Good Venue Guide 31: Donmar Warehouse, WC2
Sunday 03 May 1998
Brief history: bananas. Harking back to the time when Covent Garden was famed not for its bars and boutiques but its fruit and veg, the warehouse made a living as a banana-ripening factory. It remained part of the market until the 1970s when the partnership of Donald Albery and Dame Margot Fonteyn secured the venue and converted it into a studio/performance space. Under Donald and Margot the 'Don-Mar' was born. The RSC held court there from 1977 to 1981, when Ian Albery (Donald's nephew) and Nico Burns took it over. They staged productions by some of Britain's most innovative touring companies, including the Druid Theatre Co and Cheek by Jowl. But lack of funds meant it was forced to close in 1989. It reopened in 1992 under the artistic directorship of Sam Mendes. It is the only studio theatre in central London generating productions with absolutely no public funding.
The building: a huge 19th-century warehouse. The recent redevelopment, by Renton, Howard, Wood & Levin, with a vertiginous mezzanine, 254-seat auditorium, reached by free-standing, winding metal staircases, has retained the building's airy height.
Uses: intelligent, innovative productions with starry casts (Brenda Blethyn, Zoe Wanamaker and Jim Broadbent have all appeared there since Mendes arrived); new plays, musicals (Cabaret recently transferred to Broadway) and revivals.
Current events: A triple bill of one-act Pinter plays, A Kind of Alaska with The Lover and The Collection, Thurs to 13 Jun, tickets pounds 10-25. All bookings on 0171 369 1732.
Recommended seats: centre stalls for view, top of circle for economy.
Getting there: Covent Garden tube, then a walk down Neal Street.
Where to meet: there's a bar in the stalls and another in the circle.
Cost of a glass of wine: pounds 2.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 2 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
- 3 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 4 Fifa corruption: Qatar says investigations are racist, anti-Arab and show 'ugly face' of countries who lost 2022 World Cup bid
- 5 We have six months to save the world, says leading economist
Game of Thrones, Battle of Hardhome: 20-minute Wildlings versus White Walkers battle took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Touch-screen Teletubbies say hello: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po are back, now with smart technology
Ed Sheeran debuts new song 'Sweet Mary Jane' about his love affair with weed
Black Angel: Long lost Star Wars precursor to be made into crowdfunded feature film
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers