When the Criterion Theatre first opened in 1873, the space was designed as a concert hall. The Criterion Theatre is the only West End theatre to be situated almost entirely underground — even the Upper Circle is not at street level.
The Criterion Theatre housed comic opera in its early years, including works by W. S. Gilbert and George Grossmith. A decade after opening, the theatre had to be renovated to meet the Metropolitan Board of Works standards for ventilation. This work also saw the installation of electricity to the theatre. The building surrounding the theatre was extensively rebuilt between 1989 and 1992, but the Victorian auditorium was well-preserved and still stands today.
Notable shows at the Criterion Theatre include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, the long-running play The 39 Steps and Mischief Theatre's The Comedy About A Bank Robbery.
The auditorium has three levels – Stalls, Dress Circle and Upper Circle.
The front rows of the Stalls offers good views of the stage, though the seating is not raked steeply.
The Dress Circle has specifically designated ‘restricted view’ seats due to the number of pillars supporting the Upper Circle in Row C.
The Upper Circle offers unrestricted theatre views.
Location: West End
Railway station: Charing Cross
Bus numbers: (Haymarket) 3, 6, 12, 13, 19, 23, 38, 88, 139; (Regent Street) 14, 15, 22, 94, 159, 453
Night bus numbers: (Haymarket) 6, 12, 23, 88, 139, 159, N3, N13, N18, N19, N38, N97, N136, N550, N551; (Regent Street) 14, 94, 159, 453, N15, N22, N109
Car park: Leicester Square, Whitcomb Street (3 mins)
Directions from tube: The theatre can be seen on Piccadilly Circus next to the Eros statue.
3 May 2023 - 13 August 2023