The Harold Pinter Theatre, known as The Comedy Theatre until 2011, opened on Panton Street in the City of Westminster, on October 15, 1881, as the Royal Comedy Theatre. It was designed by Thomas Verity and built in just six months in painted stone and brick. By 1884 it was known as just the Comedy Theatre. In the mid-1950s the theatre went under major reconstruction and re-opened in December 1955, the auditorium remains essentially that of 1881, with three tiers of horseshoe shaped balconies.
In 1883, the successful operetta Falka had its London premiere at the theatre, and in 1885, Erminie did the same. The theatre's reputation grew through World War I when Charles Blake Cochran and André Charlot presented their famous revue shows. Famous actors who appeared here include Henry Daniell who played John Carlton in Secrets in September 1929.
The theatre was notable for the role it played in overturning stage censorship by establishing the New Watergate Club in 1956, under producer Anthony Field. The outdated Theatres Act 1843 still required scripts to be submitted for approval by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. Formation of the club allowed plays that had been banned due to language or subject matter to be performed under 'club' conditions. Plays produced in this way included the UK premières of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, Robert Anderson's Tea and Sympathy and Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. The law was not revoked until 1968, but in the late 1950s there was a loosening of conditions in theatre censorship, the club was dissolved and Peter Shaffer's Five Finger Exercise premièred to a public audience.
Recent productions have included Journey's End, The Old Masters, Whose Life is it Anyway?, The Home Place, Epitaph for George Dillon, The Caesar Twins, Steptoe and Son, Donkeys' Years, The Rocky Horror Show. The current production is Fat Pig. The theatre is a part of the Ambassador Theatre Group.