L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Harold Pinter Theatre
The Stalls is designed as a deep undivided section with an average of 21 seats per row. A significant division is created however by two pillars situated in row M, affecting the view of many seats to the rear of the section. Seats in front of the pillar offer good views of the stage, particularly those towards the centre. Seats are not significantly raked, so some audience obstruction may occur throughout the section.
Unlike most theatres the width of the front row is the same size as the stage, meaning seats in the first four rows at either end can be restricted as the floor may be missed. Depending on the production these seats are discounted or sold as Day Seats, justifying the obstructions with a reduced price. Seat Plan has sat in these seats on many occasions and would recommend them to those wanting a dramatic experience. Best seats in the Stalls occur just before the pillars towards the centre of each row.
Seats in the rear stalls offer varying levels of restriction, but the better seats are to the side of the pillars, in-between the end of the row and the pillar itself. Seats at the front of the Upper Circle may provide a better value for money as sight lines are clearer – we would advise you to take those seats first.
The Dress Circle is divided into three sections by vertical aisles on either side of the central block. The Seating is shallow, with only five rows and is well raked to provide good sight lines over the balcony. The Upper Circle overhang does not restrict the view from any seats, but the central pillars in row C seats 6 and 15 do. Avoid sitting directly behind or on the side blocks, or the pillar will be in constant view. Because of the curve of the balcony, seats towards the edge face slightly inwards and do not look directly at the stage. The best seats offered are in the middle section, directly centre, sitting in between the pillars. Seats in this section are not particularly comfortable, and the leg room is poor.
The Royal Circle is significantly more restricted than the Dress Circle, due to the safety rails and the shape of the balcony. The section is not divided and the seats follow the deep curve of the circle creating restrictions to the front of the stage for the end five seats on each row. A large safety rail runs the length of the circle which can be seen from all seats even those further back. The rail is in view at all times and obstructs the front of the stage.
Two thin pillars are situated between the first and second row and are in the sight lines of all but the central most seats. Although it is relatively thin, combined with the safety rail there are a lot of restrictions that can block the view of the stage. Best seats are square centre of each row. The overhang does not affect the top of the proscenium and the top of the stage is visible from most rows. Legroom is an issue at this level and the seats are uncomfortable due to the lack of aisles.
The Balcony is the only level that is not restricted by pillars, although there are safety rails in between each row and one larger one running the length of the balcony. Seats are particularly uncomfortable and can feel cramped. Seats towards the centre offer a good overall view of the stage. As with all Balcony sections the seats are very far from the action and can present sound problems in smaller more intimate plays. Seats at the ends of each row cannot see the front of the stage, and the angle may cause a problem to some audience members.
Panton Street takes its name from Colonel Thomas Panton, a friend of Charles II. Something of a blackguard, a swindler and a gambler, he acquired an interest in four acres of land between Leicester Square and Haymarket, legally owned by Robert Baker, a tailor. Also associated with the land was Sir Henry Oxenden, Baker’s son-in-law, who contrived to establish joint ownership with Panton in 1669 following his inheritance of a life interest in the plot on Baker’s death - carefully excluding Baker's descendants - and by the early 1670s building was under way. Two four- storey houses, still standing next to the theatre on Its western side (although modernized externally in the mld-19th century), may well date from that 17th-century building activity. Also of interest in the street scene is the faience-fronted Tom Cribb pub, which perpetuates the name of the Gloucestershire-born coal porter who became a respected English bare-knuckle boxing champion in the 1800s.
Although much altered, the Comedy, which dates from 1881, remains one of the prettiest theatres In London. It was financed by owner J. H. Addison for manager and lessee Alexander Henderson, and designed by Thomas Verity, who had already built the Criterion Restaurant and Theatre on Piccadilly Circus in 1874. Verity’s valuable early experience was gained with Captain Francis Fowke, working on what was to become the Victoria and Albert Museum (1865) and the Royal Albert Hall (1871). He died in 1891 at the age of just 54, leaving his son, F. T. Verity, to carry on his architectural practice.
The front of the theatre, on its comer site with Oxenden Street, Is almost provincial in scale - reminiscent of, say, the Theatre Royal, Bristol, or the (now demolished) Theatre Royal, Leicester; of painted stone in an eclectic classical style, it originally housed a triple-arched entrance, but this has been replaced by grouped doorways In a channelled base under a mld-20th-century cantilevered canopy. The upper storeys are articulated by pilasters supporting an entablature and pediment. Between the pilasters at first-floor level are two archltraved window openings and a blind central window occupied by a draped female figure carrying a flaming torch, each under an oeil-de-boeuf.
Extensive alterations were made to the building in 1911, 1933 and again in 1955, but were generally restricted to the areas In and around the foyer and bars, leaving the three-tier iron-columned horseshoe¬shaped auditorium virtually unaltered. The square architraved proscenium is flanked by shallow bow- fronted boxes, with palmette enrichment extending along the balcony fronts. In the decorative domed celling are the remains of a gas sunbumer, a multi- flame burner which could be raised and lowered by winch from above; since the era of gaslight it has been replaced by a chandelier. Yellow and gold combined with modem lilac and gold have replaced the original white and gold decoration. The disused balcony bar, now a plant room, retains vestiges of Its 19th-century decoration, with red panels divided by yellow ochre banding on a green dado.
The theatre houses a superb array of photographs, programmes and playbills, including a programme for the first production, In October 1881, of The Mascotte, starring Miss Violet Cameron. Among more recent actors and actresses to star at the Comedy are Susannah York, the late Sir Alec Guinness, Stephanie Cole, Dame Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Maureen Lipman and Ewan McGregor. A plaque in the Royal Circle Bar records that the inaugural meeting of the Lords Taverners was held here on 3 July 1950.
1881. Theatre designed by Thomas Verity for Alexander Henderson / Statutorily Listed Historic Building: Grade II
Comedy Theatre / Royal Comedy Theatre
Eclectic classical façade on Panton Street / Three-tier cast-iron-columned horseshoe auditorium / Collection of memorabilia exhibited in the theatre