Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate
The Mercury Theatre was a small theatre in Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill Gate
Notting Hill Gate
Notting Hill Gate is one of the main thoroughfares of Notting Hill, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Historically the street was a location for toll gates, from which it derives its modern name.- Location :...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, notable for the productions of poetic dramas between 1933 and 1956, and as the home of the Ballet Rambert
Rambert Dance Company
Rambert Dance Company, is a leading British dance company. Formed at the start of the 20th century as a classical ballet company, it would exert a great deal of influence on the development of dance in the United Kingdom, and today, as a contemporary dance company, it continues to be one of the...

 until 1987.


The Mercury Theatre was opened in 1933 by Ashley Dukes
Ashley Dukes
Ashley Dukes was an English playwright, critic, and theatre manager.In 1933, he founded the Mercury Theatre of London and wrote plays that appeared in the London West End and on Broadway...

 for the production of new drama and to serve as a centre for the Ballet Rambert
Rambert Dance Company
Rambert Dance Company, is a leading British dance company. Formed at the start of the 20th century as a classical ballet company, it would exert a great deal of influence on the development of dance in the United Kingdom, and today, as a contemporary dance company, it continues to be one of the...

, run by his wife Marie Rambert
Marie Rambert
Dame Marie Rambert DBE was a Polish-Jewish dancer and dance pedagogue who exerted a great influence on British ballet, both as a dancer and teacher.- Early years and background :...

. The building, at 2, Ladbroke Road, London W11, had been built in 1851, but was extensively altered to serve as a theatre. It was a well-equipped but small venue, seating about 150.

The style was set by the first production, Jupiter Translated, an adaptation of Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

's Amphitryon
Amphitryon (Molière)
Amphitryon is a French language comedy in a prologue and 3 Acts by Molière which is based on the story of the Greek mythological character Amphitryon as told by Plautus in his play from ca. 190-185 B.C. The play was first performed at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris on 13 January 1668...

with a ballet by Rupert Doone
Rupert Doone
Rupert Doone was an English dancer, choreographer, theatre director, and teacher....

 as entr'acte.. The theatre's reputation was established in 1935 by the first London productions of T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

's Murder in the Cathedral
Murder in the Cathedral
Murder in the Cathedral is a verse drama by T. S. Eliot that portrays the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, first performed in 1935...

, transferred from Canterbury, and two years later by Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

 and Isherwood
Christopher Isherwood
Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood was an English-American novelist.-Early life and work:Born at Wyberslegh Hall, High Lane, Cheshire in North West England, Isherwood spent his childhood in various towns where his father, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, was stationed...

's poetic play The Ascent of F6
The Ascent of F6
The Ascent of F6: A Tragedy in Two Acts, by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, was the second play in the Auden-Isherwood collaboration, first published in 1936...


1943 saw the production of Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...

's Days Without End. The Pilgrim Players' seasons in 1945-1947, under the direction of E. Martin Browne
E. Martin Browne
E. Martin Browne was a British theatre director, known for his production of twentieth century verse plays. He collaborated for many years with T. S...

, consolidated the position of poetic drama at the Mercury with such productions as Norman Nicholson
Norman Nicholson
Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson OBE, , was an English poet, known for his association with the Cumberland town of Millom...

's The Old Man of the Mountains, Ronald Duncan
Ronald Duncan
Ronald Duncan was a writer, poet and playwright, now best known for preparing the libretto for Benjamin Britten's opera The Rape of Lucretia, first performed in 1946....

's This Way to the Tomb and Anne Ridler
Anne Ridler
Anne Barbara Ridler OBE was a British poet, and Faber and Faber editor, selecting the Faber A Little Book of Modern Verse with T. S. Eliot . Her Collected Poems were published in 1994...

's The Shadow Factory. These were followed by comedies in verse: Christopher Fry
Christopher Fry
Christopher Fry was an English playwright. He is best known for his verse dramas, notably The Lady's Not for Burning, which made him a major force in theatre in the 1940s and 1950s.-Early life:...

's A Phoenix too Frequent and Donagh MacDonagh
Donagh MacDonagh
Donagh MacDonagh was an Irish writer, judge, presenter, broadcaster, and playwright.-His private life:He was born in Dublin and was still a young child when his father Thomas MacDonagh, an Irish nationalist and poet, was executed in 1916.Tragedy struck again when his mother died of a heart attack...

's Happy as Larry.

In 1947 Saroyan
William Saroyan
William Saroyan was an Armenian American dramatist and author. The setting of many of his stories and plays is the center of Armenian-American life in California in his native Fresno.-Early years:...

's The Beautiful People and O'Neill's SS Glencairn both had their London premières there, as did Genet
Jean Genet
Jean Genet was a prominent and controversial French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but later took to writing...

's The Maids
The Maids
The Maids is a play by the French dramatist Jean Genet. It was first performed at the Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris in a production that opened on 17 April 1947, which Louis Jouvet directed...

. In the early 1950s it was home to "Ballet Workshop" and from 1956 was used mainly by the Ballet Rambert School until finally closed in 1987. The theatre and the Ballet Rambert appear in Powell and Pressburger
Powell and Pressburger
The British film-making partnership of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, also known as The Archers, made a series of influential films in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1981 they were recognized for their contributions to British cinema with the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award, the most prestigious...

's 1948 film The Red Shoes.
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