Letter: National Theatre: love it and leave it

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The Independent Online
From Mr Michael D. Varcoe-Cocks Sir: As Sir Denys Lasdun has raised his head above the parapet ("Why my National Theatre should remain untouched", 15 December), may a frequent visitor to the National Theatre and other auditoria on the South Bank respond?

With the possible exception of the Barbican, the approach to the National and its public spaces are the most unwelcoming and unpleasant of any theatre I know. Outside, nothing in Sir Denys's gloomy windswept concrete "rhythmic layers" directs, let alone welcomes, us to the entrance, which is so unobvious that people walk up to glass walls thinking they might be entrance doors. Inside is an unstructured sprawl with no focal points.

The building may overlook the "most magical bend of the river, offering panoramic views of the city", but the reason hardly any of the audience takes advantage of this is that nothing in the theatre's design makes this an inviting option. The only savinggrace - thank goodness - are the three auditoria and the wonderful work put on in them.

Yours faithfully, M. D. VARCOE-COCKS London, W6

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