London’s newest major theatre, The Bridge, is a conscious departure from traditional West End venues that have often failed to adapt to the access requirements of modern audiences. The Bridge was founded in 2017 by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, both former directors at the National Theatre who wanted a modern commercial theatre committed to new writing. As one would expect from a new build with a £12 million budget, the priority was “to answer the needs of contemporary audiences and theatre-makers” alike. But what does this mean in terms of Access?
The extraordinary 900-seat adaptable auditorium has modular seating and a stage that can be changed to suit the production. This kind of structural flexibility accommodates wheelchairs and potentially large numbers of disabled audience members. There are reserved seats and wheelchair spaces for those who’ve signed up to the Access List: sign up here before booking to select seats at a concessionary rate of £25 each for you and a companion. There’s step-free access to the stalls and Gallery 2, but not Gallery 3, so hopefully there’s some choice in terms of seating – if you book tickets via the Access List, do let us know about your seating options.
The website’s Access Page has a lot of info addressing a range of access requirements and facilities in-depth. There’s an info page for visually impaired people with details of scheduled audio described performances. Likewise there’s a page for deaf and hearing impaired people which lists scheduled captioned performances and hearing loop details.
The sleek design of The Bridge’s front of house and the surrounding Tower Bridge development is compatible with wheelchairs; there are smooth floors, wide doorways and cavernous spaces with clear pathways throughout. There’s a taxi drop-off point 1 minute walk from the entrance and disabled parking bays nearby. The stylish bar area has great food and wine by St John and is open to non-theatre goers, so I recommend if you’re looking for somewhere to have a coffee or lunch in the London Bridge area.
As for the toilet facilities…not a bad effort. I couldn’t find fault with the most important features; multiple grab rails, plenty of space and a wide enough door that opens either way. However the lighting may be too dim for partially sighted guests and there’s a baby change facility which could have been placed in a different loo.
I’m pleased to add The Bridge Theatre to Fiona’s list of the best accessible theatres in London. It wins 3 BBS Ticks for investing in positive and comfortable theatre going experiences for all.
Have you visited The Bridge? If so, tell us what you think, contact us here and tell the theatre as well! They welcome any comments and suggestions about accessibility and their programme. Email your thoughts and experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 0333 320 0051.