Skip to main content

Box Office

Visit us

Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo
London , SE1 8LZ

Connect with The Young vic

Newsletter Sign up


UPDATE: For the latest information regarding our theatre operations during COVID-19 please visit this page

50 years in 50 images: The 80s | #YV50

By youngviclondon 18 Sep 2020

A black and white photo of Vanessa Redgrave in the 1985 Young Vic production of Ghosts is projected outside the the Young Vic  building


For our second chapter as part of celebrating 50 years of the Young Vic, we’re revisiting the 80s - a decade marked by a new Artistic Director and productions from acclaimed modern playwrights like Samuel Beckett,  Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Edward Albee. 

These ten images are just a small selection from an entire decade of Young Vic history. We’d love to hear about your 80s memories of the theatre, the shows, the people…. let us know on social, using #YV50.

Catch up on previous posts here:


1. This is a production picture of Timothy Whitnall as Jesus in the 1981 revival of Godspell, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, directed by Stuart Mungall. The production ran between June and July 1981 before returning for a Christmas run later that year.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage


2. In 1981 we presented a revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, directed by Denise Coffe, starring Lorraine Chase as Eliza Doolittle. Pictured above is Lorraine (centre) alongside co-stars Betty Marsden as Mrs Higgins (left) and Sebastian Breaks as Colonel Pickering (right).

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage


3. In 1984 David Thacker took over as Artistic Director, a position he held for nine years. His first production was William Shakespeare’s Othello, starring Rudolph Walker in the title role (pictured above), the first black actor to play Othello in London in over twenty years.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage


4. In 1984 the Young Vic secured the London premiere of Willy Russell’s Stags and Hens, a comic examination of young people’s expectations of love and marriage. The cast was made up of mostly Liverpudlian actors, including (from left to right) Noreen Kershaw, Anne Miles, Eithne Browne and Gilly Coman.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage

5. Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs Alving in the Young Vic’s 1985 production of Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, directed by David Thacker. The production also starred Adrian Dunbar (pictured above) as Oswald Alving and Tom Wilkinson as Pastor Manders. This production later moved to the Wyndham’s Theatre and was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement. 

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage

6. Sir Patrick Stewart and Billie Whitelaw in the 1987 revival of Edward Albee’s Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. This four-week limited run was very well received, with critics praising David Thacker’s in-the-round staging. Shortly after this production, Sir Patrick moved to Los Angeles to begin filming a brand-new television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage

7. Loudon Wainwright III pictured alongside Lucinda Curtis in the 1987 revival of Caryl Churchill’s Owners, directed by Annie Castledine. This was the first major revival of the play since its original production at the Royal Court Theatre in 1972. In his book 'The theatre of Caryl Churchill' professor R. Darren Gobert writes, ‘(The Young Vic) production undoubtedly had thematic resonance, happening as it did on the brink of Thatcher’s complete deregulation of the rental market’.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage

8. Following her acclaimed performance in Ghosts, Vanessa Redgrave returned to the Young Vic stage in 1988 to star in a revival of Eugene O'Neill’s A Touch of the Poet alongside Timothy Dalton. This production later moved to the Comedy Theatre (now known as the Harold Pinter Theatre) and it earned Vanessa Redgrave an Olivier Award nomination in the ‘Actress of the Year (Revival)’ category. 

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage

9. David Thacker collaborated with Arthur Miller on several plays at the Young Vic, starting with this 1988 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, starring a young Tom Wilkinson in the lead role. This production, alongside with the above-mentioned run of A Touch of the Poet, earned David an Olivier Award nomination for Director of the Year. 

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage

10. Dame Helen Mirren as Angela in the London premiere of the Arthur Miller double-bill, Two Way Mirror (1989). David Thacker directed Mirren alongside Bob Peck in this production, two performances which prompted Miller to remark the following in an interview with The Times: ‘What is so good about English actors is that they are not afraid of the open expression of large emotions". 

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage


Don't Miss: 50th Projection Project

To celebrate our 50th birthday year, each evening from Monday to Saturday the front of our building becomes a giant canvas, illuminated by a video projection designed by Duncan Mclean, celebrating the past people and productions who collectively represent five extraordinary decades.