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  • South Bank
    London SE1 9PX
    South Bank, Southwark
  • Transit information Bakerloo Circle District Jubilee Northern Waterloo & City Get Directions
  • Phone number 020 7452 3000
  • Business website nationaltheatre.org.uk
  • 5.0 star rating
    14/4/2014
    1 check-in here

    This review is for the tour of the National Theatre.

    The backstage tour of the National Theatre was a wonderful experience.  Our tour guide showed us the 3 smaller theaters WITHIN the National Theatre, explaining the advantages of each.  One catered to a much more smaller, intimate audience while the Olivier theater was definitely for the headlining shows.  We also go to go backstage to see all the craziness and inner workings that are involved with putting on a production.  There was also an area where they replicate the stage and scenes for rehearsals, all the mish mash of props from various shows, and we were even able to go on stage in one of the theaters.  Truly an engaging tour!  

    If you are a theatre buff or like to see the technical aspects of shows, this is an absolute must!

  • 5.0 star rating
    4/8/2010

    I can't praise the National quite high enough. I have seen so many good plays here, and also a couple bad of course - but that's the point of an establishment like this.

    If you're canny, the tickets are cheap and readily available. Embrace the £10 Travelex tickets - a fantastic idea if ever I saw one.

    The Olivier is stunningly impressive, with a moving stage and huge capacity for set changes. The Lyttleton is more of the "traditional" theatre, stalls and a circle - not that that detracts from the fact that one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen, The White Guard, blew me away in there. Finally, the Cottesloe has an unusual set-up, with some side facing seats, but again, this somehow works.

    Please try this place out if you haven't already - it really is a cut above the rest.

    • Qype User BushGi…
    • London
    • 197 friends
    • 389 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    25/3/2008

    I can't believe no one has reviewed the National!

    A stalwart of British Theatre since it's inception in the 60's/70's and production house of many great shows over the last few decades.

    This is the National Theatre, where all that is good in British Theatre should end up at or come from.

    There are three seperate auditoria in the building, The Olivier (the largest, for the big time shows) , The Lyttleton (smaller, but still nearly 1000 capacity) and Cottesloe Theatre - an adaptable studio space for more experimental or developmental work.

    By all accounts it's an ugly building from the outside by day, by night it's lit in various colours making it less of an eyesore on the lovely Southbank. Inside, it's almost labyrinthian, with bars, cafes and the multiplicitous theatres snaking off in different directions.

    Since 2003 Travelex sponsorship has allowed many NT tickets to be sold for £10, which is really terrific value for this type of stuff.

    Recent highlights have included, Complicite's Measure for Measure, Jerry Springer the Opera, The History Boys and His Dark Materials.

    There are so many shows produced by the NT across the whole range - new writing, old classics, reworkings, star casts, star writers, new talent. It's a place teeming with theatrical activity.

    Another good spot for coffee and people watching on the Southbank, there are often free outdoors performances on the terrace in the Summer.

    Essential for any theatre lover.

    • Qype User amethy…
    • London
    • 187 friends
    • 402 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    25/3/2008

    True, it seems extraordinary that no-one has reviewed the National here, before now (although I think specific productions have featured) still we are putting that to rights!

    BushGirl has explained comprehensively why the National is such a treasure, and a must-visit, so I'll just add a few personal highlights

    I have seen two of the best productions ever, here: The Rose Tattoo (Tennessee Williams, with Zoë Wanamaker, in 2007) and The Sea with Judi Dench, several years ago - both for a bargain ticket price and long to remain in my memory.

    The Cottesloe - the most informal and smallest space - is often set-up in the round, and especially audience-friendly. The Travelex and last-minute ticket offerings make good theatre accessible to all, so long as there are still tickets available for your chosen performance

    Don't miss the National Theatre, it's one of London's star-turns!

    • Qype User filcha…
    • Copenhagen, Denmark
    • 305 friends
    • 829 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    21/7/2008

    I know nothing about theatre. But I really enjoyed coming here. A great example of how some decent lighting can make even the worst looking building look, well, quite interesting. It's certainly distinctive.

    I remember not being able to buy bitter in the interval, but perhaps one should be drinking wine under these circumstances.

    You get very, very close to the actors. So have to be quiet. And you can always pretend you're watching Heat if you get bored

  • 5.0 star rating
    17/9/2008
    First to Review

    Even though I visit the Southbank quite regularly, I haven't actually been to the National for quite a while.
    I went to a preview performance of in-i with Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan at the Lyttleton last night. It was just fantastic (if you can still get your hands on a ticket - book now!!).
    The concrete jungle of the Southbank architecture provides the perfect backdrop for all things creative.
    Modern pieces which rely on minimalist stage sets and the audience's imagination particularly benefit from the lack of distraction.
    Yesterday's stage design consisted of a square wall and two chairs only, but ever-changing atmospheres were created with the clever use of light. I felt completely immersed in the story.
    Comfortable chairs and good views from whereever you are make this the perfect theatre.

  • 4.0 star rating
    7/6/2010

    A brilliant theatre, especially when it comes to attracting young people - it doesn't just put on plays but also supports loads of projects for schools and students, including open days, tours and workshops. It's an organisation that really lets people get involved.

    All three theatres in the complex have their own type of space and layout, and the productions have these in mind. There are alos great last minute ticket offers, for students and non-students alike!

    • Qype User antiso…
    • London
    • 41 friends
    • 159 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    24/2/2011

    The National Theatre is a London landmark worth visiting. There is always something going on here whether it's a live band in the foyer or the matinee of the latest RSC production I recommend you visit this place.

    There are a number of different theatres in the one building (4 in total I think) and usually the best productions take place in the Olivier or the Lyttleton.

    The tickets are really reasonable prices (compared to those of theatres in the West End) and if you are under 26 you can apply for a membership card which means all tickets are only a fiver!

    • Qype User absint…
    • London
    • 81 friends
    • 264 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    27/5/2011

    I visit the National regularly and have never been disappointed by any production here. Absolutely at the forefront of British theatre, the NT champions new work as well as old masterpieces, which keeps the range fresh at all times.

    While the Lyttelton and Olivier are spectacular performance spaces (and having seen the epic two-part staging of His Dark Materials I really feel that I have seen the revolve stage put to its best use), I personally love the more intimate Cottesloe most of all, and have seen some some excellent new material here.

    From farcical comedy to Greek tragedy, it's all happening in this iconic building - and you can get a really decent meal, too: check out the top level restaurant for really good pre-theatre mezze platters at a decent price, or if you want to go up-market, the Mezzanine restaurant is a brilliant dining experience and is one of my favourite in London - you don't have to be seeing a play to eat here, and it's well worth the trip.

  • 5.0 star rating
    13/6/2012

    I love this theatre; although enormous,it
    feels intimate. I especially like the Olivier.
    Grade 11 Listed Denis Lasdun building &
    it still looks modern!
    And now I can afford tickets with the new Travelex system :
    great at £10 & £12. Best theatre in town
    And outside on the approach they have a lawn for open air
    concerts : fabulous idea while you wait for your performance
    Just been to see The Curious Incident at the Cottesloe -
    best play in years  a fantastic production

    • Qype User EllieC…
    • London
    • 58 friends
    • 117 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    26/9/2008

    As has been mentioned in previous reviews, this is a seriously ugly building from the outside. However they have done a good job making the inside a really nice place to be.
    Unsuprisingly I love the bookshopIts brilliant for plays, biographies and other drama related text books, and I can happily while away hours in there.
    The bars are all done differently, but are all nice, and they have entertainment and music in the evening in the main foyer.
    In the summer the outdoor theare has a great mixture of shows that are free and often great fun.
    Even if your not much of a theatre goer, the christmas shows at the National are always brilliant, and pitched well to be great for whole families from grandparents down to toddlers.

    • Qype User davepe…
    • London
    • 14 friends
    • 248 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    26/4/2008

    This lump of concrete on the south bank produces endless amounts of world-class theatre. With three theatres inside the building, producing 18 plus shows a year, and at ten pounds a ticket for many shows, it's cheaper and better than most london cinemas. It should be made part of law that people should visit the National.

    If you've never been, go. If you do go, go more. And if you see everything there, then you're probably a critic.

    • Qype User Nunhea…
    • London
    • 213 friends
    • 183 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    24/1/2011

    A classic of "Brutalist" architecture on the Southbank, designed by Denys Lasdun, this is a stunning Grade II listed building and a wonderful place to watch both modern and contemporary theatre. Famously loathed by our very own architectural guru Prince Charles; this in itself makes it worthy of a visit, if only to make your own mind up.

    Others have given a good run down on the three separate auditoria, which have housed some of the most notable productions in the UK over the past four decades. So I thought I'd mention some of the other great stuff the "National" has to offer the Londoner, or the out of towner, in search of a little bit of this great city on the cheap.

    Don't feel that you need to have booked a ticket to see one of the many fine productions which are "on" at the National to put this on your itinerary for a day out South of the river. The foyers, terraces and bars/restaurants are all open free to the general public and you could do much worse than spend an afternoon chilling with the National.

    This Saturday I dropped in to check out some extremely fine Cuban music in the foyer provided by the Sugar Kings, a great trio from Havana. They played an absolutely storming set and it was just perfect to be able to grab a cold Corona from the bar and then get a seat not more than a few feet from the stage. Until the summer, when the schedule slows down and you get more stuff outside, you will find music by some top notch artists pretty much every day of the week before the theatre performances and the lunchtime sessions at the weekend are always worth checking out.

    After the Sugar Kings set I wandered upstairs to check out the free exhibition of Allen Ginsberg photographs: "Angelheaded Hipsters". Most of these pictures will probably already be pretty familiar to you if you are a fan of the Beats but it's a well-staged exhibition and I spent a very enjoyable hour wandering about. If you are interested in modern American literature and the "lions" from the 40's, 50's and 60's you will find this fascinating.

    Another great thing about the National are the "platforms"; a series of events associated with the plays or exhibitions. These are reasonably priced lectures or happenings led by experts in the field which are run to coincide with, and complement, what's going on at the theatre. There is a "Discovering the Beat Movement" event on 19 February for a fiver which will see Barry Miles and the poet Michael Horovitz amongst others talking the stage to give you their insight into Kerouac et al - to my mind a bit of a bit of a bargain.

    On your way out make sure you hang onto your wallet and check out the very well-stocked bookshop. Lots of interesting, and often hard to find, stuff and I rarely leave without a package being tucked into the man bag - I like to persuade myself that having had a free afternoon's entertainment this represents a good way of putting some money back into the theatre.

    So anyway; the National Theatre, the Southbank and Brutalist architecture - I salute and thank you.

    • Qype User Afonel…
    • London
    • 15 friends
    • 56 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    10/5/2011

    Every so often, my mum emails me to tell me she's coming to London and has booked theatre tickets. And every so often those tickets are for a show at the Royal National Theatre. And whenever that's the case, I know I'm in for a treat.

    I think I've seen two of the theatre spaces here, and they're wonderfully diverse - a big traditional theatre and a small black box space. The plays are just the same; diverse and always interesting. I don't think they've ever disappointed.

    • Qype User jo1320…
    • Ilkeston, Derbyshire
    • 5 friends
    • 80 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    18/4/2009

    Great Theatre with some fantastic additional extras such as platform talks, backstage tours and other events.

    It also houses one of the best Theatrical bookshops I have ever seen, so many choices, but quite expensive, ideal for any theatre students though!

    Love bistro cafe with outside seats and reasonable prices!

  • 4.0 star rating
    21/1/2012

    Great theatre that puts on lots of different shows (I really wanna see Comedy of Errors!). Great place to relax as there's sometimes musicians, and has a nice cafe and bar. There is currently a free exhibition going on for Landscape Photographer of the Year, and it is actually breathtaking! I highly recommend it.

    • Qype User woodyr…
    • London
    • 74 friends
    • 84 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    15/11/2008

    Although it can be hard to snare tickets for popular shows, the production value is of such a standard that it makes queuing for up to an hour for returns and stand-by worth it just to get a seat. They are commited to widening participation and a popular scheme of theirs is the Travelex £10 tickets.

    They also run the National Theatre 'New Connections' programme, an initiative created to give young people the opportunity to perform in plays written by leading playwrights commissioned by the NT.

    • Qype User jennya…
    • London
    • 8 friends
    • 51 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    30/11/2008

    Fantastic theatre. It's obviously got a great location, on the South Bank - perfect for a pre-theatre walk along the river. They've always got an interesting selection of plays on. The theatre staff are a nice bunch too: I was there last week and some lady refused to get out of our seat. But the staff were very lovely and helpful, giving us tickets for another night. My tip would be to go sign up for the Travelex £10 ticket alert, then you can book bargain seats as soon as they come out. Previews also tend to be half price, so get in early.

    • Qype User Agathe…
    • London
    • 167 friends
    • 49 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    3/9/2010

    The best theatre place in London

    • Qype User pinkys…
    • Leeds, West Yorkshire
    • 50 friends
    • 684 reviews
    2.0 star rating
    2/5/2011

    I have no doubt that watching a performance at the National Theatre is an awesome experience. Unfortunately, because of the appalling attitude of the guy we spoke to at the Box Office, we didn't get that far. Unbelievably rude, giving inconsistent and incorrect information, and so blasé that we had to leave and not come back, I'll make sure I book my tickets online in future.

  • 4.0 star rating
    18/11/2008

    Went to see the Pitman Painters here and just loved the show. The script was well written, with the characters being appropriately complex without becoming unrealistic. There's quite a bit of humour in it, despite the often dark themes that it addressed. I'd recommend seeing it if you get the chance (we got lucky waiting for returns) I have to admit, though, I think that the National Theatre is kind of unfortunate in terms of its architecture (concrete is not becoming for any building, I'm sorry).

    • Qype User Rutche…
    • Bristol
    • 24 friends
    • 253 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    27/10/2011

    If you have been thinking you'd like to go to the theatre more often. Do it and come here! I had the good fortune to get tickets here often a few years back and it was always brilliant. This is a British institution we can be really proud of. I used to work in theatres in the West End, but forget them. Go here! ;D

    • Qype User humano…
    • London
    • 3 friends
    • 58 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    16/12/2011

    Brilliant shows are always held at this institution. I would say my favourite theatre would be the Olivier with its rotating stage, there are no bad views in here. Before the show, do take the time to have a gander at the views across the Thames on the balcony, it is definitely a treat.

    • Qype User ed_gq…
    • London
    • 2 friends
    • 52 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    15/11/2008

    Theatre can very often be boring and uninspiring but not here. I've seen many plays here and all of them were good. Some were amazing. They do a lot of deals on tickets so do some research. Great restaurant and cafe on the upper floors and a great place to have a drink. Excellent views over the river.

    • Qype User Lulu_r…
    • Frankfurt, Germany
    • 8 friends
    • 62 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    10/5/2011

    I've been coming to the National Theatre since before the Southbank got so cool and comfortable, queueing up for day seats when Trevor Nunn was still in charge. The era of Nick Hytner has fought the good fight of making the theatre ever more accessible with cheap ticket schemes and outreach work to new audiences. The theatre manages to appeal to theatre buffs and newcomers alike with a varied and interesting programme. Sign up to the regular email bulletins and take your pick.

    • Qype User jklond…
    • London
    • 2 friends
    • 55 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    16/11/2008

    Excellent venue, when in London, should go and see a play. Good visibility of stage from all seating areas makes it special. There is lenty of interesting though provocative plays to choose from.

    • Qype User laydee…
    • London
    • 1 friend
    • 31 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    20/11/2008

    The National Theatre has some really fantastic plays on sometimes, with the finest quality acting and direction. The last play I saw was 'In-I' which was a piece of dance theatre. It was mostly enjoyable and it was very interesting to see Juliet Binoche dancing as that was not something that she originally trained to do. Sometimes I felt that the routines went on a little too long and did not really have a point to them. I wasn't disappointed as I had got a student standby ticket for £10. I would not have wanted to pay the full price though.

    • Qype User Ipeeda…
    • Leicester
    • 0 friends
    • 1 review
    1.0 star rating
    16/7/2010

    If I was taking a good friend out for a theatre experience I would take them somewhere else, a little bit more comfortable and appealing. I recently visited to see an Alan Bennet play at the National and I was struck by the simplicity of the seating...dull facilities and all the seats directly behind each other which was a bit of a pain when a tall blokey is sittiing right in front of you. Surely, the whole new designing in this country is going backwards if this is an example. Unfortunately, we had also experienced 're-heated' food in the Littleton Restaurant served at £22 per head for two courses and the overall experience was pretty disappointing.

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