Hendrick's Parlour Bar

“Immersive theatre productions tend to operate in dynamically fluid settings, allowing the audience a more active, voyeuristic, and central role, while also individualizing their experiences” (Adam Green). Now the last time you were sitting in a pub you may not have considered it to be a theatrical experience, so this is a possibly a new interpretation.

The Parlour Bar is well worth a visit in its own right, but the venue also plays host to the Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge, a varied programme of lectures and discussions led by prominent figures.

You may be more familiar with 1 Royal Circus as an elegant guest house, but for a few days only Hendrick’s convert it into their Parlour Bar. As you approach the venue you will see a large converted motor home parked in the street artistically adorned with the bizarre designs associated with Hendrick’s. This is the Mobile Academy of Alchemical Meanderings, otherwise lovingly known as MAAM. It’s used as a hospitality base and training centre but Fringe visitors are welcome to see how it has been beautifully refurbished.

The main building has become a homely hostelry and delightful departure from the modern pub. It reminds us immediately of a more elegant age. Some of the furnishings belong to the house but the majority have been brought in specifically to create the Victorian atmosphere. Smartly costumed hosts greet guests with impeccable courtesy and suitably archaic modes of address and conversation. Thus your immersion commences. The centre of this ‘fluid setting” is, of course the dispensing counter, behind which are the fully equipped bartenders who in our modern age are grandiosely known as mixicologists. Immaculately dressed in black and white they stand ready to prepare everything from the simplest gin and tonic, which, as it’s Hendrick’s, is always served with cucumber, to the most complex cornucopia of cocktails, all made to order thus “individualizing” you experience.

Now you are ready for the “more active, voyeuristic, and central role.” Begin by sipping on you chosen libation and then take a perfectly cut triangular quarter of cheese and cucumber sandwich, of which there are plenty to enjoy, minus their crusts, all proffered by one of the maids from a formal three tiered stand. Sit, if you wish, in the centre of the room on the elegant “conversation” seat, back to back with fellow patrons, from where you can eavesdrop on others, admire the porcelain and china and wonder at the craft of the taxidermist.

The Parlour Bar is well worth a visit in its own right, but the venue also plays host to the Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge, a varied programme of lectures and discussions led by prominent figures. I am most grateful to Hendrick’s and Duncan in particular for having me as their guest and from now on I shall be popping out in the evenings for more “immersive theatre” experiences and maybe also visit one of the chief exponents of the genre, ironically called Punchdrunk!

Reviews by Richard Beck

Ambassadors Theatre. / The Ambassadors Theatre


Cambridge Theatre

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Greenwich Theatre

The Dumb Waiter & A Slight Ache

Park Theatre / Park Theatre London

Leaves of Glass

Hampstead Theatre

Biscuits for Breakfast

Wilton's Music Hall

Under Milk Wood


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Nourish both your mind and your taste buds in Hendrick’s Parlour Bar. Unusual characters, eye-opening wisdom and exquisite cocktails await the curiously-minded... Join us and reawaken your spirit of curiosity in the decadent One Royal Circus! Be seated and enjoy luxuriant libations served to you by some of the world’s finest bartenders.

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