Designed by architect Ernest Schaufelberg, the beautiful Fortune theatre opened on 8th November 1924 and is a Grade II listing building. Despite the passing decades, it has retained its original restrained Art Deco style and intimate feel.
The building process was a bit of a disaster since the preliminary groundwork was started in December 1922 and the venue wasn’t finished until two years later. The delay might have been down to the fact that the theatre was one of the first buildings to use ferro-concrete construction, the results of which can still be seen today in the exposed concrete on the theatre’s frontage. In the early 1960s, the theatre benefited from a huge renovation project that brought it up to modern-day technical standards.
A notable feature of the Fortune is the hanging freehold that connects the theatre to the adjacent Scottish National Church. This corridor, belonging to the Church, runs along one side of the theatre's auditorium at ground level, with the stalls level under it, the dress circle level alongside it and the upper circle above it.
Because of the connection the theatre has with the church next door, it's ironic that the first production to be staged was titled Sinners! The play was penned by Laurence Cowen, who also commissioned the venue's architect. Unfortunately for Cowen, the play only ran for two weeks.
A diverse and eclectic mix of productions have called the venue home. The first big hit at the theatre was On Approval, a comedy of manners by Frederick Lonsdale, which had a run of just over one year in 1927. Then, in 1957, the Flanders and Swan revue At The Drop Of A Hat ran for 733 performances. In 1961 Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller staged their infamous and hilarious revue show Beyond The Fringe, which ran for 1184 performances before transferring to the Mayfair Theatre. In 1979 the play Murder In The Vicarage had a run of 1758 performances.
The longest running production to date at the Fortune theatre is the current show, The Woman in Black, a Victorian ghost story adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the novel by Susan Hill. The Woman in Black transferred to the Fortune on 7th June 1989 and the theatre is the perfect venue for this three-person thriller that keeps audiences coming back night after night.