Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Theatre Royal Drury Lane – Fab Tour and Delish Afternoon Tea

Theatre Royal Drury Lane – Fab Tour and Delish Afternoon Tea

It’s been almost exactly a year since Theatre Royal Drury Lane – the oldest theatre site in London still in use – has reopened for audiences. And it looks utterly dazzling.  

If you love theatre, you will be thrilled to find out that The Lane is yet again, opened for tours, taking people up and down and to the wings of this gorgeous, now newly refurbished theatre. As my companion aptly admitted, the tour is cheesy in all the right ways. I won’t spoil what exactly makes it that entertaining – but it is much more than you’d regularly expect from a tour with a bit of, well, theatre.  

The building, now brought to its former glory by Andrew and Madeleine LLoyd Webber, looks like a dream. The earliest theatrical establishment on the site dates back to 1663 and although the building has burned down a couple of times, the site has never been completely abandoned. Its recent renovations – almost halted and massively delayed due to the pandemic – were aimed to merge its former Regency-era glory with the modern-day technological and artistic achievements. And so, gorgeous Shakespeare-inspired paintings by the contemporary oil painter Maria Kreyn decorate the staircase and lobby – the most impressive is perhaps, The Tempest: in artist’s own words, “ablaze with a fiery storm and musical dream logic”. 100-year-old stage machinery that carried underwater fights and Ben Hur chariot races was completely replaced too – sadly, though probably safely for everyone involved. 

When the tour was over, my friend and I headed to the Grand Saloon for the exquisite afternoon tea. The matinee performance of Frozen – The Lane’s current production – was just about to begin so the restaurant was not exactly crowded – but not exactly quiet either, tempting patrons with lovely, refined and somewhat high-brow ambiance.   

The attention to detail there really is remarkable – napkins are embroidered with various patterns related to the rich and long history of Theatre Drury Lane, including the (in)famous Man in Grey who is said to still haunt the auditorium and whose apparition dressed in the attire of the late 18th century foretells a long and successful run of the show. Renovations in the late 19th century led to the curious discovery of skeletal remains in a hidden room or passage behind a wall next to the royal box. The skeleton wore grey clothing—and, more disturbingly, had a knife protruding from his ribcage. Allegedly, the entire cast of Miss Saigon has seen the ghost – and Miss Saigon was the theatre’s longest-running show in history.  

Fanciful stories aside, the afternoon tea was genuinely delicious. The savoury offering consists of salmon glazed with lapsang-souchong tea and served on a madeleine (will melt in your mouth), herb canele and a very adorable sausage roll. Herb canele was particularly surprising – especially that it looks exactly like a “proper”, sweet canele, complete with “jelly” of pickled beetroot – but it naturally tasted very rich and savoury.   

Scones were as good as scones can get – fluffy, freshly baked, with salted whipped butter instead of clotted cream and mouthwatering jam. Which means really quite delicious. Patisserie turned out to be a lovely mix of very rich and sweet and citrus-y. The star was most definitely the dark chocolate cake with all sorts of goodness inside, namely biscuit crunch, salted caramel and buttercream. Lemon sorbet to finish it off was just a perfect refreshing touch. The service was excellent, too, with all servers perfectly polite and attentive at all times. Highly recommended!  

All in all – a perfect afternoon for all theatre nerds out there. Next week – which happens to be the Afternoon Tea Week – Grand Saloon will also be holding performances from a live harpist for an ultimate indulgent experience so do check them out.