The Duchess Theatre is one of the smallest proscenium based theatres in the West End. Ewen Barr, who designed the building, was not considered to be a particularly successful architect, but he overcame many of the challenges of the awkwardly shaped site to create a relatively successful theatre. It opened in November 1929 with a production of Hubert Griffith’s Tunnel Trench. Short runs of plays dominated the Duchess Theatre’s early years, including works by Emlyn Williams and T. S. Eliot in the 1930s, but none quite so short as the 1930 production of The Intimate Revue, which opened and closed on the same night, March 11th, the shortest run of a production in West End history!
Fortunately, the theatre’s luck turned around and long running productions such as Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit in 1942, the musical Oh! Calcutta! In 1974 and Marc Camoletti’s Don’t Dress For Dinner in 1992 have ensured that the theatre never remained empty for very long.
Other than a run of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story in 2007, the Duchess Theatre has almost exclusively been home to straight plays rather than musicals over the last twenty years, and has seen several stars appear on its stage, including:
Maureen Lipman, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, David Suchet, Henry Goodman, Mark Rylance, Dominic West, Ruby Wax, Alex Jennings, Lenny Henry and Kathleen Turner.
The Theatre is currently owned by Nimax Theatres and plays host to the 2015 Olivier Award winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong.
The auditorium has two levels – Stalls and Grand Circle.
In the Stalls, seats curve inwards towards the end of each row and the seats are not raked until Row G. The Grand Circle also overhangs the Stalls from Row G onwards.
The Circle offers good views throughout, and it is a very intimate theatre so does not feel removed from the action.
Last Decade of Productions
|The Play That Goes Wrong||September 2014||-||Review|
|Bakersfield Mist||May 2014||August 2014||Review|
|Cool Rider Live!||April 2014||April 2014|
|Tell Me On A Sunday||February 2014||March 2014||Review|
|Beckett Trilogy: Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby||February 2014||February 2014|
|The Wind in the Willows||December 2013||February 2014|
|The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui||September 2013||December 2013|
|Fences||June 2013||September 2013||Review|
|Untold Stories||April 2013||June 2013|
|The Boy With Tape On His Face||December 2012||January 2013|
|Our Boys||October 2012||December 2012||Review|
|The Hurly Burly Show||July 2012||September 2012|
|The RSC's Written on the Heart||April 2012||May 2012|
|The Pitmen Painters||October 2011||April 2012||Review|
|Ruby Wax: Losing It||August 2011||October 2011|
|Butley||June 2011||August 2011|
|Ecstasy||April 2011||May 2011|
|Sign of the Times||March 2011||April 2011||Review|
|Love Story||December 2010||February 2011||Review|
|Krapp's Last Tape||September 2010||November 2010||Review|
|The Secret of Sherlock Holmes||July 2010||September 2010||Review|
|The Fantasticks||June 2010||June 2010||Review|
|The Last Five Years & Tick, Tick... Boom!||May 2010||May 2010|
|Ghosts||February 2010||March 2010||Review|
|Morecambe||December 2009||January 2010|
|Endgame||October 2009||December 2009||Review|
|Taking Sides / Collaboration||May 2009||August 2009||Review|
|Plague Over England||February 2009||May 2009||Review|
|Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story||August 2007||February 2009||Review|
|Hound of the Baskervilles||April 2007||June 2007||Review|
|Underneath the Lintel||February 2007||March 2007||Review|
|Stones in his Pockets||November 2006||December 2006|
|See How They Run||June 2006||October 2006||Review|