The Odeon Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue (19)

 In London’s West End there are scores of theatres with decorated facades – but this one is outstanding.

It’s too bad that today most people would have little idea of the stories behind the figures in the frieze.   If you take time to look at the sculptured reliefs, you will see the story of “Drama through the Ages”.

The theatre was built in 1931 with T.P. Bennett as architect, but it is the frieze that makes this building so special. It was cast in stone by Gilbert Bayes, one of the best sculptors of the time. He did significant work around London including the massive “Queen of Time” group above the entrance to Selfridges on Oxford Street and two of the statues on the façade of the V&A Museum.

 The frieze is not chronological – so I will show it as it appears on the building

Roman Gladiators

Roman Gladiators

and Imperial Rome

and Imperial Rome




Both of these hit plays have main characters who struggle against crushing authority. Perhaps the choice of these plays reflect the political beliefs of the sculptor Gilbert Bayes.

This theatre is an outstanding example of the exuberant public sculpture that
makes London a wonderful place to explore.

They certainly don’t build Cine-Worlds like this today, must to our loss.

The information about the frieze comes from these websites. “Ornamental Passions” is a great source of information about London. It’s similar to what I do but looks at things individually rather than linking lots of things around London as I usually do.

All photos were taken by Cathey Leitch                                                    @Cathey Leitch, 2015