OFF-TOUR THEATRE SIGHTS
We cover as many sites as possible on the walking tour but there are a few further-out places in London worth checking out!
Here are our top three off-tour theatre sites...
The Calder Bookshop & Theatre
51 The Cut, London SE1 8LF
An excellent independent theatre bookshop located on The Cut, opposite the Young Vic (nearest tube Southwark.) They stock a very good range of playtexts and theatre-related books. You'll also find an extensive selection of second-hand theatre books, including a few rarities. It's a real Aladdin's Cave for theatre history-buffs!
There's a quaint intimate theatre space behind the bookshop too so worth checking their website if you want to see something avant-garde: https://calderbookshop.com/
Other recommended London theatre bookshops: National Theatre, Royal Court & Foyles (Charing Cross Road)
Golden Lion Pub
25 King St, St. James's, London SW1Y 6QY
Tucked round the corner from St James' Square, this pub is the former site of the once great St James' Theatre (1835-1957). Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest both premiered here. Wilde's memory is honoured with a bas-relief outside the pub - his portrait sided by representations of Dorian Gray and Salomé. Another bas-relief honours Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh, who once co-managed the theatre (1950-1954). Leigh's later desperate campaign to save the theatre from demolition in 1957 sadly failed.
Orson Welles also once appeared here, playing the title role in Othello. Welles' memory is honoured with a framed photograph in the stairwell leading to the upstairs Theatre Bar, alongside a plethora of famous faces once associated with the theatre. Definitely a worthy pilgrimage for theatre history-buffs - a nice place to enjoy a pint on the spot where Oscar Wilde's star once peaked.
Bas-relief outside Golden Lion Pub, honouring Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh. 'The Oliviers' are represented in their successful 1951 productions Shakespeare's 'Antony & Cleopatra' and Shaw's 'Caesar & Cleopatra'
Other recommended theatre pubs: The Salisbury Pub (St Martin's Lane) & The Coal Hole (The Strand)
Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL
The V&A's Theatre and Performance Archive is currently the closest thing we have to a theatre museum in London.
With a good display of antique theatre posters, props and costumes - and Joey from War Horse - it houses an excellent array of fascinating theatre artefacts. Highlights include Vivien Leigh's 'Cleopatra' costume, Henry Irving's 'Mephistopheles' costume (Faust) and a reproduction of Kylie Minogue's dressing-room!
You'll also see a run of miniature sets - including Sweeney Todd, Edward Gordon Craig's innovative design for Hamlet and the late-great Peter Brook's celebrated RSC production of Midsummer Night's Dream.