercial pressure of crowd-pleasing and recouping the original investment," one up-and-coming director Michael Gieleta said of London's independent theater scene.

"That's why the so-called fringe is such a vibrant, creatively exuberant destination."

Many audience members at these smaller productions are friends of the cast, who can be found at the bar after the show, debating the night's performance and buying drinks at prices usually below those in West End.

Pub theater tickets are even more of a bargain, averaging around 15 pounds ($24.48) each. Regular and hugely popular pay-what-you-can nights mean it often costs even less for an evening on London's fringe.

That compares with about 33 pounds a ticket for a Friday night balcony seat at top-selling West End musical "Oliver."   Continued...