Shenton and Coveney have been writing about their favourite theatres and both drawn up lists of 10 (although my idea of an actual list is below). Both seem to have plenty of grand old theatres in their top choices which doesn't much surprise me but my choices reflect primarily view and comfort as well as the productions and ticket price (naturally the latter won't bother the critics).
You won't find any grand old theatres on my list because a) I just don't like them, for many reasons and b) they are expensive and therefore I go to them rarely.
Anyway here is my list:
1. Olivier Theatre
I'm being specific because I passionately detest the Lyttleton for reasons I've waxed lyrical about before. Olivier stage is like a magic box, you never know what is going to come out of it next. It also also home to the cheap seats with the fab view because of its raked seating.
2. Royal Court
An old theatre that works but probably because it was ripped apart during a refurb. Comfortable leather seats with good views (except upstairs on the sides). Tickets on a Monday are a tenner and there is always something interesting coming up. Oh and the cafe bar is the best theatre hang out in London. And I was reminded by @VeggieV on Twitter that another reason the Royal Court is so great is that programmes are also play texts.
Small but perfectly formed it attracts some great names and is possibly the only theatre in London you can take a mug of tea into the auditorium with you.
Punches well above its weight, this tiny theatre continually puts on interesting stuff and regularly sells out. Must go more.
5. Southwark Playhouse
Full of atmosphere under the arches at London Bridge, I'm always intrigued by what configuration they are going to have the stage in next. Then there is the innovative airline ticketing system and the subscription service which means regular visitors like myself can still afford to eat a square meal every day. Plays are sometimes a bit hit and miss but when you've only paid £7 you can afford to take a risk in seeing something different.
Although getting tickets can raise the stress levels and every year there is one dud, you can't beat the Donmar for quality and putting some of the biggest and best acting names in such close proximity. It's also a top celeb spot haunt for those of us who get excited by these things. With the Royal Court it's a theatre where I regularly book to see everything.
7. Hampstead Theatre
OK so it has a special connection with a certain person but it is also a lovely theatre which isn't afraid to put on something a little bit different or mess around with the stage on occasions. It also has nice leather sofas on which to enjoy a good pre-theatre chin wag.
8. Red Lion Theatre
I've only been to this tiny pub theatre once but its production of Mercury Fur blew me away. It's early days but potentially an even petiter Finborough.
9. Sheffield Crucible
I don't get out of London to the theatre as often as I'd like (not being young enough to qualify for cheap train fares doesn't help) but Sheffield is somewhere I do like to visit whenever I can. I've only ever visited the Crucible which has two great performance spaces and great space everywhere else - the benefits of the modern theatre, no elbowing your way to the loos. I always admire its programme enviously knowing I'm not going to see all that it has to offer.
10. Soho Theatre
Again another theatre that isn't afraid to experiment. It has fabulous raked seating - a boon to those economical of height like myself - and I'm a fan of unallocated seating so I can always get close to the front. It also has a special connection for me as it was the first place I saw Mr W.
Since publishing this fellow theatre blogger Glen has published his own list which you can find over on his blog. It's already reminded me of a couple I've not included which arguably should be on their, the Young Vic which is another great, flexible performance space and a nice lively cafe bar and the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. Maybe they'll make it onto the next one.