Going Out: Good Venue Guide; 8: THE OLD VIC, SE1

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Date of Birth: 1818.

Building: built as the Royal Coburg by a triumvirate of defectors from other theatres, a Mr Jones, Mr Dunn and Mr Serres (who was, oddly enough, the marine painter to King George IV). They conscripted the help of Princess Charlotte of Wales in wheedling cash from the public, and commissioned a design from Cabanal. One hundred and 60 years later, the Murvishes restored the building in line with the original design.

Brief history: a mistress of reinvention, the Old Vic has been an opera house, music hall, working man's college, people's theatre and temperance hall. In 1958, 16 people died in the panicked crush of a false fire alarm. Under Lilian Baylis in the 1920s and 30s it became the first theatre to put on all of Shakespeare's plays. Canadian entrepreneurs, Ed and David Murvish began a $2.5m renovation in 1983 with a giant scaffolding banner reading "Lilian Baylis, you're going to love this". Despite Peter Hall's experiment with seven-days-a-week rep - which attracted both goodish reviews and casts including Alison Steadman, Felicity Kendal and Ben Kingsley - the Murvishes are pulling out.

Strange but true: the theatre seems plagued by false alarms - a performance of Hurlyburly in March of this year was interrupted by a hoax bomb scare. The cast gallantly finished the play in a nearby park.

Current events: Waiting for Godot, The Seagull, King Lear, Shining Souls, The Provok'd Wife. Tickets pounds 10-pounds 24. Box office: 0171 928 7616.

Transport: Northern/Bakerloo line or British Rail to Waterloo.

Cost of a glass of wine: pounds 2 at all of the three bars.

Fancy owning a theatre? If you can spare some change to the tune of pounds 7.5m, estate agents Nelson Bakewell are accepting offers. Athalie Matthews

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