Turns out, Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts aren’t the only good actors in Notting Hill.
You’ll find the rest of them packed into a tiny, black box theatre space above the Prince Albert pub.
Since opening in 1979, Notting Hill’s Gate Theatre has been making a name for itself as a home for high-quality, provocative fringe theatre. Seating just 75, their aim is to stage shows that are (sometimes literally) “a live conversation with our audience.”
The emphasis here is on international plays, both classic and contemporary. Under the stewardship of artistic director Ellen McDougall they’ve included a climate change emergency piece by Copenhagen-based theatre company Fix&Foxy; a festival of contemporary Arab writing; and an award-winning adaptation of a Romanian refugee’s autobiography, called “Why The Child Is Cooking In The Polenta”. Spanning genres, form, places and time, their shows regularly get five stars from the critics for their honest and thought-provoking depictions of the world today. And with a knack for casting emerging talent alongside big names, they’ve won a slew of awards, too.
Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992
The theatre space itself is long and awkward, which results in some of the most interesting sets you’ll find on London stages (and a particularly drawn-out walk of shame for latecomers). But the diminutive size means that you always feel involved – almost complicit – with what’s happening on the stage. It’s all part of the Gate’s philosophy that theatre can change the world, and that the most important part of the play is what happens afterwards…
Which is why they regularly host ‘Gate Lates’, post-show events that range from Q&As with writers and directors, to live readings (with the likes of Akala), discussions, workshops and parties. As part of their commitment to community outreach, they operate a pay-what-you-can scheme for these events, meaning you can hear David Lammy talk about the politics of rioting or Robert Winston discuss transgenic technology for a fiver.
That generous ticketing system goes for the main shows, too. The earlier you book, the cheaper they are – or you can try your luck on the night, with £5 tickets for under 30s.
As for the most important part – there’s an excellent theatre bar, too.
It’s called the Prince Albert.
NOTE: The Gate Theatre is currently closed due to the pandemic, but please consider supporting them with a donation. You can find out more HERE.
Gate Theatre | 11 Pembridge Road, London, W11 3HQ
Like theatre? Check out Notting Hill’s Coronet, too.