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Play time

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Jay Merrick usually has a way with words. But his piece in the Independent last week begins: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single lottery grant in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a project.' It doesn't quite work.

The article, headlined 'Was the architecture to blame?', is sweet and sour about the Hampstead Theatre by Bennetts Associates, suggesting that it is a 'dazzling failure', and comparing it unfavourably with the Hackney Empire project; Hampstead cost far more, it is stated, than Hackney. But are the figures right? Merrick says the former was £20 million, but the construction cost was only £8.5 million. A dramatic difference.

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