Guys & Dolls - Manuel Harlan
Jason Allen 01/05/23
The Bridge Theatre | A Slick 900-Seat Theatre from Two London Stage Legends
The Bridge has always had a lot riding on it.
The theatre is named after its location opposite Tower Bridge, and when it opened in 2017 after a £12 million build, there was understandably some expectation – not just for the cost, but for it being run by London Theatre Company, the brainchild of Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, aka two widely-respected directors who were previously lionised for their 12 years leading the programming at the National Theatre.
Facing stiff competition from down the Thames (as well as the West End) to stage the best new plays, to match their foes the two Nicks have implemented 900 seats in the auditorium, which is – as you’d expect from London’s first commercial stage of this kind of scale in over 40 years – ultra-slick and just as comfortable. It has the room and the flexibility to conform to both traditional shows (with a proper stage-feel and proscenium arch set up), and more experimental immersive productions, where the stall seats are removed; platforms rise up, dramatically hoisting the actors from the floor; and audience members feel like they’re genuinely part of the play – as with The Bridge’s staging of Julius Caesar where patrons promenaded as a shouty mob in wake of the emperor’s bloody demise.
While you get plenty of fresh and fun retellings of classics at The Bridge – from Shakespeare to epic fantasy tales like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – newly written shows are also a priority, and you’ll see hummy musicals pulled from Broadway commissioned on occasion as well. The Bridge’s first production was Young Marx, an irreverent play about Karl Marx’s childhood starring Rory Kinnear as young Karl. If you want a bit of star-gazing with your stage, big names consistently feature with the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Laura Linney and Ben Whishaw leading casts in previous seasons. As for what’s on at The Bridge now? Hytner’s adaptation of feel-good musical Guys & Dolls is running through until February 2024.
And while going to the theatre on its ownsome is enjoyable enough, sure, theatre with St. John wine and bakes is just a teensy bit better. Thus The Bridge offers both of those, and during intervals, you can (and should) make a beeline for the freshly-baked madeleines. For the pre or post show dinner, there’s no on-site restaurant at The Bridge, but that’s a non-issue considering you’re in the radius of Borough Market and some of the best restaurants in London Bridge, like The Coal Shed.
But you can cross that bridge when you come to it…
NOTE: The Bridge is open an hour before each performance. For info on shows and tickets, head right here.
The Bridge Theatre | 3 Potters Fields Park, London SE1 2SG
And for the post-theatre drinks? No harm in trying one of London Bridge’s best bars…
3 Potters Field Park, London Bridge, SE1 2SG
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