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Is the West End too expensive for young people?


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This week, Sherlock star Mark Gatiss has branded The West End as an "exclusive club for rich white people".

The West End is probably at its broadest in years. Shows can vary from musical classics such as Phantom of the Opera to modern plays like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Whatever kind of thing you want to see, chances are theatre-land can offer it. You can go for a sing-a-long, to cry, to laugh; you can be eight or 80, there’s something for everyone.

With such variety it may seem odd that Gattis has made such comments. The main issue he seems to have is with extortionate ticket prices. Going to the theatre is always going to be more expensive than going to the cinema. Why? Because these actors are live each and every night. The emotion you see is raw. There are no re-takes, no clever editing and no second chances. They play to a fresh batch of faces each night and have to keep a high standard at all times. The theatres are rented for the length of the show and these places aren’t cheap. The theatre is there to make a profit, of course, however it’s also an experience that is second to none.

The average price of a London theatre ticket is £42.99, according to the Society of London Theatre. Understandably, that is a rather large sum of money to spend on just one evening. Though I’m confident a lot of young people will spend that on a night out.

Being a savvy theatre-goer is important. Just like you will try and aim for happy hour at the pub – there are plenty of ways to ensure you’re not paying a huge amount of money at the box office (and still have money for a drink at the bar).

Lotteries are one great option - TodayTix run them on their app for selected shows, and The Book of Mormon also run one through their website. The National Theatre release £15 tickets for almost all of their performances and The Donmar Warehouse are releasing free tickets for under 25’s to their Shakespeare Triology. Keep a look out for preview performances as these usually run at a discount, and venture round box offices to find the cheapest prices.

London theatre is very progressive. The city does well at pulling in a vast audience and they showcase performances that are all very different.

You also don’t have to go to the West End to get the best theatre. For example, The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester has tickets from £10 and 100s of £6 tickets on Fridays for students. Look out at your local theatres to try and grab some deals; sometimes the more intimate the show, the more intense the atmosphere. Just because the show has a well-known face or is immensely popular, doesn’t mean it’s the best there is.

Theatre is challenging, educational and we should pride ourselves on the variety that is available to us and that we have the opportunity to purchase at low cost. 

It seems Mark Gatiss needs to focus on some of the positive and progressive movements the theatre scene has made - especially since we have faced cuts to arts funding. I think we’re doing pretty well.

You shop savvy, so book savvy.

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