The Old Vic – A Theatregoer’s Guide
The Old Vic is located south of the river close to Waterloo Station. If you walk or cycle down Waterloo Road, you can’t miss it on the corner of The Cut. The postcode is SE1 8NB. If you’re driving, the National Theatre car park is a good place to park.
The theatre opened in 1818 and was was rebuilt in 1871 and restored in 1985. ‘Old Vic’, now its official title, was originally a nickname acquired because throughout much of the 19th century, it had ‘Victoria’ in its name.
Which are the best seats at The Old Vic?
There are over a thousand seats spread across three levels- Stalls, Dress Circle and at the top the Lilian Baylis Circle. The theatre employs a number of seating configurations in recent years including a form of in-the-round: my comments relate to the standard proscenium arch arrangement.
A good view is hard to find. I would plump for the Stalls but be aware that the rake is poor so get near the middle centre or front. The Circle has pillars and should be avoided. Seats in the Lilian Baylis are a long way up, cramped and often restricted in view.
INSIDER TIP: £10 tickets are available for the first five previews of shows. If you’re aged 60+, phone the box office to buy £30 tickets for matinees.
While the building work is going on, access to the seating areas is via temporary entrances down the sides of the building. Check your tickets and the signage.
Toilets at The Old Vic
Magnificent as it is to look at, the 200 year old building’s Front Of House facilities are terrible. In The Stage newspaper’s survey, the Old Vic was the worst theatre for women’s toilets with 56.7 fighting for each cubicle.
Fortunately the theatre is doing something about it. It is currently undergoing a major transformation that will among other things greatly improve the toilets situation to the great relief of the half the audience identifying as women. At the time of writing, there are temporary toilets outside the theatre, accessible by a covered walkway. Catering is also limited at present to drinks and cold snacks which you’ll find on the first floor.
So, poor facilities and poor seating. Is there anything in its favour? Yes, it puts on some terrific shows that more than compensate for the hardships.
Official website: oldvictheatre.com
Official box office number: 0344 871 7628