Marvellous. That’s how I’d describe the first major West End theatre to be built in the last fifty years. Standing proudly on the newly christened Soho Place, replacing the site where the Astoria Theatre once stood, Soho Place (branded @sohoplace) is the first major West End theatre (and restaurant and bar!) to be built in half a century. Below, I will outline why I truly believe this sensational new venue will soon be on everyone’s wishlist.
What is Soho Place?
Over a decade ago, theatre mogul Nica Burns began asking theatregoers what they would wish for if they could create a brand new theatre from scratch. Again and again, they all responded with the same answers; comfy seats, no restricted views, a beautiful building, and great shows to go in it. Over the twelve years it took to create, this dream has now become a reality. It’s simultaneously a theatre with over 600 capacity, a ground floor bar specialising in wine and cocktails and a British-fusion restaurant.
Is Soho Place accessible?
Soho Place is one of the most accessible theatres in the West End, and boasts not one but two lifts, access toilets on all levels and the option of a larger bench-style seat, if requested.
What is Soho Place like to visit?
From the moment you are greeted by friendly staff at the front door, you are immediately under the blanket of thousands of stars. Lights, gems, and projections of the night sky instantly lift your mood. Inspired by ancient Greek theatre performed under the stars, you know you are in for a magical evening. From here, you can see the small but perfectly formed Stars Restaurant, which spills over into the generously proportioned wine and cocktail bar.
The staff couldn’t have been more friendly and getting around between different sections of the theatre was so easy, compared to older theatres where tall marble staircases can put some people off, especially when attending the theatre with children, elderly family members or those with some access needs. The bathrooms were also beautifully decorated with a separate door for IN and OUT, allowing for much quicker queues for women at the interval! Overall, this is a venue worth visiting on its own merit, even before you take the current show playing in to account.
What is the food like at Soho Place?
After a little exploring of the new venue, we were seated at our table right away in Stars Restaurant. The continental crockery, comfortable plush seating and twinkling lights overhead provide a calming ambience compared to the hustle and bustle you can see outdoors through the floor to ceiling glass windows. Then came the food. I ask you, where else in Theatreland can you get a three course dinner for £25 that isn’t pizza or pasta? Head Chef Constantin Apostu has put together a perfect pre-theatre menu with an ideal balance of quality and cost.
I had the avocado salad, Stars burger and truffle fries, a baked vanilla cheesecake and all were superb. Their cocktail and wine list is curated so well that anything you order will complement the food and the quality of your surroundings (I particularly recommend trying their own creation, The Cosmologist!) If you are seeing a show, make sure to book in advance as it fills up fast. It also makes an ideal location for a pre-show dinner or drink if you are seeing shows in the nearby Prince Edward Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, or Dominion Theatre. The restaurant is open 5pm-11pm, Tuesday-Saturday.
What is the auditorium like at Soho Place?
A calming voice from a tannoy lets us know when the house was open so we could take our seats. Sitting in the First Balcony, the proximity to the stage is the first thing you notice. Every seat in this theatre really is good. As the space is currently configured in the round, and the capacity is just over 600, this is intimate theatre done on a grand scale. It’s a tried and tested configuration, as the design for this theatre was based on the first purpose built in-the-round theatre in Europe (The New Vic Theatre, Staffordshire.) That’s not to say the auditorium is old-fashioned, though. Decked out in plush velvet, gold and marble, it’s ultra modern, yet warm and inviting. This is not the cramped and inaccessible West End theatre of yesteryear.
We sat in the First Balcony and on this level, there are also four two-seat-wide bench seats, which continue the commitment to accessibility shown throughout the venue. We sat in standard seats and still found we had a good amount of legroom and great acoustics, even without microphones. The First and Second Balconies only have two rows so if you have previously though Balcony was a synonym for nosebleed seat – think again!
What is on at Soho Place?
The venue’s opening show, Marvellous, was just that. A heartwarming and uplifting play by the New Vic, it celebrates the life of beloved clown and Stoke FC personality, Neil Baldwin. Written by Baldwin & Malcolm Clarke, it playfully shows off the four walkways leading to the stage, as well as the moveable stage itself! Writer and director Theresa Heskins allows several different cast members to become Neil at different times in his life. Through careful direction and a comedically-talented cast, the pacing is as chipper as the man it portrays.
So what’s in the pipeline for the newest theatre on the block? At time of writing, there are already two brand new high profile productions in coming up. Firstly, Shakespeare’s As You Like It coming up in December & January. This production will be directed by Josie Rourke, and will star Rose Ayling-Ellis and Martha Plimpton just to name a few stars. Then from February to April 2023, a new production of Euripides’ Medea is to be directed by Dominic Cooke, starring Sophie Okonedo and Ben Daniels. If these two productions are anything to go by, we can expect theatre classics presented in new and exciting ways with actors at the top of their game starring. We can’t wait to see what they announce next!
How much does dinner and a show at Soho Place cost
The value of Soho Place cannot be overstated. For dinner, we availed of their 3 course Speedy Set Menu (£25) which has some delicious options. If you wanted to get the maximum value for money, you could go for their 2 course Speedy Set menu (£20) and SeatPlan’s tickets (£20), one large glass of wine (£9.50), making your dinner, drinks and theatre trip come in at a cool £49.50. I however went with my partner for a special occasion and we both had a three course dinner with mixologist-made drinks, followed by another two large drinks at the interval and this all came to £87.28 which included a well-deserved 12.5% service charge for dinner.
When choosing our tickets, we researched what the view was going to be like on SeatPlan, where there are already lots of photos to see this incredible venue before you go. We got two seats in the second row of the First Balcony for £20 each, which was a West End bargain!
Altogether, our entire night out including two West End tickets, a 3 course dinner, one cocktail, three large glasses of wine worked out at £63.64 pp – which anywhere else in the West End would usually be the price of one person’s ticket. I will certainly be back for the value, the ambience and the quality of production. This is the best value for money for a stagey night out in the West End, and that is more important now than ever.
Have you been to Soho Place?
We would love to hear what you thought of your first visit to Soho Place. Drop a comment below to be part of the conversation about this stunning, exciting new West End venue.