Book Adam Kay: This Is Going to Hurt Tickets
Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5LA
Address: 3-5 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5LA
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.
Facilities At Duchess Theatre
Seat plan: Duchess Theatre Seat Plan
Infrared hearing loop
Access description: One shallow step up from Catherine Street on a slight slope – lower to the right. facing main entrance. 10 steps up to the Dress Circle (3 steep steps between each row). 20 steps down to the Stalls. Staircases have handrails on both sides, and some steps are highlighted. Auditorium open 30 mins prior to performance.
Sound Amplification: Sennheiser system with 6 headsets. Avoid the first 3 rows in the Stalls and the boxes as the signal is not very strong there.
Guide Dogs: Guide dogs are allowed into the auditorium if you are seated in an aisle seat or a box. Staff will also dog-sit in manager’s office for a maximum of 2 guide dogs per performance.
Disabled Access: Steps to all parts of the auditorium. Wheelchair users who need to remain in their chairs can use AAT Major stair-climber which lowers chairs to the stalls level, where there are spaces at N1 and N29. Please note, the stair-climber is not stored in site so advance notification is essential. Alternatively, if you are able to transfer from your chair, theatre staff will be able to assist you to any aisle seat in the Dress Circle, which is up 12 steps. Your chair will be stored in a cloakroom by the Stalls. Staff are happy to help. F1 and F22 in the Stalls have the most leg room. Staff will also try to find suitable seating on the night.
Toilets: Women’s and men’s by Stalls, plus men’s 8 steps up and women’s 17 steps up from the Dress Circle.
Disabled Toilets: One adapted toilet at Stalls. Door opens inwards
Nearest tube: Covent Garden
Tube lines: Piccadilly
Location: West End
Railway station: Charing Cross
Bus numbers: (Aldwych) RV1, 6, 11, 13, 23, 59, 68, 87, 171, 172, 188, X68
Night bus numbers: (Aldwych) 6, 23, 188, N11, N13, N26, N47, N68, N87, N89, N155, N171, N551
Car park: Drury Lane, Parker Street (5mins)
Within congestion zone?: Yes
Directions from tube: (5mins) Go right on Long Acre; turn right into Bow Street and after 100 metres turn left (Russell Street) then immediately right onto Catherine Street, where the theatre is located 100 metres down.