National Theatre’s Propstore Cafe – Pop-Up built from Props

The thriving culture of pop-up bars and restaurants has taken hold of London Southbank’s already vibrant scene. Included is Propstore café, an extension of the National Theatre, coinciding with the ‘Watch this Space’ season. It sits alongside the square where various outdoor events from over 150 visiting companies are currently being hosted attracting theatre-goers and performance-lovers from every corner.

The Propstore café, however, caters for a different set of audiences: simply, those in search of food and drink along one of the Thames’ hotspots. Gazing across the rest of the Southbank and over the river to the Embankment, it occupies the riverside face of The National. It doesn’t just look like just any other café either; it is effectively assembled from an impressive array of props and scenery from previous shows at The National Theatre.

Straight from the stage, these objects provide a condensed insight into the backstage life of the theatre’s recent production history. Amongst it all are vintage light fittings from Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein in 2011, one of the goose puppets that starred in War Horse and a pool table from The Comedy of Errors which is integrated into the main bar. To add, there are a couple of bicycles suspended against the walls as well as table surfaces covered in print outs of rehearsal call sheets and backstage cues for various shows. Not only this, but the entire café sits inside a set: a silver-painted greenhouse-like building with metal staircases spiralling into different den-like compartments. The effect created is one in which you are, quite literally, seeing the theatre turned inside out.

Pleasant staff serve wholesome food in small makeshift takeaway boxes, and provide a good selection of drinks at the bar. The atmosphere inside the café is buzzing throughout the day; however, on Friday and Saturday nights the scene livens up with DJs and music playing until a 2am close. The mood inside is sociable and energetic, offering a great space for theatregoers alike to spend the late hours of the weekend at after catching a play. Enjoy it while it lasts!


Words Joanna Lally


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