Lifting the curtain on London's fringe theatres.
Pleasance viewed from North Road
The Pleasance is located in a theatrical no-man's land in N7, but don't let that put you off popping along to see what treats they serve up. The theatre is a short walk from Caledonian Road tube station, served by the 393 bus and situated in a small mews that has a bar and sandwich shop which seem a world away from the surrounding area.
Opening its doors in 1995, the Pleasance is a relatively recent arrival to London's thriving fringe theatre scene, but made a massive impact on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival long before. Every summer, for one month, the theatre decamps to Edinburgh, where it's fair to say the Pleasance Courtyard is one of the main hubs of the festival. With 25 theatre spaces and over 200 shows plus 9 bars you can see why. The list of performers (and particularly comedians) who have performed there reads like a 'Who's Who' in entertainment.
Pleasance Islington, which receives no public subsidy and is reliant on the generous donations of businesses, organisations and philanthropic individuals, has two theatre spaces. The main one with 289 seats is pretty massive by fringe standards, but they also have a smaller studio that is more in keeping with the room above a pub kind of theatre we're used to in London. There are also a couple of rehearsals spaces and a cosy bar. The Pleasance trademark cheerful yellow dominates the complex.
The theatre remit is to provide a platform for the talent of the future and it has showcased many of the comedians, actors, directors and writers who are now household names. You'll often find that comedians trying out new material will do so at the Pleasance, and on selected dates between October and December you will find the brilliant Mark Thomas talking about a recent ramble he undertook in the Middle East.
The Pleasance also caters for kids, as with the Big Day Out they had in July, and this Christmas is no exception with Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play which will undoubtedly keep many a little person entertained during the holidays.
By Jonnie Fielding