41 Earlham Street Covent Garden, London WC2H 9LX
This tiny 250-seat theatre has a reputation way beyond its size, for staging innovative productions of new work as well as artful and popular revivals. Originally opened in 1977, under the auspices of the Royal Shakespeare Company, it’s been out on its own since 1992, with Sam Mendes as artistic director for its first ten years. As a subsidised not-for-profit theatre, it’s been able to take risks, many of which have paid off commercially as well as artistically. Big-name stars drawn to the Donmar have included Nicole Kidman, whose performance in The Blue Room in 1998 was memorably hailed as being ‘pure theatrical Viagra’, and Ewan McGregor, who appeared as Iago in Othello ten years later. Musicals form a major part of the programme: Michael Grandage’s Donmar-developed breakout production of Guys and Dolls, for example, subsequently toured the world.