Newest Review: ... else is buried beneath the church itself - very apt considering their most successful production is a ghost story. It's probably as w... more
A slightly shabby Fortune
Fortune Theatre in general
Member Name: Ariel_uk
Fortune Theatre in general
Date: 05/09/01, updated on 05/09/01 (62 review reads)
Advantages: Intimate performance space, welcoming
Disadvantages: a bit cramped and slightly shabby
Hard though it is to separate the Fortune Theatre from it’s longest running production – The Woman in Black – which has been in residence for 12 years now, I‘m going to try!
Located pretty much in the middle of the West End (Russell Street, Covent Garden) this theatre seems overshadowed by its much larger, plusher neighbors. It must be admitted that first impressions here are not exactly awe inspiring - everything looks a little cramped, a little run down. However, when you consider how it was built, tucked under and around an impressive Church of Scotland church, you may start to appreciate its ingenuity. Rather than ascending a grand staircase rising above a plush ticket office, you are ushered off to the side, down some stairs and into the bar. As far as I can work out, the Upper circle is at ground level, and everything else is buried beneath the church itself - very apt considering their most successful production is a ghost story. It's probably as well it is on a quiet road, as groups would defiantly need to rally outside, as once inside there's no room for a large group, except in their seats.
The loos are tiny, but clean and actually a step up from various more impressive sounding venues. The bar is cosy, but not ludicrously overpriced, and the option of pre-ordering drinks for the interval speeds things along later in the evening. Souvenirs (sweatshirts, play texts etc) are available from a little cubby off the bar. Once into the main stalls area, things continue shabby, and a little close packed, but surprisingly comfortable for all that (although we did swap seats to make sure my long legged partner got the aisle seat.) I’ve been a lot less comfortable in far more modern and lavish surroundings! Ushers with trays of ice cream in the aisles at the interval may be old fashioned, but makes it feel like a Proper Theatre. The original design is late 20's, so there's a high peak of elegance and
grandeur to be fading, and the delightful Nouveaux style figure of Fortune at the top of the fašade is worth looking out for. I’m not sure of it was the cosy nature of the surroundings, or the nature of he performance, but this has to be one of the friendliest London theatre I’ve ever visited – everyone from the staff to our fellow audience members were friendly and polite, and happy to strike up a conversation with a stranger at the interval.
I didn’t explicitly check out disabled access, but there ought to be provisions for people with mobility problems, and the staff’s attitude was very much one of wanting to help, so I am confident that companion seats and the like would not be a problem. Ticket prices are towards the lower end of the West End scale, which considering the stature of the current cast makes it a real bargain. Even cheaper standby tickets were available on the door on the Thursday evening I attended, although the gentleman in the box office did mention that they sell out most Fridays. Being in the West End there are countless places to eat before or after the performance, on almost any budget. There’s even a lovely little park around the corner for an early evening picnic - coming from Covet Garden Market, continue past the theatre and turn left, and it’s on your left. Similarly, transport is not a problem, with several bus and underground stations nearby.
All in all, the venue is a descent and welcoming theatre, and its slightly tatty elegance does create a great atmosphere.