Here is a short guide to everything you will need to know about London theatre! What to expect inside the theatre, what is expected of you. These helpful hints will help make you and your fellow audience members’ theatre experience even more enjoyable.
She obviously didn't read our guide...no phones!
Dress Code – The dress code has changed a lot over the years. Theatres don’t expect audiences to arrive in ball gowns and dinner suits anymore but neither are you expected to wear shorts and flip flops. It is important to look presentable but also feel comfortable so jeans are acceptable to wear. Hats should be avoided as they can obstruct the view of others.
Arrival Time – Give yourself time to find your seats, have a drink and relax instead of rushing in, flustered, stressed and getting in the way of others. Arriving 30 minutes before the performance starts is recommended. Some theatres do not allow customers into a performance if they are significantly late so being on time is really important!
Journey – London is always crowded, but during school holidays and the summer months, you can expect an even busier city! To plan your route to the theatre remember to locate your nearest public transport links and give yourself plenty of time to get there.
Mobile Phones – One of the most distracting ways to put off both the audience and performers is the sound and light of mobile phones, so it is important to switch them off. Take this opportunity to have a few hours of mobile phone-free time! If you really do have the urge to check your emails or make a phone call, do so in the interval but remember to switch it back off again before the next act.
Photography – Photography is strictly prohibited and anyone caught will likely be removed from the audience. Most productions have a merchandise stand where professional photographs, a performance DVD and other memorabilia can be bought if you did want a momento of the show to take home.
Eating – Eating during a performance can be noisy so consider the kinds of food you should take. Many theatres do not allow food to be taken into the auditorium unless it has been bought in the theatre shop.
Talking/Standing – Other distractions that can occur during a show are people talking, persistently moving and standing up. This can ruin the experience for the rest of the audience and divert attention away from those on stage. It can also mean that you miss out on important parts of the show!
Children – There is no surprise that you would want to share a theatre experience with your children. However many productions have a minimum age restriction to protect them from adult themes as well as ensuring other audience members are not disturbed by fidgety youngsters! Of course there are family focused shows that welcome children but it is always worth checking for restrictions before booking.
Bar/Restaurant – London theatres will have at least one bar where you can go before a performance or order drinks for the interval. Some theatres may also have restaurants where you can book before or after-show meals.
Disabled Access – Every theatre has a different level of disabled access but they will have allocated space for a certain number of wheelchairs and mobility scooters in the auditorium. Most have disabled toilets, ramps and lift access but this should always be confirmed with the venue before booking your tickets. Look out for our upcoming disabled access guide for loads more information.
Hearing/Visually Impaired – Almost all shows schedule performances that enable the hearing and visually impaired to attend shows. These can be audio described, captioned and signed in British sign language. It’s best to contact the show venue to find out when these performances are scheduled.
Complaints – If you have a complaint about a noisy audience member, or any other problem, report it to the theatre’s ushers, they should be able to assist you and resolve the issue.
Legroom – Legroom is often at a minimum in London theatres so if you do get the opportunity to choose your seats and you are tall, you may want to opt for an aisle seat so you have a little more space. Seats in the stalls also offer more legroom than the circles and balcony. If you do find yourself in an uncomfortable seat because of the lack of legroom, you may be able to ask an usher if you can move, but this can’t be guaranteed.
Air Conditioning – Generally in newer theatres there are air conditioning systems which can make the auditorium very cool. It is advised to bring something to put on just in case you were to feel cold.