When first excavations started on the building site, an underground river was discovered to be running underneath what would become the Garrick Theatre. This wasn’t the only time the Garrick almost called it a day; in 1934 plans were made to convert it into a ‘super-cinema’ but were never seen through to the end, while a 1968 redevelopment of Covent Garden that threatened the demolition of several theatres included the Garrick Theatre.
Starting out as a venue for melodramas, a shift was made towards farces and Shakespeare plays under new management. In the 1920s the Moscow Art Theatre Company staged plays by Russian playwrights, while during the Second World War it was briefly a site for the armed forces to put on shows.
The dressing rooms of the theatre are actually separate to the auditorium itself, and performers need to go through an underground tunnel to get there. The ghost of previous manager and actor Arthur Bourchier haunts the theatre from time to time, tapping people on their backs.
In recent years though, successes at the Garrick Theatre include No Sex Please We’re British running there for four years, as well as a six-year run of An Inspector Calls that transferred from the National Theatre in the 1990s.