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National Theatre - Olivier London

About the National Theatre - Olivier

The Olivier Theatre is the largest of the three stages within the National Theatre complex on London’s South Bank. The complex is a bold, concrete construction that incorporates elements of Brutalist architecture and industrial 1960s design. The Olivier is named after the National Theatre’s first Artistic Director, legendary stage and screen actor Laurence Olivier. Olivier himself directed the first production to open the National Theatre; Hamlet starring Peter O’Toole in the title role.

The Olivier is unique in its use of the ‘drum revolve’, a giant rotating stage with elevators that allows complicated pieces of scenery to be erected on the stage within seconds and creates breath-taking set pieces to enhance each production.

In recent years the Olivier has hosted productions including War Horse, Danny Boyle’s re-imagining of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors starring James Corden and Anaïs Mitchell's musical Hadestown, all of which met with great critical acclaim.

Plan your visit

The Olivier Theatre opens around 30 minutes before the show starts. The National Theatre box office opens from 9:30am on Monday-Saturday.
There is no specific dress code at the National Theatre. Patrons should wear attire that is comfortable and appropriate for the occasion.
Yes, the National Theatre is fully air-conditioned, including the Olivier Theatre auditorium.
A free cloakroom service is available for ticket-holders, from 90 minutes before the show starts. Any bags or rucksacks larger than 30 x 30 x 15cm must be left in the cloakroom and cannot be taken into the auditorium. Only folding bikes can be stored in the cloakroom. If you have a non-folding bike, there are many bike racks near the National Theatre, the Transport for London has a cycle parking map tool. The theatre requests that patrons avoiding bringing large bags or suitcases to the theatre.
Security staff will be completing bag checks upon entry to the National Theatre and a ticket check will occur on entry to the Olivier Theatre auditorium, so patrons are encouraged to arrive early to allow plenty of time.
From a quick coffee at the Espresso Bar and a delicious burger at the Kitchen Cafe, to a pre-show fine dining experience at House Restaurant & Bar and a post-show pint at the Understudy Pub, the National Theatre has a place to eat and drink for everyone. There are also several bars at the Olivier Theatre, one on each level of the auditorium.
The Olivier Theatre is located on the Southbank where there are plenty of restaurants and pubs to take advantage of a pre-show dinner. Chain restaurants including Wahaca, Wagamama and Pret a Manger are a five-minute walk away. If you're visiting the National Theatre on a Friday-Sunday, head to the Southbank Food Market for some delicious street food, also just a five-minute walk away.
For a five star hotel experience, try the Autograph Collection's Bankside Hotel, which is just a 10-minute walk away. This boutique hotel has plenty of stellar amenities and is perfectly located for exploring London's landmarks. For a more budget option, take a look at the Premier Inn London County Hall hotel, which is a five-minute walk from the theatre.
The Olivier Theatre is one of the three original theatres built as part of the National Theatre complex in 1976, designed by the architect Denys Lasdun. The Olivier Theatre is named after the founder of the National Theatre, legendary British actor Sir Laurence Olivier. The theatre is modelled on an ancient Greek amphitheatre and has a fan-shaped auditorium, its design ensures that there are no restricted views from any seat in the theatre. Alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House, it is one of the most prominent publicly funded performing arts venues in the UK.

Help booking tickets

Ticket collection for shows at the Olivier Theatre is available around one hour before the performance starts at the box office on the second-floor foyer of the National Theatre building. We recommend that patrons arrive as early as possible to avoid queues and allow enough time to enter the auditorium. Please ensure to bring your confirmation email and your ID.
The box office in the entrance foyer of the National Theatre opens from 9:30am on Monday-Saturday and remains open until 11pm, when the building closes. Tickets for shows at the Olivier Theatre can be collected here or booked for future performances. A special Olivier Theatre box office opens around one hour before performances start in the second-floor foyer of the building.
The National Theatre box office can be contacted by calling 020 7452 3000.
STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers) are the industry body that regulates the sale of London theatre tickets. When booking from a company you can check their ticket seller database to see if they are registered and conforming to STAR practices. When buying online, you should also check for the padlock in your browser URL bar to ensure the connection is secure.
The National Theatre has a range of spaces available for private hire, from its auditoriums to its bars, rooftops and meeting rooms. For full details of pricing and what the theatre can offer, please email hospitalityevents@nationaltheatre.org.uk.
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