The Old Red Lion Theatre first opened its doors in 1979, and is now one of London's oldest and most loved theatre venues. Please help us celebrate our 45th year by coming along and supporting the work of our artists.
We are the Off-West End home of exceptional, ambitious and challenging theatre, ranging from world premieres of new plays to acclaimed revivals of significant productions from throughout history.
We support the UK’s most exciting artists at crucial stages of their careers, presenting work that challenges our audiences and connects us to communities rarely given the opportunity to be seen on stage. This focus firmly establishes us as one of the most acclaimed Off-West End venues for ambitious, powerful theatre.
Our mission is to nurture and present the very best of new, emerging theatrical talent. Esteemed artists including Abi Morgan, Joe Penhall, Kathy Burke, Stephen Daldry, Penelope Skinner and Nina Raine are just a few who had their early work presented on our stage, and this list grows each year.
The Old Red Lion Theatre has recently been chosen as one of the must-visit Off-West End theatres in London! This TickX guide showcases the other side of London’s theatre scene, paying homage to the importance of fringe theatre and giving theatre-goers a new way to explore some of what London has to offer: https://www.tickx.co.uk/story/
The Old Red Lion Theatre has an unparalleled reputation across Off-West End theatre for staging challenging, ambitious work, and as such a significant number of our productions have transferred to the West End and Off-Broadway.
We were the home to Mischief Theatre’s premier of the now Olivier award-winning The Play That Goes Wrong before it transferred to Trafalgar Studios in 2013, toured the UK, and found its new home in the heart of the West End at the Duchess Theatre.
Other recent productions staged at the Old Red Lion that have transferred into the West End and beyond include the world premiere of Arthur Miller’s first play No Villain, Ned Bennett’s revival of Phillip Ridley’s Mercury Fur, Moses Raine's Donkey Heart, and Naomi Sheldon’s Good Girl (Trafalgar Studios); Mrs Orwell (Southwark Playhouse); Kissing Sid James (London and Off-Broadway) and The Importance of Being Earnest (Theatre Royal Haymarket).
We are currently the official home of GrimFest - a celebration of dark & twisted theatre in the bleeding heart of London. The Old Red Lion is the spiritual home of horror theatre and we love welcoming shows of this genre into our haunted venue.
In 2022 we also established FreshFest - opening our doors to companies from across the UK to present new work in our venue for one to three nights, supporting new artists & helping shape the future of fringe theatre. The festival is back for 2024 and is running for five weeks until the 24th February.
what we programme
The ORL's main programme of productions generally run on Tuesday - Saturday evenings with weekend matinees, and our programming is known for it's quality, ambition and as a hotbed of the finest emerging and established theatre artists.
Sundays and Mondays are given over to our Visiting Companies programme, where the most dynamic emerging theatre-makers try out their ideas. Everything from first try-outs of new productions, play readings, workshops, scratch nights, music and comedy have been performed as ORL Visiting Companies.
Often playwrights and other creatives use these nights as an opportunity for their work to be developed into a professional production, which can eventually end up being part of one of our programmed seasons. The ORL has welcomed productions at all stages of creation.
The Old Red Lion has an established reputation of acting as a springboard for artists to start working in larger venues, and the productions we stage have received an immense volume of Offie (OffWestEnd.com) nominations, awards and press attention, which actively support an artist’s career progression:
2020 OFFIE NOMINATIONS:
Best Performance in a Play: James Demaine for Buried (Nuclear War/Buried/Graceland)
Best Production: Nuclear War/Buried/Graceland Triptych
2019 OFFIE NOMINATIONS:
Best Female Performance: Kathryn O'Reilly for Poisoned Polluted
Best Female Performance: Anna Doolan for Poisoned Polluted
Best Female Performance: Gillian Dean for Crystal Clear
Best Male Performance: Gareth Kennerley for Crystal Clear
Best Female Performance: Rachel Harper for Rattled
Best Female Performance: Alex Jarrett for AISHA
Best New Play: AISHA by AJ
Best Director: AJ for AISHA
Best Set Designer: Alys Whitehead for AISHA
Best Sound Designer: Julian Starr for AISHA
Best Lighting Designer: Joseph Thomas for AISHA
North West End Top Three Shows of 2018:
Bag of Beard Theatre for Renaissance Men
2018 OFFIE WINNER:
Best Lighting Designer: Zoe Spurr for Tiny Dynamite
2018 OFFIE FINALIST:
Best New Play: Kenneth Emson's Plastic
2018 OFFIE NOMINATIONS:
Best Female in A Play: Edie Newman for Broken
Best Ensemble: Plastic
Best Female in A Play: Jill McAusland for The Moor
Most Promising New Playwright: Catherine Lucie for The Moor
Best Director: Blythe Stewart for The Moor
Best Sound Designer: Dan Jeffries for Tiny Dynamite
2017 OFFIE FINALIST:
Best Set Design: Max Dorey for Talk Radio
2016 OFFIE WINNERS:
Most Promising New Playwright: Tim Foley for The Dogs of War
Best Artistic Director: Stewart Pringle for the Old Red Lion Theatre
2016 OFFIE FINALIST:
Best Supporting Female: Kate Kennedy for Three Short Plays
2015 OFFIE FINALIST:
Best Production: Piranha Heights
2013 OFFIE WINNER:
Best Set Designer: James Turner for Mercury Fur
2013 OFFIE FINALIST:
Best Production: Mercury Fur
2012 OFFIE FINALIST:
Most Promising New Playwright: Luke Barnes for Chapel Street