A Beginner's Guide to UK Theatre

by Ed Forteau /
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Jan 17, 2013 / 0 comments

The theatre has been at the heart of British culture since actors traveled the length and breadth of the country millennia ago, and the British Isles have produced some theatrical greats both on- and off-stage including the master of theatre, Mr Shakespeare himself. Let show-and-stay.co.uk cater for all your theatrical needs and give you the best advice for getting the most out of your theatrical experience.


Where to Go

Although every British town has its playhouse, the largest concentration of them can be found in London's West End. Whether you're into exciting plays, hilarious pantomimes or heart-warming musicals, or even if you'd like a little sprinkling of each, a London theatre break is the best way to embrace the spectacle and enjoy a whole host of other attractions and great food on the side.


How to Get There

If your hotel isn't far away, simply take a leisurely stroll to your theatre. If it's a little further, opt for the Tube: London's Underground network, 150 years old and counting, is a quick and convenient way to buzz about the capital. For the best deals on your journey, purchase an Oyster card from a ticket office or special machine. Remember to swipe in and out on the Tube, and only once when you board a bus.


What to Wear

For matinee performances, aka afternoon showings, there is no dress-code. For the evenings, there are two types of theatre-goers: those who doll up, and those who don't. Making a bit of an effort can make you feel good and enhance the overall experience, but on the whole patrons tend to comply with the dress code in their particular group rather than with what everyone else in the audience is wearing as a whole. Cloakrooms are available for your coats, umbrellas and heavy shopping.


Snack Time

If you want the ultimate British theatrical experience, the one snack you should eat during the performance is ice cream from a small paper tub. Generally a member of the front-of-house team will waddle through the aisle during the interval with a large tray full of that creamy goodness. It's also nice to have a drink halfway through the performance. In some theatres it's possible to order your drinks before the show starts, so that the bar staff can have them ready for the interval.


But What Should I See?

South Park fans will love The Book of Mormon, a tale about a group of confused missionaries who try to convert the natives of an African island with hilarious consequences. Hopeless romantics might prefer to see Once, a theatrical adaptation of a cult Irish film of the same name, and younger theatregoers will love the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's celebrated book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. There are of course classic musicals such as Les Miserables, the longest-running of all time, and plays such as Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing which have stood the test of time. Whether you're into thrillers, romantic tales or larger-than-life Disney adaptations, the theatre has something for you.


This guest post was written by Show & Stay, the UK’s theatre break by rail providers. Check out Show & Stay on Facebook.