Theatre: A new stage for The Old Vic

The Old Vic, currently under threat, has successfully managed to combine successful seasons of the classics with a pioneering new-plays programme

The biggest sadness about the fate of the Old Vic - the site of which is in the process of being sold by the Canadian impresario Ed Mirvish - is what will happen to the theatre's new-plays programme. If you haven't been down to the Vic in the last year, it works like this. Five days a week, the Peter Hall company performs its repertoire of gilt-edged classics. On Sundays and Mondays, however, the company presents more contemporary work, a mini-season of the classics of the future, programmed by former artistic director of the Bush, Dominic Dromgoole.

It has been a productive experiment. Two nights a week doesn't sound much, until you remember that the Old Vic seats 600 people. A show that sells out, as Playhouse Creatures, April de Angelis's sprightly comedy about Restoration actresses, has done, reaches as many people in one evening as the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs can manage in 10 days. Financially, that makes the whole project viable, but it's also, Dromgoole says, important artistically. "It's essential to get new plays out of a ghetto mentality, to get away from that small-black-box, studio aesthetic. Audiences have responded to the new format surprisingly well."

When Hall's actors do lose their Waterloo base, the classics would almost certainly find a home in the West End, under the auspices of veteran producer Bill Kenwright. New writing is less likely to sit happily in this brave new (or, rather, brave old) commercial world.

Make the most of it while it lasts, then. Dromgoole's latest production, which opens tomorrow, is Roy MacGregor's Snake in the Grass, a big, sprawling play in the Enemy of the People mould, in which a man (played by Kevin Whately) returns to his home town to point an accusatory finger at a respected music teacher. "It's got quite a western quality to it," the director reflects.

MacGregor, a respected TV-writer who was discovered by Dromgoole at the Bush, sadly died before he could see his new play brought to the stage. A fine cast, including Theresa Banham (splendid in the RSC's The Herbal Bed) and the amazingly industrious Greg Hicks (currently appearing in five Old Vic productions) should guarantee him a fitting epitaph.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Reception Teacher

    £21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

    English Teacher

    £21806 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking to j...

    SEN KS1 Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...

    Reception Teacher

    £21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor