Currently home to: The End of Longing
Built by Sefton Henry Parry as the Royal Avenue Theatre, it opened on 11 March 1882. For much of this time, the low comedian Arthur Roberts, a popular star of the music halls, starred at the theatre. By the 1890s, the theatre was presenting drama, and in 1894 Annie Horniman, the tea heiress, anonymously sponsored the actress Florence Farr in a season of plays at the theatre. Farr’s first production was unsuccessful, and so she prevailed upon her friend, George Bernhard Shaw, to hurry and make his West End début at the theatre with Arms and the Man in 1894. It was successful enough to allow him to discontinue music criticism to focus full-time on play writing.
The theatre was rebuilt in 1905 to the designs of Blow and Billerey. During the work, part of the roof of the adjacent Charing Cross railway station collapsed. The roof and girders fell across the train lines but part of the station’s western wall also fell and crashed through the roof and wall of the theatre. This resulted in the deaths of three people in the station, and three workmen on the theatre site and injuries to many more. The theatre was repaired and re-opened as The Playhouse on 28 January 1907.