The Criterion Theatre is a subterranean Victorian glory which began life as a music hall in 1874. It survived two world wars, avoided being turned into offices in the seventies, and underwent a complete renovation in the early nineties.
In 2011, its current show, the inventive comedy production of The 39 Steps celebrates its fifth birthday and Stephen Fry has just become chair of the trustees of the Criterion Theatre Trust. So its very timely to announce an exciting new programme of events under the banner of Criterion Presents, making the most of this beautiful theatre space around its flagship production.
CRITICS AT THE CRI is a live lunchtime review show featuring eminent critics in a panel discussion. The first one features Michael Coveney (WhatsonStage), Patrick Marmion (Daily Mail), Clemency Burton-Hill (The Culture Show) and special guest Gary Kemp reviewing: Grief by Mike Leigh, Rock of Ages the Musical and Playboy of the Western World. The show starts at 1.15pm and lasts 45 minutes - ideal for an edifying lunchbreak. Tickets are just £7.50 (£5.00 equity/students - available in person from the Criterion box office).
LUNCHTIMES WITH.... is another one you can eat your lunch in (crisps inadvisable!) and enjoy one on one interviews with actors and actresses, currently performing in London’s West End. You can even put your own questions to them. The series kicks off with Mark Rylance on Thursday 10 November at 1.15pm. Tickets £12.50 (£10 equity/students - available in person from the Criterion box office).
STORIES BEFORE BEDTIME is storytelling for grown ups with dressing up encouraged and the first one has a Halloween flavour with ghost stories on Friday 28 October. Mark Gatiss (League of Gentlemen) will be reading E.F.Benson and Tim McInnerney (Notting Hill, Blackadder) reads M R James. Starts 10.30pm, tickets £12.50 (£10 equity/students - available in person from the Criterion box office).
THE HORNE SECTION is also moving into Saturday nights providing live jazz and comedy entertainment from 10.30pm. Special guests for the first show on Saturday 8 October are Tim Key and Peter Serafinowicz. Tickets £15-20.
SHOWSTOPPER THE IMPROVISED MUSICAL takes up residency on Friday nights from 10.30pm starting on 4 November and you can look forward to a live literature extravaganza on Friday 25 November with BOOKSLAM at the Cri (tickets for both going on sale soon).
Like the sound of that lot? You could win tickets to one of these fabulous events plus a pair of tickets to The 39 Steps through the power of your words. Taking Critics at the Cri as your inspiration, send us a 100 word review of any London show. We'll put the ten best to The Culture Show presenter, Clemency Burton-Hill and she'll pick a winner who can then pick a Criterion Presents show to see and - if you wish - to review it for Londonist.
Email your entry to hello@Londonist.com, subject line: Critics at the Cri. Good luck!
Closing date: Wednesday 5 October 2011. Winner will be notified by email.