Friday, 27 April 2012

The Print Room

Rachel Johnson has found a new favourite place to be dramatic

Fed up of trooping up West to a theatre and sitting with your knees jammed into your chest, for an experience that – including pre-performance drinks and a jumbo box of Maltesers and "a bite" somewhere afterwards - works out as more expensive than a return flight to New York? If the answer is yes, read on.

The Print Room is new, west London theatre of aching fabulousness, set in the heart of the nicest ie Notting Hilliest part of Bayswater (not the kebab and B&B belt). When I say new, this converted factory (a large boxy room basically – the audience sit round the edge as if the action is going on in your own drawing room) opened in  September 2010 (ie yesterday in Lady mag terms).

 So far, they’ve put on a highly-acclaimed tight edit of only five plays, three art exhibitions, a festival of multi-disciplinary work (no, I’m not sure either) six concerts and something called a dance/sculpture collaboration. If you are worried this place might be trendy, I’m afraid you are in the ballpark. There’s no bar, but tickets are only £20 or so, and the thirsty can go to the pub opposite for drinks pre, during and post, as well as supper. So far, the place has been garlanded with awards, and I went to see the venue’s break out success: a performance of Uncle Vanya, Chekhov’s existential angst and thwarted romance drama, directed by Lucy Bailey.

This was, quite simply, the most sizzling thing I’ve seen on stage for a very long time. It’s partly the actors,among them the star Iain Glen in the title role and William Houston as the louche doctor Astrov, who have commanding stage presence both. But the whole cast is excellent and brilliant at managing to address four sides of the square – ie the whole room – at once, and never losing our attention. I never felt an audience so rapt.

“This is how we want to continue - staging exciting undiscovered pieces by well-known writers, and working with emerging and talented artists from all fields,” say the Print Rooms’ Lucy Bailey and Anda Winters.

The good news is that Uncle Vanya has been such a smash hit that it’s coming back 18 June-7 July. Hurry and book your tickets before they all sell out.

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