What You Need To Know About The Criterion Theatre:
The Criterion Theatre is one of the West End’s smallest and most unique theatres. It is currently a Grade II listed building and its running is overseen by the Criterion Theatre Trust, a registered charity set up to secure the future of the historical theatre.
The Criterion Theatre is built on the site of a 17th Century posting inn. The theatre building was completed in 1873 and the first production opened the following year. Throughout its history, the Criterion Theatre has been used for a variety of plays and, perhaps most famously, light comedies. Fittingly, the current production playing at the Criterion Theatre at the time of writing is The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, which was created by the same team as the hit show The Play That Goes Wrong. You can read about the show here.
Top Facts About The Criterion Theatre:
- During the Second World War, the BBC took over the Criterion. Due to its underground location, the Beeb had the idea that it would make the perfect studio, safe from the London Blitz to record in and broadcast programmes from.
- When the theatre first opened, officials worried that the audience would suffocate in the underground gas-lit space. The modern theatre has subsequently been sufficiently renovated, including a new ventilation system.
- The Criterion Theatre was originally intended to be a concert hall and, if you look closely, you can still see tiling with the names of composers in the building.
- Comedian, writer and actor Stephen Fry is the Chairman of the Criterion Theatre Trust.
Key Information About The Criterion Theatre:
Tube: You can travel right to the doorstep of the Criterion Theatre by heading to Piccadilly Circus tube station, which is on both the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines. Leicester Square (Piccadilly and Northern lines) is also only a very short walk away.
Train: Head to Charing Cross railway station on The Strand, which is just a five to 10 minute walk from the theatre.
Bus: Bus numbers 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15,19, 22, 23, 38, 88, 94, 139, 159 and 453 stop very close to the theatre. You can plan your journey in more detail by visiting the Transport for London website.
West End parking
Q-Park car parks can be found at:
Chinatown – 20 Newport Place, WC2H 7PR
Soho – Poland Street, W1F 7NQ
Trafalgar – Spring Gardens, SW1A 2TS
Leicester Square – Whitcomb Street, WC2H 7DT
Q-Park offers discounted parking for ticket-holders visiting participating West End theatres and the Criterion Theatre is part of the Q-Park Theatreland Parking Scheme.
NCP car parks can be found at:
Shaftesbury – Selkirk House, Museum Street, WC1A 1JR
Covent Garden – Parker Street, WC2B 5NT
The closest car park to the theatre is: Trafalgar.
For step free access into the auditorium (which is located below street level) you will need to book for the Upper Circle, where there are spaces for two wheelchairs. To get into the theatre without using steps, go to the step-free entrance by the stage door in Jermyn street, located at the back of the theatre.
The theatre has accessible toilets, which can also be found in the Upper Circle.
Working dogs are not allowed in the auditorium, but staff can look after up to two dogs at a time in the manager’s office.
The auditorium is fitted with an infra-red hearing system, for which you can get headsets from the Cloakroom. There is also an induction loop system in the foyer for the box office.
For any access needs, you can book your tickets and discuss any requirements by calling 020 7839 8811.
The Criterion schedules Audio-Described performances for selected productions. Details of any future access performances can be found on their website and booked directly through the box office.
The Criterion Theatre has two in-house bars (the Greene Bar and the Lord Attenborough Bar), which serve a variety of beverages. You can also purchase pre-show and interval snacks. The theatre is a particularly beautiful West End venue, so it’s well-worth arriving early for a drink and a look-around.