Criterion Theatre Archive

Current Show: The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

The mid-1990s at the Criterion Theatre saw the arrival of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a three member acting company that specialised in presented reduced or abridged productions. They opened in March 1996 with two shows - The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) with one-performance-a-week of The Complete History of America (Abridged). In January 2003 they then also included The Bible - The Complete Word of God (Abridged) for one-performance-a-week, before the shows closed in April 2005, making way for a Amajuba: Like Doves We Rise - Yael Farber staging of real-life stories of black South Africans growing up under apartheid which run for a strictly limited three week season.

In June 2005 Gregory Murphy's The Countess set in Victorian England in the mid-1850s opened. The play concerned the relationships between the art critic John Ruskin, his wife Effie, and the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. Though the play had run for over 630 performances in New York, this West End production, directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser who had also directed the New York production, only managed a run of barely 40 performances before closing early in July 2005. Later that same month the children's show Gruffalo was presented for a five week summer holiday season with morning and afternoon performances.

David Grindley's revival of Joe Orton's classic farce What the Butler Saw transferred here in August 2005, following a successful season at the Hampstead Theatre and this was followed in October 2005 by the first West End revival of Simon Gray's comedy Otherwise Engaged starring Richard E. Grant and Anthony Head which enjoyed a three month season. In April 2006 John Doyle's revival of the Jerry Herman musical Mack and Mabel transferred here following a run at the small Watermill Theatre in Berkshire. Using John Doyle's now familiar technique of actors playing instruments, the show, set in 1920s Hollywood, featured David Soul as the director 'Mack Sennett' and Janie Dee as and his star and lover, the comedienne 'Mabel Normand'. Interestingly David Soul was the only company member not playing an instrument. The production, hailed on opening night by the composer Jerry Herman as being "the definitive Mack and Mabel," sadly closed after just under three months.

In September 2006, following a successful sell-out season at The Tricycle Theatre in North West London, Maria Aitken's stage production of John Buchan's The 39 Steps, and based on the Alfred Hitchcock film, opened here at the Criterion Theatre. Using just four actors to play all the roles, the production won the Olivier Award for 'Best New Comedy' and continued to play here for an amazing run of nine years making it one of this theatre's longest running shows. During this time the children's television character Peppa Pig was a regular visitor, presenting day-time performances of her various shows each Christmas from 2010 through to 2014. In October 2015 the Burt Bacharach 'jukebox' musical Close to You: Burt Bacharach Reimagined transferred for a four-and-a-half month run, following an acclaimed run at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Following this in February 2016 was a three week run of the comedy Nina Conti in her show Nina Conti: In Your Face. In April the new show The Comedy About A Bank Robbery opened here at the Criterion Theatre, and looks like it might continue here for some time yet, though the show did take a two week 'cast holiday' September 2016 during which time Nina Conti returned with her show. During December 2016 the children's show Mr Popper's Penguins played a two week season of morning and lunchtime performances.