In its storied 190-year history, the building that’s currently the Almedia has been a warehouse for carnival novelties, a hub for the Salvation Army, a gentlemen-only members’ club, and a lecture hall for a scientific & literal institute (with its own small natural history museum).
Let’s hope it’s finally settled on ‘theatre’.
Although technically speaking The Almeida is actually a ‘producing house’, meaning that it strictly creates its own shows, many of which then go on to be performed in traditional theatres (usually in the West End). But that’s all part of the charm – here, you’re guaranteed to see something original on any given night, infused with the creative & boundary pushing sensibility that the place thrives on.
The building itself is appropriately beautiful, given its age. It’s been Grade-II listed, and looks every bit the part, with stately white columns propping up a double-height facade. That’s all in slight contrast to the very novel ideas being bounced around inside, where cutting-edge shows are the order of the day. You’ll see those shows in the 325-seat main auditorium, which seems like a lot, but it somehow comes off as being quite intimate. No matter where you sit, the stage feels close, and the energy from the performers is palpable.
The shows they put on have included some absolute masterpieces, with everything from the classics (like Summer & Smoke by Tennessee Williams); to the Shakespearean (their production of Richard III was legendary); to the contemporary (their play Chimerica swept the Olivier awards); to the experimental (they’ve adapted the Twilight Zone and American Psycho to the stage). They even adapted a show called Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play, that depicted a post-apocalyptic future in which a theatre troupe attempted to perform classic Simpsons episodes from memory, ads and all.
And if you’re in the market for a little pre/post show nourishment, the building is directly opposite a lovely little Italian joint called Radici. The food is simple but good.
They’ll leave the theatre to the professionals.
NOTE: The Almeida Theatre is open now. You can find out more and make a booking at their website right HERE.
The Almeida Theatre | Almeida Street, The Angel, N1 1TA
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