Writers back bid to save Pentameters theatre
Ben Elton among famous faces sharing memories
27 August, 2020 — By Tom Foot
SOME of the country’s top writing talents have swung behind a campaign to save Pentameters Theatre.
Ben Elton, Victoria Coren Mitchell and David Hare are among those backing the fringe venue’s first appeal for funds in more than 50 years in Hampstead.
Owner Léonie Scott-Matthews has helped launch the careers of many young talents but now needs support to meet the cost of reopening after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Mr Elton recalled seeing the legendary duo Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson perform at the theatre in 1980, adding: “That night they told me they were forming a club called the Comic Strip. Great memories.”
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Only Connect quiz host Ms Coren Mitchell, who lives in Belsize Park, said: “This was the first place I ever performed stand-up comedy. [It’s] vital to the spirit and texture of Hampstead.”
Victoria Coren Mitchell
And two-time Laurence Olivier Award winner Bertie Carvel said: “Want to know what Hampstead was like when I was growing up there? Head to Pentameters – a creative place, where you meet unexpected characters. Come on, Hampstead, get your act together.”
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq described the theatre as a “national treasure”.
Pentameters is believed to be the oldest functioning theatre in the country and has been classed as an Asset of Community Value by Camden Council.
Ms Scott-Matthews was awarded a British Empire Medal in January for services to British theatre and to the community in Hampstead. An online fundraiser to “Save Pentameters” says £8,000 is needed to “cover the maintenance and the rent and keep the theatre alive”.
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