A deal has been announced which will bring the Royal Shakespeare Company to three London theatres owned by Sir Cameron Mackintosh over the next five years. The RSC has been homeless in London since it left the Barbican in 2001.
It will now have three West End theatres at its disposal - the Novello Theatre, formerly The Strand, the Albery, set to be renamed the Noel Coward, and the Gielgud Theatre.
The RSC will begin its transfers to the capital in December with the 2005-6 London season of four Shakespeare comedies at the refurbished Novello Theatre.
After that and for the next four years productions will either be seen in the Albery on St Martin's Lane, the Gielgud on Shaftesbury Avenue or the Novello.
By 2010 the RSC plans to have a permanent London base.
The company which is also in the process of redeveloping its home in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, has been showing in the West End on an ad-hoc basis until now.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh said: "I could not be more delighted that the RSC has decided to make a five-year commitment to do their London season in one of my theatres."
RSC executive director Vikki Heywood said: "The challenge on the horizon is to find a complementary theatre in London that matches our ambitions for Stratford."