Top 5 Alternative Theatre Spaces in Bristol

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Two actors perform on stage. One actor is lifting and holding the other, both with expressive, animated faces. The background shows a dimly-lit set with a few cardboard boxes and a chair. Both actors are dressed in casual attire with coats.
Goldilocks, Stock and Three Smoking Bears, The Wardrobe, Bristol. Photography: Paul Blakemore.

Bristol is a city known for its counter-cultural tendencies, and its theatre is no different. The Old Vic might suck up all the fame and headlines, but with new performance spaces popping up just about everywhere. Here are five of the best fringe theatre spaces in Bristol, showcasing some of the newest and most innovative drama, comedy and music around.

Alternative places to get your theatre fix in Bristol

The Room Above

In a secret room hidden upstairs in the White Bear pub, this cosy, 50-seat theatre is host to regular comedy and theatre performances. The previous home of Wardrobe Theatre, the space has since been taken over by some lively-minded young theatre-crats who have painted and rearranged with a vengeance. With its official opening party yet to come, The Room Above is both one to respect for its history and for its future yet to arrive. And it's always the perfect place to be able to grab a pint downstairs in the interval.

Every Other Sunday, The Room Above, Bristol. Photographer: Sam Patchings.

The White Bear pub is located at 133 St. Michael's Hill. Information on The Room Above's performances can be found online.

The Bierkeller

At the heart of Bristol both geographically and artistically, the Bierkeller plays host to both gig nights and theatre nights. With its dark, underground feel it often finds itself attracting more dramatic theatre, in recent times putting on productions like Seliges Theatre’s Macbeth and Becky Fitzgerald’s Amnesia. The Bierkeller is also a known home for experimental student theatre.

The Bierkeller can be found on All Saints Street. For information on music and theatre performances, please see online.

The Redcliffe Caves

Bristol never fails to surprise, and the Redcliffe Caves achieves this almost entirely from its location: right in the centre of the city. In reality more ‘mines’ than ‘caves’, this web of underground tunnels was originally excavated for the red sandstone rock that went on to make glass and bottles. These days the caves are a tourist attraction in their own right, as well as a venue for art installations and theatre performances: on three recent occasions they have hosted productions for the city’s annual Shakespeare Festival, the Bristol Film Festival and storytellers for the Bristol Literary Festival. Definitely worth a visit if underground and atmospheric venues are your thing.

Information on The Redcliffe Caves' tours and performances are available online.

The Loco Klub

You’d be hard pressed to find a more atmospheric and innovative venue than the Loco Klub. This fascinating space is moulded from the remnants of the old railway social club at Temple Meads train station, making it superbly convenient for those visiting from elsewhere. Although still getting fully up and running after a recent opening, it has thus far played host to productions such as In Your Face and King’s Head Theatre’s ‘Trainspotting’, which received rave reviews, and promises to host a whole variety of arts events and performances. This is a space to watch out for.

For information on The Loco Klub's performances, see online.

The Wardrobe

Since moving from its old home at the White Bear in 2015, The Wardrobe Theatre has revamped with an exciting new space in the Old Market Assembly on West Street. This intimate-feeling yet surprisingly open space is an ideal venue for everything from stand-up comedy to serious theatre and children’s shows - all of which it regularly hosts. With a remarkable turnover of shows and a comedy night every Friday, there’s a bit of everything for everyone in a space as charming and exciting as this.

Beyond The Ridiculous, The Wardrobe, Bristol. Photography: Paul Blakemore.

For full listings of The Wardrobe Theatre's performances, see online.