When it comes to seeing a show in London, there is a huge range of choice – from glittery West End productions to lower budget shows and those that are just starting up. The latter are often referred to as Off West End, and there are theatres across the capital that put on these types of performances every night.
Off West End theatres may not offer the glamour of the bigger shows, but they can often be a great place to see up-and-coming talent. They also provide an opportunity to watch performances by lesser-known playwrights. You won’t find anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber in these venues, but you never know when you might be watching something by the younger generation’s equivalent.
One popular Off West End venue is the Finborough Theatre. Situated in West Brompton, this small theatre presents mainly new British writing, as well as UK and world premieres of new plays from other locations like North America and Ireland. It also occasionally shows plays written in Scots, musicals and rare plays from the 19th and 20th centuries.
If you’re planning to see a show at the Finborough Theatre, here are some things you should know before you go:
- It was completed in 1868 – The Finborough Arms was one of five public houses that were built by Corbett and McClymont. At the time, there was a major development boom in West London, particularly in the area around Earls Court. The theatre was opened above the pub in 1980, and it has continued to host performances ever since.
- It has won a number of awards – The theatre has accumulated several accolades over the years. The Pearson Award bursary for playwrights has been awarded nine times since 2000, as well as the Pearson Award for Best Play. The Empty Space Peter Brook Award was given to the facility in 2010 and 2012, and it was named The Stage 100’s Fringe Theatre of the Year award in 2011.
- It’s tiny – With an audience capacity of just 50 people, the Finborough is certainly a small theatre. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality. Vogue called the theatre “pocket-sized”, while critic Paul Taylor from the Independent said: “The tiny Finborough Theatre in Earls Court is one of the most stimulating venues in London, fielding a programme that is a bold mix of trenchant, politically thought-provoking new drama and shrewdly chosen revivals of neglected works from the past.”
- It’s easy to get to – The Finborough Theatre is located at 118 Finborough Road, SW10 9ED. The closest London Underground stations are Earl’s Court (on the District and Piccadilly lines) and West Brompton (on the District line). Both are an easy 5-10 minute walk from the theatre. Various buses also serve the local area, including the 11, 14, 22, 74, 190, 211, 328, C1, C3, N11, N14 and N97. There is street parking in the surrounding area, including Pay and Display bays, which are free after 6:30 pm. However, please note that most of the on-street parking within the immediate vicinity is for residents only.
- You should try to book tickets in advance – Booking tickets is a definite must since the size of the venue means spaces for each performance are limited. You can book tickets online, over the phone, by post or in person. The box office is located in the Finborough Arms pub, just inside the main entrance. Tickets can be collected from one hour before each performance.
- The pub’s opening hours – From Monday to Friday, The Finborough Arms opens at 5.00pm. It also opens one hour before the performance for weekday matinees. On the weekends, the pub opens at noon.
- You can become a friend of the Finborough – This scheme gives theatre lovers the opportunity to support this acclaimed venue. Since the Finborough is a registered charity that receives no public funding, it depends on support from the public. There are various levels of ‘friendship’, and each category includes specific benefits, such as advance notifications of productions and special ticket offers.
- There’s a great hotel nearby – If you’re looking for accommodation near the Finborough Theatre, then be sure to check out the Park Grand London Kensington. This stylish hotel is just a short walk from the theatre and provides a comfortable, boutique atmosphere perfect for families, couples and business travellers. Our staff has been carefully trained to provide a high level of service to all guests, and there’s even an on-site restaurant where you can enjoy delicious meals throughout the day.