Tag Archives: Seat Plan

How to win £100 of theatre vouchers – by going to the theatre

How do you fancy winning yourself some theatre vouchers?  £100 worth.  Enough to indulge in 2 good seats in the dress circle.  Or 4 tickets in the cheap seats.  How about earning some vouchers for just a teeny bit of effort on top of watching a show in the West End?  Well read on…

seatplan-logo

Apologies for the click-baity headline and intro – but it’s for good reason.  A few weeks ago I met some of the team behind Seat Plan.  They want to help improve your theatre-going experience.  Because, when you think about it, buying theatre tickets can sometimes be a bit of a gamble.  You buy them based off a boxy diagram which, at best, bears a passing resemblance to the actual position of seats, and at worst, is wildly misleading.  Even if you do buy them in person from the box office, I’m not sure how obliging the staff would be if you asked to have a wander around the various tiers of the auditorium before choosing your seat(s) and parting with money.

Here’s the layout for the Aldwych Theatre.  Have a good look at row AA in the Grand Circle and then row A in the Dress Circle (and Boxes B, D and E):

aldwych-theatre-seatmap

Now look at a photo of the inside, taken from the Dress Circle:

 

 

You see the problem?  That grid hardly indicates the curvature.

Much as I hate to be cynical, theatres want your money.  Provided they’ve listed a seat as ‘restricted view’ and possibly detailed what that actually means, you’ve got very little comeback if you decide you’re not happy with the view.  You wouldn’t shell out £40 on a pair of shoes without trying them on first, especially if you knew you couldn’t get a refund or another size if they didn’t fit (unless you’re one of those oligarch-y types who has a diamond-encrusted toothbrush just because you can).  Yet this is exactly how we are expected to buy our seats in a theatre – and West End tickets aren’t cheap.  Price brackets are sometimes a bit of a conundrum.  Is a £27.50 seat in the back row of the stalls comparable to a £27.50 seat in the front of the Balcony?

So Seat Plan want to help take some of that mystery out of buying tickets by reviewing all 50,000 seats in London’s theatres.  For that, they need YOU.  It doesn’t matter whether you go to the theatre once a year, once a month or once a week – your opinion is valuable and it is needed.  So this information is there for you to use too, but right now, over 90% of those 50,000 seats are, as yet, unreviewed.  You can work retrospectively on shows you’ve seen in the last few years (dig out those ticket stubs you have lying in a drawer or go through your confirmation emails for seat details) or review your seat after you’ve seen something.

The site is very easy to navigate, so you can search by either the theatre or the show you saw, find your seat by tier, row and number, then fill in as much detail as you can.  How was the legroom?  How was your view of the stage?  Did you have to lean forward to see over the front?  If someone tall sat in front of you, was this a problem?  If you were over to one side, did it curve around more or less than you thought it would?  Did you lose one side of the stage completely?  Were there lots of stairs?  Was it steep?  Could you see this being a real problem for someone with vertigo?  Did you think it was good value for money?  Did you get a bargain or did you watch the show wishing you’d sat somewhere else, even if that meant paying a bit more?  All of this is useful.

By simply filling in these reviews, you gain points – and what do points mean?  PRIZES!  You gain points (well, awards) for reviews, photos of your view (taken while the safety curtain is down), photos of your ticket stubs etc.  50 awards gets you a £10 theatre voucher.  The more detail you provide, the more awards you’ll tot up.  Every month they’ll choose their favourite seat review and that person wins one hundred smackers in theatre vouchers.  I did.  And I think this is the first time in my life I’ve ever won anything.

So come and join the Seat Plan revolution – let’s help each other to make informed choices on our theatre tickets.

Now – what shows to see with my vouchers.  And who to take.  And where to sit.  Ahhhh, I know just the website…

#LDNTheatreBloggers at Soho Grind

“Crema crema crema chameleon….”

This was the terrible brilliant coffee-based pun we named our concoction in the Espresso Martini Challenge at Soho Grind – it sounded better than it tasted.  Out of our team of six, 2 of us couldn’t drink alcohol and another didn’t like coffee – but as an ex-barista, I liked to think I’d learnt enough about coffee to be able to match some flavours.  Matching is one thing, but ratios is another.  Our heavy-handed slugs of almond syrup and agave nectar made for a rather saccharine-yet-bitter concoction – but the name did win us a big bag of roasted coffee beans (which is great – but I now need the equipment to turn this into cups of coffee – anyone got a Gaggia?).

This was my first introduction to a night out with the #LDNTheatreBloggers hosted by the wonderful people at Official Theatre and Seat Plan – there are worse ways to spend a Monday night than making and drinking cocktails with other people who love the theatre as much as I do.

Espresso Martinis – photo lovingly stolen from Official Theatre

Soho Grind did also whip up some delicious mocktails for us tee-totallers – I have no idea what it was called, but asking for ‘the ginger thing – again’ at the bar got the desired effect.  The long list of ingredients (or the ones I can remember) included rhubarb and ginger jam, some sort of syrup with cayenne pepper, apple and pear juice, basil, soda water – and probably other things too.  A nice change given that I’m bored to death of drinking coke and orange juice.  The entertainment was also topped off with music from singer songwriter Bity Booker – a voice vaguely reminiscent of Cerys Matthews, balancing soft, haunting melodies with a really powerful set of lungs.

As a complete newbie to the group, I was made to feel very welcome by Rebecca (OT head honcho) and was quickly introduced to lots of people.  It was a great chance to compare shows with others and get a few recommendations.  Far from being the cliched “networking event” it could’ve been, this was a bunch of like-minded people all together in one place, all excitedly chatting about theatre without the fear that you’re boring anyone who isn’t quite so obsessed with it.  Given that I review for my blog and Bargain Theatre, I’ve now got a little group of people who’ll probably be there on press night (for other blogs and publications), so a few friendly faces to join at the interval, or even to join me when I have a second ticket.

We also got to find out a bit more about Seat Plan – a new website which I can see becoming invaluable in years to come.  They’re calling on all theatre-goers – regular and occasional – to review the seats they sit in whenever they go to the theatre.  The legroom, the view – anything you can say about that particular seat.  Because some seats are listed as restricted view (when they’re not really) and others aren’t listed as RV (when they really should be).  Legroom is very variable from row to row and theatre to theatre.  Often the grid of squares doesn’t really indicate the curvature of the sides, how far back you’ll actually be, or just how vertigo-inducingly steep the rake is.  There isn’t the option to pop into the auditorium to have a look at the seats before parting with money – and for some shows, even the cheapest seats cost a pretty penny.  The more detail people can pool into this website, the better informed everyone can be when booking tickets for any given West End theatre.  Because everyone wants to get the best seat they can afford, whatever their budget.

There’s only one thing I want to know – when can we do this again?