Theatreland Tour with Ian McKellen
St Martins and the Ivy
Turn left here and keep walking.
Now I want you to walk on the right hand side of the street. You’re right in front of St. Martins Theatre on your right.
Stop here while I tell you about it.
This is now the home of the longest running play in history. The Mousetrap, a thriller by Agatha Christie. It’s been performed over 25,000 times. Each year, the actors change, so, don’t be fooled by the reviews posted outside. Some of them are 60 years old.
Now, if you look up the street, beyond St Martin's Theatre, you'll spot another theatre, The Ambassadors.
In fact, this is the theatre where the Mousetrap was first performed in 1952. Not a bad run. Though I could add that Ambassadors and St Martins are both very small theatres. And as every actor knows, the secret to a long run is a very small theatre.
Alright, lets get going again.
Keep going down West Street on the right-hand side.
As you walk, take a look back at the building across the road , on your left.
See the stained glass windows that cover every floor? Behind these stained glass windows are the Ivy Restaurant and the Ivy Club. The Ivy’s been a haunt of actors and directors and theatre people and audiences for many years... if they can get a table, that is.
The restaurant opened in 1917 but it got its name a few years after that. The owner was apologising to a customer about building works outside. He was worried people would stop coming to his restaurant. But the actress Alice Delysia overheard this and put his mind at rest.
“We will always come and see you” she said. We will cling together like ivy.”
Keep walking straight ahead. And soon you’ll be rewarded with a view of one of the most impressive theatres in the West End, Palace Theatre.