A FRINGE theatre is part of the cultural impetus that is driving Penge upmarket.

Veteran theatre director Guy Retallack and his wife Rachel Tucker – a West End actress who appeared on BBC show I’d Do Anything in 2008 – opened the Bridge House theatre above the Bridge House pub in the High Street a year ago.

Guy said: “It has been a rollercoaster, an amazing ride trying to open a theatre above a pub.”

He added: “It is a very interesting time to be around south east London. You can see it growing and in many ways it is one the up. The theatre is just one of those elements.”

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Guy Retallack

Finding an audience has been the biggest adventure, he said. Cabaret and comedy have proved popular but with a three-week run of Macbeth, the theatre is hosting only its second play.

Guy said: “There is not a lot (of theatre) going on here, yet there is an amazing number of people who would enjoy not just comedy and cabaret but theatre.”

He added: “I grew up in the 90s doing fringe theatre so it feels like we have come full circle.”

Guy said he wants the theatre to be accessible and hopes that the close-up, intense performance of a well-known text will drive people to the theatre through word of mouth.

In the long run, Guy hopes that the high quality of his shows enables him not just to share them at the Bridge House Theatre but also to take them on tour.

Macbeth is at the Bridge House Theatre, Penge, from Friday (March 28) until April 19. Tickets cost £11 to £17.50 (or £7.50 previews).

Go to bhtheatre.co.uk or call 020 36089112.