I recently read in timeout that people often Google, “Why is West End theatre so expensive?” You’re kidding me, right? I regularly go to the theatre and have never paid more than £30. OK, I sit in the balcony, but the view is generally great and I thoroughly enjoy myself.
There is an argument that seats could be cheaper to allow more families to enjoy the theatre, and to persuade reluctant theatre-goers to give theatre a chance. However, when you compare theatre prices to the cost of the cinema, I do wonder why there isn’t more complaint about the cost of cinema tickets.
I used to love going to the cinema with my parents and my sister when I was younger, but how many families can afford to do that these days. At almost £10 a ticket outside of London, we would now be paying almost £40 for us to go as a family! That is absurd! Even more so when you consider just how much Hollywood’s leading men (That’s another article) are paid. I wholeheartedly object to paying what amounts to a large chunk of my weekly budget on watching a film, where the lead actor has earned more than I could earn in five.
Where I come from, in the Welsh countryside, kids don’t have a huge amount to do. We are lucky, for a small market town, to have an independent cinema, however tickets are £8 a pop, for all. No wonder the kids spend their time hanging around the town doing nothing. If you only have your pocket money to spend, £8 in one go is a lot of money. Actually, for a student on a budget, £8 isn’t the cheapest form of entertainment. Netflix’s appeal grows by the day…
And anyway, I last went to see The Mummy, admittedly towards the end of it’s run in the cinema, but I was one of six in the theatre. Six people they screened the film to. Perhaps if they lowered prices, gets have a lot more people in the cinema and, consequently, earn far more overall. Surely I am not the only person to see an economic as well as social benefit to reducing prices?
But compare cinema to the theatre. Granted, live theatre doesn’t offer you CGI monsters and unbelievable special effects. But it offers so much entertainment in other ways. The subtleties the theatre allows, the intimacy created in the theatre, if the piece provides it, the moving quality of live music. If you are lucky enough to be watching a particularly good play with excellent actors, you have the knowledge that no one will see the performance you see, as the actors react to the audience and what is happening around them. Improvisation, reacting to mistakes or accidents, and interacting with members of the audience gives you a one-of-a-kind experience. For me, the cinema cannot compare. The skill involved – there are no do-overs, you have one shot and one shot only. Theatre actors earn their wage, a modest amount compared to cinema, and do not earn extras from re-runs or merchandising sales.
I’ve seen such fantastic actors in the theatre – Andrew Scott, Daniel Radcliff, Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack, Simon Bird, Anthony Head, the list is endless. From Shakespeare and Moliere to 21st century plays, opera to musicals, ballet to comedies. I am happy to pay a little more for a night at the theatre, which provides much more value for money than the cinema, and with discounted and tiered pricing, offers a treat for everyone.