Interested in visiting the theatre while you’re in Exeter? There are a number of venues for you to choose from. Here we’ve boiled them down to focus on two of the biggest and best in the city – the Exeter Corn Exchange and Northcott Theatre Exeter. Although that’s not to say that they’re the only ones that deserve your time.
The Exeter Barnfield Theatre is a hidden gem in the heart of the city that hosts wonderful plays and boasts perfect acoustics. Completely independent, there’s a family feel to their purist approach to theatre.
The Bike Shed Theatre is a 50-seater theatre found at the end of an alley in the renovated basement of a bike shop. From humble beginnings, it’s grown a huge reputation around the city for its onward-looking theatre programme.
The Cygnet Theatre also deserves an honourable mention as both a working theatre company and drama school. You can catch The Cygnet’s students performing to a professional standard throughout the year.
It may not look like much from the outside, but we wouldn’t expect a glitzy exterior from a building that used to be the trading point for local grain farmers. But, as we all know, it’s what’s inside that counts. Enter the Exeter Corn Exchange and you’ll find yourself in the largest entertainment venue in the city that’s hosted audiences of up to 500 theatregoers with acts ranging from Cinderella to The Circus of Horrors.
Whether it’s theatre, ballet, panto, comedy or concerts that you’re looking for, the programme at the Exeter Corn Exchange is certainly a mixed bag, and surely has something that’ll take your fancy. And if that’s not enough, it also hosts regular dance classes and a comedy club night on the first Friday of every month that’ll have you rolling in the aisles.
Located less than a 10-minute walk, or a five-minute drive, from our Exeter City Centre hotel, you can find the Exeter Corn Exchange on Market Street. If you are driving, then you can try your luck with on-street parking. Your best bet, however, is the car parks on Smythen Street and Mary Arches Street, the latter being the larger with nearly 500 spaces, and both being just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Corn Exchange.
As you’d expect, the venue itself has a fully licensed bar but if you’re looking for somewhere to wet your whistle before you arrive, then head to The Beer Cellar around the corner and opposite the cathedral on North Street. Or, if it’s a cocktail you’re craving, then try The Bike Shed Theatre on Fore Street. Beyond being an intimate, award-winning theatre in its own right, they’re also masters of mixing drinks, having previously been named ‘Best Watering Hole’ (and ‘Best Arts Venue’) in Exeter.
After Exeter’s Theatre Royal was demolished in the ’60s (to make way for an office block, “The horror! The horror!”), the Northcott Theatre Exeter was quickly founded to take its place as the city’s ‘flagship professional theatre’. Ever since its opening night’s portrayal of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the Northcott’s specially designed auditorium has continued to stage some of the finest in-house productions in the south-west, as well as acclaimed touring companies invited from the rest of the UK.
Due to an inherent desire to push new writing and creative direction, the Northcott Theatre’s programme has developed over the years – going far beyond the classics to cover modern plays including This Is My Body, a one-woman play about a Romanian prostitute, and Harold Pinter’s Betrayal that’s equally frank, brutal and brilliant from the Nobel Prize-winning playwright.
Located on the Streatham Campus of the University of Exeter, the Northcott Theatre Exeter is just a seven-minute drive from our nearest Exeter Central St. Davids hotel. The theatre underwent a £2.1 million renovation in 2007, increasing its capacity to 464 seats, refurbishing its foyer and other public areas, and ensuring full disabled access.
A popular destination for business travellers and tourists alike, Exeter is located in the heart of the beautiful South West region of England - and if you're planning a visit, our Exeter hotels make an ideal base.
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