The London Stage in the 20th Century

Robert Tanitch

‘[A] vast and magnificent book.’
The New Statesman

‘Mr Tanitch’s widespread knowledge and enthusiasm gives this book an extraordinary luster.’
Amateur Stage


The London Stage is an encyclopaedic view of the plays, players, and performers of London’s West End throughout the last century. No other city anywhere on earth came close to rivalling London in terms of the volume and quality of its theatrical productions between 1900 and 2000.

This was the century that established the city’s reputation and this volume charts in fine detail the productions that saw this rise to dominance. Poignantly, as the passing years ushered in the age of new media, it also became the century that witnessed the dimming appeal of theatre and theatrical life.

Robert Tanitch’s widespread knowledge and enthusiasm give this book an extraordinary lustre. The entries are enlivened by quotes from the most acerbic reviewers of their age, observing the triumph and occasionally the disasters at first hand. The illustrative material included in the book evokes a clear sense of the passing epochs, revealing the changing styles from the furiously busy early decades of the century to the critical successes of the post-war years, and on the rise of the musical towards the end of the century.

No serious follower of the London theatre will be able to resist the temptation of this book and the compendium of knowledge and information it contains.

ROBERT TANITCH is one of London’s foremost theatrical critics and biographers. His career arches across many decades and his reviews of current West End productions are still published weekly throughout the London media. His acclaimed biographies have included among their subjects John Gielgud, John Mills, Peggy Ashcroft, Dirk Bogarde and Clint Eastwood.

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