Loving both London and the theatre can be a poisoned chalice – once you’ve aid your rent, it is difficult to fund what can be extremely expensive pastime.
However, there are ways to indulge without edging towards bankruptcy… My top tips are:
These are a relatively new entrant to the theatre game, and often sell tickets to great shows that have made the leap from smaller venues to the West End, giving them bigger theatres to fill. I have recently got great deals on tickets from both Amazon Local and Living Social. Remember to check the seat that you’re being assigned on TheatreMonkey.com before finalising the transaction to ensure that you get a decent view.
This booth is available at Leicester Square and Brent Cross Shopping Centre and offers genuine, cut-price theatre tickets on the day for a huge variety of West End shows. Get there at opening time (10am Monday-Saturday) for the biggest selection. NB tickets are only available in person, but you can see what’s available here:
During November, they also offer a ‘West End Wednesdays’ deal where you can get in to big shows on a 2 for 1 basis. Well worth checking out to fill your winter weekday evenings… Tickets still only available in person.
Time Out London
A great guide on what’s on all the way down to the tiniest fringe show. Also keep an eye on their latest theatre offers (the iPhone app is also AMAZING for London inspiration).
This little gem isn’t just for eleventh-hour holidays – they also have a good selection of tickets for the big, West End shows and will often allocate you very good seats. We used them to book for Shrek the Musical and were bumped up from somewhere in the Dress Circle to a box right at the back of the stalls.www.lastminute.com
Also have a look at the special offers at cheaptheatretickets.com: http://www.cheaptheatretickets.com/special-offers/ . It’s mainly the big West End shows and they offer good discounts.
Turn up in the morning
Different theatres have different systems, but at many you can turn up when the box office opens at 10/11am and buy cheap ‘day tickets’, even for the most popular, sold out shows. I did this for The Childrens’ Hour and ended up in a box right by the stage for £15. Best to check the website for the policy of the individual theatre before you turn up.
Head to the Fringe
Theatre is so much more than just the West End. London in particular is scattered with small venues showing great work. Often the pub theatres and smaller spaces put on much more interesting productions than the safe, tourist-pleasing big shows in town that have to get bums on seats to fund their extortionate overheads. Tickets for these small venues are often a steal, and you can see some future mover-and-shakers in ‘the biz’. Check out the Tristan Bates Theatre, The Hen & Chickens Pub Theatre, The Landor and Jermyn Street Theatre (to get you started). The Southwark Playhouse is also a great space and offers ‘airline style’ pricing, where the same seats are cheaper the earlier you book.
Get on Twitter
Even if you’re a technophobe, this is a resource not to be missed. Follow users who post good deals to shows and it’s easy to grab a bargain. Recommended: @BargainTheatre, @whatsonstage.com, @LondonTheatre1 and @TimeOutTheatre. Make sure you follow me on @oneinalongline while you’re there.
Finally – make sure you’re not being sold a dud. Theatre Monkey has seating plans for all London venues, colour coded for how good/bad the view actually is. A red is very bad, and green is a great view for its price. Very handy when you’re trying to get a bargain but need to know how ‘restricted’ that view actually is. Check out your venue and seats here: