Propstore: Highbrow culture meets unpretentious fun

From out of nowhere a bright and festive little café has suddenly appeared in front of the dull and stately building of the National Theatre.

From out of nowhere a bright and festive little café has suddenly appeared in front of the dull and stately building of the National Theatre. This is Propstore, the National Theatre’s riverfront pop-up café and bar,built almost entirely from stage sets and filled to the brim with props from last year’s productions.After its launch last year, it has now returned bigger and better for a second summer, so make sure not to miss it before they break the entire place down again on September 28.

Propstore provides the perfect setting for after-play drinks, allowing you to let the serious drama glide off your shoulders as you leave the sober interior of the National Theatre and step into the playful surroundings of this temporary summertime bar.

Why not sit down on one of the House of Commons benches from This House to discuss the play of that evening, have a drink at the piano from Hansel and Gretel or reside in front of the fireplace from The Magistrate? And make sure not to miss the original train set from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is occasionally set in motion and starts to ride the tracks that are hanging overhead.

The seasoned theatre-goer should be able to recognize a fair deal of the props, but don’t let your lack of theatre experience discourage you. The people from Propstore thoughtfully added black stickers with background information on every item.

In fact, you should not to be intimidated by the fact that Propstore is a theatre café. Propstore is the place where the highbrow culture of the National Theatre meets with unpretentious fun, making it a warm and welcoming environment for anyone, whether you are a long time theatre lover or have never seen the inside of a theatre before.

The fake grass mats and outdoor mobile toilets reiterate Propstore’s nonchalant and quirky tone, especially in the weekends, when there is live music and DJs playing until 2am. It practically feels like one of the festival tents of Glastonbury has been teleported in front of the National Theatre building.

Once the sun sets over the river it starts to become clear that a lot of the theatre’s finest technicians must have been involved in the building of Propstore too, as a stunning display of lighting starts to brighten up the entire place. There’s an actual lamp post illuminating the bar and besides a couple of impressive chandeliers, they even managed to incorporate parts of the spectacular and much talked about light bulb ceiling from last year’s Frankenstein production, creating somewhat of a magical atmosphere in this little pop-up café.

Open seven days a week, Propstore’s kitchen will be serving English street food classics such as steak and ale rissoles, pulled pork sandwiches and sweet potato and chickpea falafel. Their drinks list is predominantly English as well, with spirits from Sipsmith, English wines from Gloucestershire’s Three Choirs vineyard, and draught beer from London brewery Meantime.

Propstore cannot be overlooked. With its perfect location on the South Bank, unique scenery and the finest English drinks and street food, it is undeniably the most exciting place to hang out in London during the summertime.

What do you think? Have you been to Propstore? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.