The Arts Theatre is a small theatre in the heart of London’s West End scene that is well-known for showcasing unconventional and alternative productions. Located in Westminster, the Arts Theatre opened in 1927 as a members-only private club. It was set up like this in order to put up unlicensed and experimental plays and to avoid censorship by the Lord Chamberlain’s office. As a result of this, the theatre was able to put on plays that were otherwise banned from performing in the West End theatres.
The theatre opened with a revue called ‘Picnic’, but the first notable production that took place here was ‘Young Woodley’ by John Van Druten, which subsequently transferred to the Savoy Theatre. The Arts Theatre’s claim to fame came once Alec Clunes took over its ownership in 1942. He produced over a hundred successful plays here and raised the status of the theatre to that of a ‘pocket national theatre’. Some of the most commercially successful plays that have taken the stage here include ‘Closer to Heaven’, ‘The Vagine Monologues’, ‘Waiting for Godot’, ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’, ‘Murder Ballad’ and many others. Currently, the theatre plays host to Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. .
Address: 6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB, UK
Seating Capacity: 350
Stalls : 220
Check out the Arts Theatre Seating Plan here.
Now Playing at Arts Theatre London
A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow
This production really needs no introduction. Written by the great Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’ is one of the most well-known and celebrated stories in English Literature. And given this fact, it is only fitting that this story is brought to life during the Yuletide season of Christmas, by Simon Callow, one of the greats of English Theatre. Simon Callow, a renowned author, actor and musician is no stranger to Charles Dickens’ works, having previously performed ‘The Mystery of Charles Dickens’ on both Broadway and West End, and the equally renowned ‘Dr Marigold & Mr. Chops’.
However, this performance of Callow, along with director-designer Tom Cairns is said to be his best yet as it is reminiscent of the time when Charles Dickens himself performed ‘A Christmas Carol’ across UK and America! Telling a heart-warming story filled with festivity, joy, loneliness, and companionship, ‘A Christmas Carol’ is truly a spectacle to behold. The show is currently on at the Arts Theatre till the 12th of January, 2019. Just to give you a bit of insight and advice - this show has been completely sold out during its previous runs (in 2012, 2013 and 2016), so it will do you well to plan in advance and book your tickets as soon as you can!
Much like the original novella, the story centres around a stingy and miserly businessman, Ebenezer Scrooge. Known all over London for his parsimonious nature, Ebenezer often overworks and underpays his unfortunate clerk, Bob Cratchit, who with his handicapped son, is in an unfortunate and financially tight position. The old businessman is so uptight that he even refuses a dinner invitation from Fred, his dead sister's son! Something's got to give, and on the night of Christmas Eve, it does.
Scrooge is awakened from his slumber by a horrifying nightmare in which he is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, his business partner who passed away seven years ago. Marley’s spirit roams the earth unhappy and dissatisfied, a consequence of a lifetime of greed and selfishness. To save himself from the same fate, Scrooge must pay attention to the words of the three spirits that visit him. Full of symbolism and Christian allegories, ‘A Christmas Carol’ is an intensely dramatic and acutely eye-opening story that teaches all of us to value what is actually important in this life.
Simon Callow as Ebenezer Scrooge
Wed - Sun: 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM
Stalls - This section can be reached by taking 19 steps down from the main foyer. There are handrails placed on either side of the staircase. If you are looking for seats with extra legroom, please book any of the following - A1, A14, B1, B16-17, C18, and BB1-2.
Royal Circle: This section can be accessed via 5 steps up from the main foyer. Like the Stalls, there are handrails placed on either side of the staircase for your assistance. This section can also be reached via a sloped corridor that leads to the rear of the seating. There is 1 wheelchair seat located in Row F.
Food and Drinks: Food and drinks in plastic containers are permitted inside the theatre. If you purchase drinks at the bar, they need to be transferred into plastic cups before making your way to the auditorium.
Restroom: There are two bars at the theatre - The Foyer Bar and the Covent Garden Cocktail Club. Both offer a wonderful selection of wines, local and imported beers, spirits and other hot and cold beverages. World-class cocktails are served at the Covent Gardent Cocktail Club which is under the patronage of award-winning bartender JJ Goodman.
Bars: There are male and female toilets located down the stairs, towards the stalls. The access-adapted toilet is located in the Circle section.
- To get the best seats at the best prices, we recommend you book your tickets as quickly as possible. The theatre does have a limited number of seats so the chances of you not finding a great seat are pretty high. And given the track record of this show, it will serve you better to book in advance.
- If you are hungry and in a rush, grab a bite at the theatre itself! The Arts Theatre has its own little tea room that serves tea, cakes, and sandwiches.
- Make sure that you arrive on/before time for the show. Latecomers are obviously not entertained during most West End shows and in case you happen to be late due to unusual circumstances, ensure that you do not cause a ruckus while finding your seats. Forget going through all that trouble and just try your best to be there at least 10-15 minutes before the show starts.
There are several ways to get to Arts Theatre using public transport. Here are a few options:
Tube: The nearest tube stations to the theatre are Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly Lines) and Covent Garden (Piccadilly Line)
By Rail : Charing Cross is the closest National Rail station to the theatre. From Charing Cross, the theater is roughly a 10-minute walk.
Bus: The following buses stop along Charing Cross Road (less than 5 minutes from the theatre) - 14, 19, 24, 38, 176.
Restaurants near Arts Theatre London
1. Bella Italia: A vibrant chain restaurant for delicious Italian pasta, pizzas, and grill dishes, and also boasts a special kid's menu.
2. Spaghetti House: In the mood for some hearty Italian food? Spaghetti house serves up classic Italian dishes that are both scrumptious and pocket-friendly! Pro tip - try their pizza!
3. P. F Chang’s Asian Table: One of the most famous Asian cuisine chain of restaurants across the world, P. F Chang’s is the ideal place to relish authentic Asian fare.
4. Five Guys: Burger, chips, and beer. What more can anyone ask for, really? Five Guys is a chain of fast food restaurants that serves mouthwatering American comfort food. Hungry and in a hurry? Look no further.
More West End Guides
For more West End information, here are some helpful quick links!