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Bristol Old Vic Theatre
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Bristol Old Vic Theatre

King Street, BRISTOL, BS1 4ED
01179 877877

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What's On Highlights

Dr Semmelweis
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Confronted by the terrible death toll of childbed fever, maverick Doctor Semmelweis makes a discovery that could save hundreds of thousands of new mothers. But when the medical establishment questions his methods, rejects his theory and doubts his sanity, the controversial surgeon finds that being a pioneer is not enough.

Years later, he is haunted by the ghosts of the women he failed to save. Is it too late to convince the medical establishment to see the truth? And if he tries what will be the cost?

This powerful World Premiere is based on an original idea from Mark Rylance (Jerusalem, Wolf Hall, Bridge of Spies), developed with Writer Stephen Brown (Occupational Hazards) and Director Tom Morris (War Horse, Touching the Void).

Rylance is internationally known for his long association with Shakespeare’s Globe, and his many performances in the West End, on Broadway and on screen. He will play the role of Doctor Semmelweis in his Bristol Old Vic debut.

Ages 12+
Contains distressing themes concerning childbirth, illness and death. Some strong language.
The majority of these performances are planned to go ahead with no social distancing in the auditorium. Guaranteed Socially Distanced performances are marked in the Dates & Times section on the Bristol Old Vic website.

Wonder Boy
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“What use is a boy who can't say his own name?”

Sonny is twelve. He’s struggling with a severe stammer, crippling grief, and is trapped in a crumbling school system.

Who can save him?

A comic book hero of his own creation helps him soar above his grim reality – but words are power and Sonny needs to find his way in a world full of them. When cast in the school production of Hamlet by a remarkable teacher, he soon finds the real heroes are closer than you think.

Wonder Boy is a dynamic and heartfelt new play exploring the failings of language, the joy in friendship and the power of finding your own way of being heard.

Selected for development through Bristol Old Vic’s annual ‘Open Session’ for West Country writers, Bristol-based playwright Ross Willis (Wolfie) teams up with Olivier Award-winning director Sally Cookson (A Monster Calls, Peter Pan) to bring this powerful coming-of-age story to life this Autumn.

Ages 12+
Contains themes of self-harm, suicide, parental death, violence. Strong language.
Integrated captioning for all performances.
The majority of these performances are planned to go ahead with no social distancing in the auditorium. Guaranteed Socially Distanced performances are marked in the Dates & Times section on the Bristol Old Vic website.

Zog and the Flying Doctors
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Zog, super keen student turned air-ambulance, still lands with a bang-crash-thump. Together with his Flying Doctor crew, Princess Pearl and Sir Gadabout, they tend to a sunburnt mermaid, a unicorn with one too many horns and a lion with the flu. However, Pearl’s uncle, the King, has other ideas about whether princesses should be doctors, and she’s soon locked up in the castle, back in a crown and a silly frilly dress!

With a bit of help from some friends, and half a pound of cheese, can Pearl make her uncle better and prove princesses can be doctors too?

Based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bestselling sequel, Freckle Productions (Zog, Stick Man, Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales, Tabby McTat) bring the creative team behind Zog, Emma Kilbey and Joe Stilgoe, back together for this truly modern take on the classic fairy tale.

Ages 3+ but all ages welcome.

The Meaning of Zong
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1783. A new time. Unprecedented ideas, empires and wealth, and it is slavery greases the gears. That night in the storm, I was someone else. It took this story to show me who I truly am.

Two hundred years ago, Olaudah Equiano changed the world. Reading reports of a massacre aboard the slave ship Zong, where 132 enslaved Africans were thrown overboard, he joins forces with anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp to publicly condemn these abhorrent actions, setting in motion events which would go on to galvanise the abolition movement in the UK.

But Olaudah’s impassioned fight for justice goes beyond the courtroom. Having bought his own freedom, he now faces a personal battle to rediscover his past and accept his true self.

Weaving together the many lives affected by these events across the globe, Giles Terera’s boldly inventive debut play The Meaning of Zong is a timely response to the social upheaval the world has witnessed in recent years.

Ages 12+
Contains distressing scenes and historical racial language. Themes of slavery and violence. Some strong language.

Nish Kumar: Control
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“Comedian Nish Kumar was booed off stage after making Brexit jokes at a charity event on Monday night. Kumar, who hosts the BBC’s Mash Report, was performing at the Lord’s Taverners annual charity cricket lunch.”
– BBC News Report, 3 Dec 2019

It has been a period of upheaval and uncertainty with COVID and the political situation. You will be amazed by my capacity to somehow take all of these things personally.

Control is a new show from the host of the Mash Report and one of The Guardian’s Top Fifty Comedians of the 21st Century. As seen on Live at the Apollo, Taskmaster, Netflix’s Comedians of the World, QI, Conan and The News.

Ages 18+
Running Time: 2 hours including an interval


Bristol Old Vic is located on King Street, a 5-minute walk (0.2 miles) from the City Centre Harbourside.

There are bike racks on both King Street and Prince Street.

Bristol Old Vic is a 15-minute walk (0.8 miles) from Bristol Temple Meads railway station, or there are regular buses and taxis from outside the station. There is also a ferry which runs from the railway station into the City Centre. Bristol Bus Station is a 15-minute walk (0.7 miles) away. From Bristol Airport, it's 40 minutes by bus or 25 minutes by taxi to the City Centre.

Please book taxis for drop-off (and pick-up) to Bristol Old Vic, King Street, BS1 4ED.


There are good car parking facilities in the surrounding area including the NCP on Queen Charlotte Street and Trenchard Street car park, a 5 minute walk across the city centre. Meter parking is also available on King Street and Queen Square. There is one disabled space right outside the theatre. Blue Badge Holders park for free. For more information on parking, including options for minibuses and large vehicles, visit Bristol City Council parking services.

There is space for two coaches to set-down and pick-up in front of The Rackhay. The closest coach park is near the M Shed museum (access off of Cumberland Road) with a fee of £1.10 for up to 24 hours (do check this before setting off). Read about coach parking in Bristol on the Travel West website.


Make yourself at home in one of our purpose-built beach hut-style cabins, decorated with a touch of theatrical magic, and while away your day with craft beers from Left Handed Giant, local ciders, coffee, tea, snacks and more (Marshfield ice cream, anyone?). Or sit in our architecturally award-winning foyer, set against the stunning backdrop of the original 1766 Theatre wall.

For more information and to view menus and opening times please visit:

Access Info

Several per season. For detailed access information please visit the theatre's access page:

Built in 1766 as a place where the people of Bristol could come together, Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world.

It was built as a symbol of the pride we have in our city and what it can achieve and remains a place of joy, discovery and adventure to this day.

Our front of house has recently undergone a multi-million pound redevelopment. Our new building boasts a brand new Studio Theatre, relaxing and fully-accessible front of house space, with a bar and kitchen serving everything from tasty treats with a morning coffee to an evening meal, alongside a new interactive heritage offering – opening up the 250-year-old history of this unique building for everyone to discover and enjoy at their own pace.

Our mission is to create pioneering twenty-first-century theatre in partnership with the people of our energetic city; inspired by the history and magical design of the most beautiful playhouse in the country.

We are led by artists who see the world with distinctive clarity and whose ability to articulate what they see allows us to understand and engage with our world afresh, whether that be through our 350-strong Young Company, our many outreach and education projects or helping ascendant artists by nurturing the spark or seed of an idea into something fully-formed.

We are publicly funded by Arts Council England and Bristol City Council, using that investment to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to our programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it or be able to afford it and to keep our extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

We strive to be welcoming, professional and boundlessly curious; playful, ambitious and rigorous; resourceful, honest, and generous; collaborative, Bristolian and world class.

Come and play.

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