Noel Coward’s classic play ‘Private Lives’ makes a welcome return to the West End, starring Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor in the roles of Elyot and Amanda. This hilarious comedy will delight those who have seen it multiple times as well as those coming to it for the first time.
The Gielgud Theatre is situated in the well-known area of Shaftesbury Avenue, slap-bang in the middle of London’s Theatreland. There are several major theatres in the immediate area including the Apollo, Lyric and Queen’s Theatres, and consequently the district is geared towards tourist crowds. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from, and Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are all within walking distance. International cuisine is also on the doorstep courtesy of nearby Soho and Chinatown.
By Tube: The nearest station to the Gielgud Theatre is Piccadilly Circus on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines, although Charing Cross is not much further afield and is serviced by the Northern, Bakerloo and National Rail services.
By bus: Numbers 14, 19 and 38 all stop close to the theatre.
By taxi or car: There is a taxi rank outside Charing Cross station to make hailing a cab a fuss-free experience. Alternatively, drivers can park at the Poland Street or Chinatown MasterPark or the NCP on Wardour Street.
The Gielgud Theatre is a difficult theatre due to a number of pillars around the auditorium. The deep curve of the Dress Circle continues high into the theatre, making each of the higher sections shallow but curved around. The auditorium seats 888 people over three levels, and the gentle hum of the tube can be felt and heard regularly throughout each performance.
The Stalls section is divided into four blocks, with a larger front section and three back sections divided by a number of pillars. These pillars restrict a lot of the action, and are always in view for those sat rows S-Z on either side of the house. The best seats are in the central block between rows K and R, as close to the middle as possible to avoid any form of obstruction. The height of the stage restricts some views from the front couple of rows and some production elements will be missed. The Dress Circle is the first level up, 3 steps above street level. The section feels quite narrow due to the curve around the balcony. It is divided into three sections, of which the central is the best in terms of view of the stage. Seats towards the end of each row curve around the balcony and provide a restricted view. Row A and boxes are heavily restricted and should only be chosen if discounted.
The Upper Circle feels high above the theatre, especially in the rear section. The front rows B-E can provide excellent value for money, although the top of the theatre can sometimes cause a restriction. The seats are heavily raked which helps the view over the audience in front. Sit as close to the front as possible.
The Gielgud Theatre consists of three levels, with the Stalls, Dress Circle and Upper Circle making up the main auditorium. Upon arrival at the theatre there is 1 step to the foyer from the street. There are 3 steps up to the Dress Circle, with more down to the Stalls and up to the Upper Circle. There are discounts available for all disabled theatregoers and their carers.
There are 2 wheelchair spaces in Row B of the Dress Circle. Unfortunately the Stalls and Upper Circle are both inaccessible for wheelchair users. Guests can find an adapted toilet in the foyer, where there is also a bar with level access; alternatively, drinks can be brought to disabled guests in their seats.
The Gielgud Theatre is fitted with an induction loop at the Box Office, and an infra-red system in the main auditorium. Whilst up to 2 guide dogs are allowed inside the theatre during each show, they are not permitted inside the auditorium whilst the performance is occurring. The theatre staff can dog-sit during this period.Access bookings telephone line 020 7492 9930 or access booking form.
The Gielgud Theatre was initially conceived by architect W. G. R. Sprague as part of a pair with the Queen’s Theatre, which is located on the adjacent corner of Shaftesbury Avenue. It was originally named the Hicks Theatre in honour of the actor, manager and playwright Seymour Hicks, but was renamed the Globe Theatre in 1909 and finally as the Gielgud Theatre in 1994. However upon opening in 1906 it was Hicks who was the firm influence, and indeed the theatre’s first two productions were musicals written by Hicks: The Beauty of Bath and My Darling. During his 1909 production of his play The Dashing Little Duke, Hicks even took over his actress wife’s role when she fell ill, making it the only example of a husband taking over his wife’s part on the West End stage!
Throughout the decades the Gielgud Theatre has played host to numerous successful productions. Particular successes include Dodie Smith’s Call It A Day, which ran for 509 performances from 1935, There’s A Girl In My Soup, which ran for 1064 performances from 1966, and Daisy Pulls It Off, which amassed a grand total of 1180 performances. Other notable productions include several plays by Alan Ayckbourn, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Equus, Avenue Q and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The current production is a revival of the classic comedy The Ladykillers.