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a life in architecture

As a playwright, Michael Frayn feels he should put in a good word for the 'much-attacked' National Theatre (pictured).The approach from the riverside 'makes the heart lift and when you get inside the foyer you're certain you're going to have a good time.Quite why the foyers work so well I don't know. It's partly because they're quite complicated spaces and I think the combination of concrete with the shutter markings and carpets is rather dramatic.'

The Olivier? Dramatic and challenging, but poor acoustics.

The Lyttleton? 'It does look a bit daunting and bleak and I find those long rows of seats a little intimidating.'A central aisle would cure this but would mean 'that actors in the centre of the stage were playing to a piece of empty carpet and actors like to feel they're playing to human beings rather than carpet'.

The Cottesloe? 'It's the theatre everyone wants to get their plays into because it's so informal.'

During previews of his play, Copenhagen, Frayn sat behind the stage.'They're the best seats in the house and I sat there until people in the auditorium complained that I was checking up on the audience's reactions. I thought after that I'd better conceal myself in the main body of the theatre.'

Of the recent changes to Denys Lasdun's original design? 'I think you can make improvements even to the best designed buildings.

You always get surprises in the way that buildings are used, however carefully they have been thought out.'

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