Michael Grandage said in an interview last week that cheap West End theatre tickets are essential to attract the next generation of theatre-goers. Now while I'm much older than the age group Grandage is seeking to attract I a) go to the theatre a lot and always like a good value ticket and b) think I've got a good few decades of theatre-going left in me yet.
His comments, ironically, come at a time when a lot of West End theatres have sneakily pushed up ticket prices. Standard stalls seats seem to have risen from around £55 to £60 in the last couple of months, an increase of 9% which is way above inflation.
Now I've always thought of the West End as mainly for tourists and occasional theatre-goers with some exceptions. (*coughs* Mojo). There are plenty of places in London to see good quality theatre, with some of the best acting, writing and directing talent and without paying over the odds. Here are five such places that you can get tickets near the stage (I hate seats in the gods) for less than £20.
1. Royal Court, Sloane Square
All tickets on Monday's are £10 for both theatres. Get online at 9am on the day and you shouldn't have a problem.
2. Donmar Theatre, Covent Garden
£10 Barclays Front Row tickets go on sale, online 10 am two weeks prior. Now I only tried this when Coriolanus was on and had no luck but then it was hideously over subscribed. I do, however, know plenty of people who've successfully secured tickets for less starry productions relatively easily.
Almeida is having a good run with successful shows transferring but if you catch them before they transfer you can get far better seats for much less money. In fact for £17 you can get a seat in either of the two side blocks in the stalls which are listed at restricted view but rarely are.
4. National Theatre, South Bank
If you are a theatre regular then it is worth investing in membership at the National Theatre, this gives you access to the Travelex £12 tickets which are the first three rows of the Olivier and Lyttleton Theatres albeit in smaller more cramped seats. The money you save on the Travelex tickets as opposed to the full price seats will make the membership pay for for itself quite quickly. You may still be able to snag a £12 ticket once public booking opens but it a gamble.
5. St James Theatre, Victoria
Like the Almeida the St James discounts tickets that are slightly to the side of the stage, actually they aren't as much to the side as the seating plan makes out so definitely worth £14.
OK so that is my list, it is not exhaustive so over to you fellow theatre lovers, what are your suggestions?