Seat prices are rising in the West End and the bigger theatres. It is inevitable, perhaps, but do you get value for money in the ‘cheaper options’?
I went along to two large-scale revivals this week to find out. For each, I purchased a ticket of roughly comparable value, and you can read on below to find out what I thought.
These are not reviews of the cast performances or the show in general – simply a reflection on what a significant amount of money will buy you in a big venue in London.
As a theatre critic, I am often in a privileged position to enjoy the more expensive tickets, but I do also choose to spend my money on shows, and reserve the right to call them out if I feel they are letting their audience down, or to celebrate the really good deals.
Show and venue:
Shirley Valentine at the Duke of York’s.
Upper Circle F3, ticket value £25.
Restriction noted due to position of seat at the left-hand sde of the row. Standing patrons just behind the row, and two rows of bench sets central behind them.
A slight missing out of the extreme left-hand side of the stage.
Exactly what I expected. Perhaps slightly annoying having standees breathing down your neck but that’s a small inconvenience for the price (they pay £20). No undue issues with people leaning forward. I would recommend for a show of this type with one performer, but perhaps not for something more elaborate.
How I felt:
Very enjoyable show, which felt intimate despite being quite removed from it. I am told folks in the dress circle can smell the egg and chips cooked in Act 1, but my seat was a little high for that. It takes a little while to tune into the sound level as well. I left feeling entertained for a reasonable price.
Here’s a snapshot of the stage curtain before the show starts. You can see where the left corner is cut off from view. The overhang above, which does not affect this show, is the former theatre balcony, now in other use.
Show and venue:
Groundhog Day at the Old Vic.
Dress circle C 19, ticket value £35.
Restriction due to ”slim pillar’ in view.
I’d heard this seat was a hidden gem, so I was expecting no restrictions that really impacted on my enjoyment of the show. I also know the dress circle is set far back from the stage at this venue, so was prepeared for that.
This was an incredibly good seat for the price. The pillar is insubstantial and cuts off no view of the stage in this production. I note that the air conditioning is directly above this seat and may be noisy when watching a play: it did not impact on this musical.
How I felt:
Very pleased with my purchase. There is also ample legroom and the seat was comfortable.
Here’s a snapshot of the pre-set before the show started. Note the slim pillar just in view on the left-hand side of the picture.
I will continue this series as and when opportunities arise.