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Duchess Theatre

One of London's more intimate venues

A guide to the Duchess Theatre in London's West End

Nestled in the West End's maze of narrow streets is the Duchess Theatre, a 469-seat venue that regularly hosts hit shows and is known for its imaginative roster of new plays and old favourites. It’s close to attractions such as Covent Garden, London Transport Museum and the Cortauld Institute. It’s also within easy walking distance of lots of popular restaurants and pubs making it ideally placed if you want to combine your visit with pre- or post-theatre drinks or a great lastminute.com meal deal.

Over the years, the theatre has staged productions such as Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, Kenneth Tynan's titillating Oh! Calcutta!, and Marc Camoletti's Don't Dress For Dinner which ran from October 1992 to March 1997. More recently it has staged a mixture of new and classic drama, comedies, stand-up comedy and musical theatre.

The history

The Duchess Theatre is one of the smallest West End theatres to feature a proscenium arch. The now Grade II listed building was built on a derelict World War I bomb site and opened for business on 25 November 1929. Due to right-to-light rules which stipulate that new buildings should not obstruct the passage of light to the space occupied by neighbouring buildings, the theatre was constructed so as to have stalls below street level. The building's ornamental facade has been described as 'modern Tudor Gothic'.

Apart from hosting Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit and Oh Calcutta! The Duchess Theatre also staged Tom Eyen's The Dirtiest Show in Town, which ran for 800 performances in the 1970s and a Late Joys Victorian Music Hall by the Players Theatre Company between 1987 and 1990. It was followed by Marc Camoletti's Don't Dress for Dinner, which transferred to the Duchess from the Apollo in 1992 and ran until 1997.

More recent productions include Harold Pinter's Betrayal with Janie Dee and Aden Gillett, Krapps' Last Tape by Samuel Beckett with Michael Gambon, the musical The Pitmen Painters and The Buddy Holly Story. Others include Terence Rattigan's Man and Boy starring David Suchet, The Boy with Tape on his Face, Ruby Wax, the award winning Stones in his Pockets, The Glee Club by Richard Cameron and Butley by Simon Gray.

Buy Duchess Theatre tickets

The Duchess Theatre is located in Catherine Street, in close proximity to Aldwych and the Strand. The closest tube stations are Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line and Temple on the Circle and District lines. 20 steps lead up to the stalls, another eleven up to the dress circle. Built on two levels, the theatre provides access for wheelchair users. You'll be able to choose your preferred seating from the Duchess Theatre seating plan when booking at the box office or online.

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