“ Covent Garden / Drury Lane. „
My reason for visiting the Theatre Royal Drury Lane was to see Oliver! the musical which is currently playing there (which was brilliant and I would recommend anyone to go and see it).
The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is situated on Catherine Street (I know, it surprised me too!) near Covent Garden in London. The nearest tube station is Covent Garden, but this is best avoided during busy periods (such as rush hour). On my visit to Theatre Royal, I caught the tube to Piccadilly Circus and walked from there through Covent Garden and to the theatre. There are also a number of bus stops nearby (and coaches stop outside the theatre), should you wish to travel by bus.
The current Theatre Royal Drury Lane building has been there since around 1812, however previous buildings have stood there before (I believe they burnt down). It is a Grade One listed theatre (one of only three in London - so very prestigious!) and is one of the most famous theatres in the world.
I always aim to get to the theatre in plenty of time for the production. So when I got to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, I went into the Box Office and bought an "Oliver!" souvenir brochure (£6) and programme (£3.50). I took a look at the refreshments, but having seen the prices, I decided to go find a newsagents to buy a bottle of pop. The theatre was charging around £2.30 for a small bottle of pop, where as the newsagents around the corner was charging £1.25! (However, I find the high prices of refreshments quite common at any theatre).
Having got my refreshments I went back to the theatre to see if the doors were open yet. They were. There are different doors to go in through depending on where you are sitting. My Dad and I were sitting on the Balcony and so had to go in through a door to the right hand side of the Box Office. Others could go in through doors situated in the Box Office.
A warning if you have tickets for the Balcony... There are lots of stairs up to the balcony, they seemed a bit never ending on the way up!
Once up the stairs, we weren't immediately let into the auditorium, so we queued up in the hallway. Toilets and a bar could be access from here.
When we were let into the auditorium, a member of staff pointed us in the direction of our seats, which was pretty easy for us as we were seated at the end of row B on the Balcony.
Having sat down we realised we couldn't see half of the stage, even leaning forward meant that we were still missing part of it. So my advice is to pay more and get a decent view, don't get the cheap seats on the balcony! (We paid roughly £20 each for our seats). While I kind of expected to be looking at the tops of the Oliver! performers heads, I wasn't aware that our seats on the balcony had a restricted view and I do think this should have been pointed out to people when booking tickets.
One girl (aged about 8 years old) a couple of seats down from me burst into tears as soon as she sat down because she couldn't see the stage at all! The 2 kids in front of me kept standing up and leaning forward so they could see. Two people behind me managed to get themselves moved into a "Box" (and the only 2 spare seats in the house!). The two girls next to me complained and asked to be moved during the break, but were told there were no spare seats, so they moved to the seats in the row behind us that the other two people had vacated.
To give you an idea of how high up the Balcony is... below is the Upper Circle, Boxes, Grand Circle and the Stalls. You really are looking down
While the production was on, I found that I could see more than I originally thought I would be able to (mainly due to part of the set being above the main stage), but I did find that I spent most of the evening leaning forward.
During the interval drinks, sweets and ice creams were available. Dad decided to get a small tub of ice cream and it cost him over £3 (he did say it was nice), but again this is just inline with other theatres I've been too (especially in London).
Despite the restricted view from the balcony, I really enjoyed Oliver! and even laughed when Rowan Atkinson as "Fagin" said us lot on the balcony were paupers! Well, next time this pauper is going to get come class and pay more for a ticket and get a better view!
Tickets for productions (currently Oliver!) at the Royal Theatre Drury Lane can be bought online from SeeTickets, Ticketmaster or directly from the theatre.
Despite my rant about the Balcony, I'm sure the views from seats lower down are great (as with most other theatres). I found the staff to be polite and helpful and would certainly go there again to see a production (just not from the Balcony!).