Jason Allen 24/04/24

The Polka Theatre

Back when it was founded in 1979, the Polka Theatre was the UK’s first theatre venue dedicated exclusively to children. It was quite a big deal. The Queen came and everything. And although it’s certainly grown up since then, its mission remains steadfastly locked on immature entertainment.

You’ll find it on a stretch of the Wimbledon Broadway right on the fringe of the neighbourhood, where it’s surrounded by coffeeshops and restaurants. It’s recently had a nice big refurb (which, incidentally, they managed to time to perfectly coincide with the Covid lockdown) that’s seen a multi-million pound lick of paint gloss the place, so it looks as handsome as ever.

Polka theatre

Step inside, and you’ll find a place whose very architecture seems to have been designed by someone who actually understands what kids want: a place that’s colourful, interactive, and just the right amount of bonkers. They’ve got a lot going on, from a creative learning studio, to a garden, an outdoor playground, an indoor play area, some exhibition spaces and a cafe. In fact, you could quite easily go there for the day without even seeing a show.

Polka theatre

But the theatre is there, and it’s a beauty. It can squeeze in 300 people, and doesn’t really have a bad seat in the house. Productions have ranged from the classic stuff (Cinderella, Peter Pan, etc) through to modern adaptations that tackle current issues with a clever twist (such as “Climate Warriors” and “The Digital Dilemma”). The unifying theme? Quality.

Now that the idea of a children’s theatre has started to spread to the rest of the nation, Polka are pushing the boundaries further still – they have a 70-seater studio space with productions specifically for early years performances. That’s right, theatre for babies.

It’s an idea still in it infancy.


NOTE: The Polka Theatre is open now, from Tuesday to Sunday. You can find out more, see the schedule, and get tickets at the Polka Theatre website.

The Polka Theatre | 240 The Broadway, SW19 1SB

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The Polka Theatre

240 The Broadway, Wimbledon, South London, SW19 1SB