New independent theatre: Bridge Theatre, London Bridge
Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear and David Morrissey lead a bold inaugural season at Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr's Bridge Theatre, now open
Having steered the National Theatre through a golden era of hit show after hit show Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr have a winning formula. From 2003 to 2015 the pair transformed the programming and prestige of the NT, with blockbuster breakout hits such as History Boys, War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors alongside affordable ticket prices and bolder initiatives such as new writing hot-spot The Shed.
Now, the National Theatre's former artistic director and executive director are channelling this expertise with a new project: Bridge Theatre, London's first commercial theatre beyond the West End.
The 900-seat performance space, located in SE1's One London Bridge development, will be home to Hytner and Starr's newly-established London Theatre Company. The creative emphasis is on new work with 'the occasional re-invention of a great work from the past' - and the inaugural season boasts a bracing combination of pedigree and star power.
Best of all, with ticket prices ranging from £15-65 (plus premium options) the Bridge Theatre broadens accessibility and bucks the West End trend towards eye-watering triple figures.
'We want to make bold, popular theatre. We've commissioned ambitious plays that reach out to embrace the audience, and we've built an environment for them that is exciting, welcoming and flexible – a theatre that can be changed to suit the show,' says Hytner.
Bridge Theatre opens with a season of eight plays, four of which will be directed by Hytner. Writing talents include Lucy Prebble, who galvanised audiences with ENRON (2009) and The Effect (2012) and Richard Bean of One Man, Two Guvnors fame. And the list of actors confirmed for the first season reads like a who's who of established and emerging stage stars.
Stage favourite Rory Kinnear plays Young Marx in a comedy about the 'broke, restless and horny' revolutionary, written by Richard Bean.
Ben Whishaw, who combines Hollywood hits with treading the boards at the Almeida, plays Brutus in a new promenade production of Julius Caesar. He will be joined by Game of Thrones' Michelle Fairley as Cassius and award-winning stage and screen regular David Morrissey as Mark Antony.
Later in the season there's a new work by rising star and Evening Standard award-winning playwright Barney Norris (Visitors 2012), an adaptation of Bizet's Carmen by Lucy Prebble and a new play about J S Bach starring 'greatest stage actor of his generation' Simon Russell Beale.
Young Marx by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, directed by Nicholas Hytner
Starring Rory Kinnear and Oliver Chris
October 18 - December 31
Click here to book
From summer 2018, dates to be confirmed:
Alys, Always, By Lucinda Coxon and directed by Nicholas Hytner; Flatpack, by John Hodge; A New Play About JS Bach, by Nina Raine and starring Simon Russell Beale; The Black Cloud, by Sam Holcroft, Carmen Havana, by Lucy Prebble, directed by Nicholas Hytner and choreographed by Miguel Altunaga