Get more for your money: BONUS BLOG

Despite popular belief, going to see London theatre without the London price is not something which only happens in myths – but I assure you, once you bag yourself a bargain seat you WILL feel like the ultimate legend. The shows and plays I review are always £15 and below, (and between you and me, I hate spending £15 on a ticket… that’s my limit!!)

As arguably the most tight-fisted student London student, I refuse to believe that good theatre can’t be cheap.

Here are a few tips when it comes to sitting in the cheap seats.

One: Check on the official websites of specific plays/shows for day-release tickets

You may have to queue up early in the morning, but being on high alert for queue-jumpers injects some fun and adrenaline into the sport! Matilda releases sixteen £5 tickets for 16-25 year olds. Funny Girl releases 100 for £15. The Old Vic Theatre often releases £10 day tickets.

Two: Sign up to theatre schemes for youth

*Obviously, age requirements apply!* Many theatre companies love to reward youngsters with cheap tickets – and all you have to do is retain your youthfulness! (And sign up online…) The National Theatre, Tricycle Theatre and Young Barbican are good memberships to subscribe to – and they’re free!

Three: Head to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square

The TKTS booth is tourist central and so the prices they offer are not always that cheap.     If you do visit the booth, specify that you’d like the cheapest possible seat – otherwise they’ll offer you the ‘best’ seat available in the house, not the cheapest.

Four: Just Google it!

Often it takes a long time to find cheap tickets, but if they’re out there, google will find them for you. I’ve found some great offers from London Theatre Direct and Hot Ticket Offers in the past.

Five: Be prepared to compromise comfortable viewing

The best bargain tickets will always come from The Globe Theatre. If you’re prepared to stand for a few hours – and we’re talking Shakespeare, so it’ll be long – The Globe has 700 standing tickets for each performance which they sell for only £5. Other theatres (including a couple within The National Theatre) provide standing tickets.

Six: Turn on the charm at the last minute

Sometimes putting pressure on staff in the box office at the last minute can get you a cheap ticket. Admittedly, my attempts so far have been rather unsuccessful… but that needn’t always be the case! Some popular Musical Theatre venues have been known to admit stand-ers in the last minutes before a show.

Seven: Enter a ticket lottery

Some theatres hold a ticket lottery, for which the results are revealed an hour or so before the show. The Book of Mormon is very well known for this and the success rate is high.

Eight: Check your spam emails

You may already be frequently receiving great ticket deals without even knowing it! Some fantastic offers are revealed in emails from Time Out, Amazon, and Wowcher and you’ve probably just been ignoring the messages. If you’re not signed up, subscribe to ATG Tickets, Hot Ticket Offers, Show Film First, and London Theatre Direct.

Nine: Don’t be a snob!

Great plays and musicals are showing all over London, not just at the famous theatres! The Bush Theatre, Park Theatre, and the Menier Chocolate Factory are just a few off-West end venues which produce great quality theatre.

Ten: Check the newspapers for ads                                                    

Google often isn’t the most helpful way to source a cheap seat because all the expensive ads will jump straight to the top of the feed. But newspapers are filled with hundreds of ads for shows you’ve never even heard of but have received great reviews. Plus, looking through the ads is an enjoyable way to pass the time on your tube ride home when you’re forced to abandon the internet for 19 minutes.

 

So, the secrets are out. I look forward to sitting in the cheap seats with you all soon.

From,

the girl sitting in the cheap seats

x

 

*WARNING*: Reading this will be a Waste of your time.

I hope with all sincerity that my account of this spectacular play should not appear to my readers to be a waste. Unfortunately, I very fortunately managed to nab a ticket for this production’s final performance and so I’m unable to tell my readers to rush for tickets themselves. Regardless, this play provokes its audience with depressing and often uncomfortable themes which imprint poignantly onto our minds and consciences – providing for a discussion worth publicising even if you won’t be able to be ‘imprinted’ first-hand for yourselves.

Whatever you make of this review, let it be known that my spontaneous (but somewhat hesitant) decision to go along to see Waste at the National Theatre was a very good one. Even if this depressing tale describes most things as meaningless and futile, it certainly wasn’t a waste of my money or time.

Date of viewing: 19/03/2016

Production: Waste

Seat: Circle, B 19

How cheap!?: £5 (Entry Pass ticket – National Theatre 16-25 year old’s scheme)

My review must begin with a confession – I was reluctant to buy a ticket for Waste for two reasons: I was deterred by its frightening length and by its professed allegiance to politics. I can by no means be marked as a proponent either for sitting down for long periods of time (I’m too fidgety) nor for understanding or participating in politics (I’m too… [I’ll let you politicise for yourselves]). But delightfully, neither of these qualities proved too overwhelming as the plot unravelled, and I became fully immersed in the world of the story (even if I did have to feign a good deal of political understanding to get by).

Waste is an extremely stylish play. Although it exists in the now-outdated 1920’s, it is concerned, through and through, with the notion of modernity. As per usual, The National Theatre matches this pursuit of stylishness superbly with its use of scenery. Upon arrival, the stage is filled rather plainly with six or seven empty chairs. As the play begins, a glum and moody piano piece is heard – (I shan’t attempt to name the piece or composer because to do so erroneously would reveal my true identity as a less-than-capable Music undergraduate) – as a large screen slowly draws across the stage, revealing as if by magic actors sitting rather ominously in the chairs which only seconds ago were profoundly empty. The simplicity of this masterful technique is absolutely typecast of The National Theatre’s attention-to-set related detail and mimics the sleek atmosphere of the performance which follows.

Charles Edwards is simply fantastic at being a real human being”

At its birth, Waste was banned from public performance by the Lord Chamberlain of the time for its depiction of abortion. It is left unto the imagination of the reader as to whether the fact that Waste promotes politicians as flawed, like the rest of us, has anything to do with its lengthy abolition. It is easy to see why it was banned: Waste is an absolutely scandalous play.

Independent politician, and so-called moral genius Henry Trebell (played by Charles Edwards) sets about to bill the disestablishment of the Church of England. The problem is, our moral protagonist finds himself caught up in a less-than-moral scandal: the impregnation of Amy O’Connell, (Olivia Williams), an unhappily married Catholic wife with less-than-catholic views with regards to the termination of her unwanted pregnancy. Henry, is fraught with anxiety upon hearing the news, yet determined that the child need not be aborted. Amy’s suicide (which is revealed bluntly after the interval) adds another sin to Henry’s bow: who now faces being confronted with his seemingly endless string of scandals just days before his hearing in Parliament. Other advocates of the bill fret over the morality of standing alongside Henry and pursue earnestly a way to cover up his mess. Henry is dismissed from proposing the bill. Having lost his lover and his unborn child, Henry must now come to terms with the fact that his job – his first love, and indeed his life – has been snatched from him, despite his indisputable capability and gifting as a political thinker. As a result, Henry spirals into depression. His final source of comfort comes from his sister Frances (Sylvestra Le Touzel).

I daren’t reveal any more of the play’s doom-and-gloomy plot, but suffice to say, Henry’s obsequious assistant Walter, considered the whole affair to be a terrible waste of such a great man. The play ends after a black out revealing a spilled waste paper basket emptying itself of hundreds of futile scrunched up sheets. A waste.

“Olivia Williams is an actress I, quite frankly, admire”

I make rather a bold statement in suggesting that Charles Edwards, who played leading man Henry, is in fact the most convincing, naturalist actor I have ever had the pleasure of watching. His sporadically changing demeanour throughout the play was nonetheless linked exceptionally by his power to keep real. It is completely impossible to say whether or not I like the character of Henry Trebell, but sure as the sun stands, I can identify with him. As a player, moralist, atheist, scandalous politician, and sufferer of mental illness, Henry’s character begs the attention from audience members who attain all or none of those criteria because Charles Edwards is simply fantastic at being a real human being. Edwards’ acting style is not mimicked – even slightly – by any other actor. Even so, by no means does this mean there were no other outstanding performances given.

The erratic and rather annoying Amy O’Connell was played earnestly by Olivia Williams who managed to imprint a huge impression on the audience, despite only being present up until the interval. Her portrayal was perhaps too emphatic at points, but her mad, and emotion-fuelled exclamation announcing her refusal to give birth was poignantly heart-wrenching. For many reasons, Amy O’Connell is a character I’m quite sure I don’t like – but Olivia Williams is an actress I, quite frankly, admire. Although the piece is dominated largely by male performers, Sylvestra Le Touzel as Henry’s loving older sister is worthy of recognition. Her characterisation might have benefitted from an extra sprinkle of ‘life’, but one wonders whether her assumed emotional state rightly resembled Frances’ rather bland view of life – not suicidal or impassioned like her brother, but certainly not indulgent. Le Touzel’s portrayal exudes a worldly wisdom which brought comfort at even the darkest moments of the play.

“outstanding performances”

My favourite character is picked for his refreshing addition to the plot. Mr Charles Cantilupe, played by Gerrard McArthur, is a proponent of Henry’s plan to disestablish church from state, despite being a devout Christian himself. His moral conduct is unquestionable and his demeanour pleasant – which can’t be said for a number of portrayed Christians in twentieth century theatre. Fascinatingly, hopelessness is the outcome of all aspects discussed in the play – politics, gender-roles, sexual scandal, marriage, suicide, abortion – except the existence of the church. Because of this, McArthur caught my eye for playing Cantilupe as a positive proponent of much needed consistency. His vocal tone was much slower, less erratic and less impassioned than many of the other characters. Although his deep voice was sometimes intimidating, he offered unrivalled stability within the chaos.

This large cast was filled numerously with powerful performances – many which I neglect to mention with much guilt – none of which are wasted, regardless of the length of each’s on-stage presence. This is perhaps what makes the play so very real.

Although I imagine it probably does feel a terrible waste to have read so much of the play’s fantastic characters and themes now that you’re completely incapable of watching The National Theatre’s production for yourselves…

No, you’re right. That was a waste.

From,

the girl sitting in the cheap seats

x