Kevin Spacey is doing it at the Old Vic (See News, 22 Apr 2004), ATG chief Howard Panter is doing it at the newly inaugurated Trafalgar Studios (See News, 3 Jun 2004), and now Sonia Friedman is planning to do it at the New Ambassadors: applying some subsidised sensibilities to create commercial West End houses with distinct artistic identities through joined up programming of limited seasons. In this week’s Special Feature, exploring producers’ views on current perilous state of plays in the West End, Friedman explains the rationale: “One way forward is to help our audiences to understand the work we’re doing by giving particular theatres a policy and identity, maybe even subscriptions.” In fact, the approach is nothing new for either Friedman or the New Ambassadors. Back in 1999, the former co-founder of the renowned Out of Joint theatre company was originally hired by theatre owner ATG to present just such a ‘new kind of theatre’ at the then freshly renamed ‘New’ Ambassadors Theatre (See News, 16 Apr 1999). With an emphasis on new work, the first season included short residences for Out of Joint, Frantic Assembly and Shared Experience as well as new plays by Charlotte Jones, Ayub Khan-Din and Meredith Oakes. Perhaps the way forward is backward. In any case, we like the sound of it.