South Bank London

National Theatre

This iconic theatre is famous for its incredible productions, Brutalist architecture and atmospheric bars.

Opening Hours

Box office: Mon–Sat 10am–6pm

It is recommended to arrive 30minutes before the performance

Contact Info

National Theatre Upper Ground South Bank London SE1 9PX
+44 20 3989 5455

The National Theatre is one of South Bank’s most distinctive landmarks and has a formidable global reputation for producing outstanding theatre.

The building itself is an icon of Brutalist architecture, considered to be architect Denys Lasdun’s most accomplished masterpiece, and whether you are coming to watch a play or just to have a drink at one of the bars, it’s an impressive construction to admire from both the outside and from within its cleverly designed public spaces.

National Theatre’s three stages

The National Theatre has three stages and typically presents more than 20 different productions a year.  The Olivier stage, named after the National’s first director Laurence Olivier, is a 1,115 seat fan-shaped auditorium built in the style of an amphitheatre. The Lyttelton is a proscenium theatre, where it is said that you can see and hear almost equally well from each of its 890 seats.

The smallest and most flexible stage is the Dorfman Theatre, which can hold up to 450 people in conventional, “traverse” or in-the-round formats.

Where to eat and drink at National Theatre

On the ground floor opening out onto the Queen’s Walk is The Understudy, a casual bar known for its south London-brewed craft beers, and an adjoining street food counter KERB at The Understudy where you can get artisanal pizza, wings and Indian thalis.

Upstairs from here is Lasdun, the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed restaurant. Launched by the team from the award-winning Marksman in Hackney, it’s known for its elegant modernist surroundings, refined atmosphere and excellent contemporary British cuisine.

On the other side of the main theatre entrance, opposite the BFI and Waterloo Bridge, the National Theatre Café opens onto a large piazza where in the summer months a pop-up outdoor venue with street food trucks and a craft bar appears. Above this on the balcony is Forza Wine, a hip boutique wine bar with an ‘Italian-ish’ small plates menu.

Go behind-the-scenes

Guided tours of the theatre take place six days a week with expert guides leading visitors on a 75-minute tour that includes the opportunity to visit the on-site carpentry, props and scenic painting workshops and to see the auditoriums being prepared for a show. During the summer school holidays the theatre also runs special family tours.

If you don’t have enough time for a tour, a visit to the Sherling Backstage Walkway is another fascinating detour. This purposed-designed elevated walkway gallery winds its way through the backstage areas offering glimpses into the different workshops. Insightful descriptions along the way shedding light onto the different activities taking place behind the scenes on any given day and the outstanding technology involved in the theatre's productions.

If you are passionate about theatre and theatre production a visit to the excellent National Theatre Bookshop is another must. Stacked with books about theatre, acting, theatre production and playwriting, it also has some fun theatre-related gifts and souvenirs, including decorative pieces referencing the brutalist architecture and honey produced at the theatre’s rooftop apiary.

Discounted tickets and Friday Rush deals

Every Friday at 1pm ticket sales open online for the Friday Rush. The Friday Rush tickets are only available for shows happening in the following week and are limited in number. Although with all Friday Rush tickets costing just £10 it’s well worth setting an alarm for!

Every day at 10am a limited number of tickets are available at the theatre box office for shows happening on that day. These tickets must be bought in person and are limited to two per person. Make sure to arrive early to get a good place in the queue.

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