There are a lot of agents who will tell you that buying tickets for London’s West End theatres is very tricky: well it isn’t! You can even do it at the same time as you book the rest of your holiday or short break: they are called theatre breaks and they will even give you access to special deals as well as give you great availability!
But once at the theatre how do you relax into the role of cultural savant without looking like a wally?
Dress Code. There is no dress code for London theatre: from dickie bow to thongs (the Aussie kind) I’ve seen it all.
Dress according to the occasion that brings you to the theatre and you will be fine. Dress up if it is an anniversary, relax in jeans if it is just another night out on the town.
Arrive with plenty of time to spare: 30 minutes before “curtain-up” will allow for any disasters on the way. Try not to rush to the theatre. Leave yourself time to arrive in a calm manner rather than sweating like a pig!
This is also good for giving you time to buy a programme and order interval drinks and go to the loo. Ladies: you will have to queue in the interval: sorry, but blame the architects!
If you don’t order interval drinks and you have to queue with the rest of the audience you may find you run out of time at the end of the interval to finish your drink. Don’t panic, the barman will decant your drink into a plastic cup and you can take it in with you. If the show is particularly hard work you can always buy an extra drink to take in with you. Rock of Ages is great but the second half is so much more fun if you’re feeling a little merry: get with the spirit just don’t get too close to the edge of the Dress Circle!
Don’t buy chocolates at the theatre. They are expensive and loud when eaten! If you really want to feed your sweet tooth, buy an ice cream but expect to be shocked at the price.
Really Good Tip for Patrons of the Adelphi and Vaudeville Theatres
If you find yourself at one of these theatres walk outside in the interval. Apart from enjoying a breath of fresh air on the Strand (“Let’s all go down the Strand”), just opposite there is a shop which sells choccies, ice creams and even chilled mixed drinks, beer and wine at a fraction of the cost of that available in the theatre… just be careful when you cross the road.
Tip for smokers. If you are a smoker you can head out front for a cigarette but don’t wander too far off. Most theatres will have a member of the Front of House staff on the door to tell you when the second half is starting but they will not come and get you from the pub! Take your ticket stub with you.
Finally, relax. Enjoy yourself. The theatre is not a big scary place full of pretentious fools, it is full of people like you, who will come out of the theatre at the end of the night, saying “that was great” and asking ”why don’t we do this more often?”
Author Simon Harding writes for a variety of travel and theatre websites and has been involved in London’s Theatreland for over 30 years.