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Playhouse Theatre

F. H. Fowler

alias Royal Avenue Theatre, Avenue Theatre
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1882 | construction

(detail)1890 | Alteration
Redecoration by F. H. Fowler and Hill.
(detail)00. 's 20. century | Alteration
1905 beginning of auditorium rebuilding. During construction works in 1907, a wall of Charing Cross Railway Station collapsed on the building, killing six workmen. Subsequently rebuilt by Detmar Blow and Fernand Billerrey. Interior decoration by Mortimer Menpes.
(detail)1951 | closure
1951-1976 used as a radio studio by the BBC.
(detail)1987 | opening
Restored to theatre use, additional storeys completed; entrance canopy reinstated; redecorated by Graham Berry.


F. H. Fowler |main architect


The strong contrast in the Playhouse between the neat, well-mannered exterior and the demented vulgarity of the interior - the marvellous brio of the music hall sweeping into the straight theatre -arises from its curious and dramatic history. This is the building, which was originally erected in 1881-2 by Sefton Parry in the hope that the South-Eastern Railway would have to buy him out. They did not; in 1905, however, the original architect F. H. Fowler rebuilt the theatre and part of Charing Cross Station promptly fell upon it even before the first night! One of Parry's successors, Cyril Maude, got the compensation. Most of Fowler's facade remained undamaged , but new architects, Detmar Blow and Fernand Billerey, reconstructed the interior in 1906. Here we have another example of the stage box, this time demi-mondaine rather than royal, barely attached to the balconies. Intrusive walls are starting to appear, masked with illogical but highly amusing decoration.


In: Glasstone, Victor: Victorian and Edwardian Theatres: An Architectural and Social Survey. Harvard 1975 p. 114



Author: Victor Glasstone

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