King’s Head Theatre Pub

115 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QN

This long-standing Upper Street landmark – a Victorian beauty, with huge etched windows, fresh flowers on the tables, real fires in winter and a host of black-and-white photos lining its sage green walls – has doubled as a theatre since 1970. Fondly remembered for ringing up prices in pounds shillings and pence right up until 2008, a mere 37 years after the rest of Britain had switched to decimal currency, the King’s Head is also a haven for beer-lovers, with real ales like Doom Bar and London Pride on tap. However, although plenty of regulars use it as a pub without ever setting foot in its back-room playhouse, the shows these days are impossible to ignore. In addition to new writing and intimate one-person shows, the theatre is perhaps best known nowadays for its scintillating small-scale opera productions. Anything from Puccini to Gilbert & Sullivan is staged by the award-winning company OperaUpClose. Performances are raucous affairs, regularly spilling out into the bar with divas prancing along the counter as they sing at top volume. Check the website for its ever-changing array of performances, which include free acoustic gigs in the front of house.

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