I was recently informed, by a bearded new acquaintance who was accompanying me
on a late night walk through Leicester Square, that theatres in London are, without
exception, “morally objectionable”.
His argument hinged on his idea that the producers of The Book of Mormon charged
£200 a ticket with the express purpose of restricting culture to a certain class, and sat
around cackling while the rest of us banged on the locked theatre doors. And, while
I’m not convinced that London theatres are entirely evil, it’s certainly true that, for a
student who is forced to eat toast for two out of three meals a day, a Stalls ticket in
the West End is decidedly unattainable. Besides, why would anyone leave Oxford to
see a show, when you can see your friends make fools of themselves in a dodgy Burton
Taylor Studio production for a fiver?
But, as a Londoner myself, I have spent my teenage years hunting down ways to
make my small allowance go a long way towards seeing what our capital has to offer
the stage. There are plenty of ways to see incredible theatre cheaply as a student, and
if the only thing standing between you and the Olivier is a five pound note and an
Oxford Tube ticket, you have no excuse.
The National Theatre
The National have a scheme called Entry Pass for 16-25 year olds; sign up online, and
you can book £5 seats for all National Theatre shows. You also get discounts in the
bookshop and the café, and access to special workshops and events. Which, in London,
is less than you’d pay for your pint.
The Royal Court
If you call at 9am on a Monday, tickets are £10. Some shows also have a £12 under-26
concession. Plus, the Royal Court makes it into at least the top three coolest theatres
in London, with an emphasis on new writing, a great bar and an impressive bookshop.
Standing tickets are £5. You’re young, you can stand up for a couple of hours. Get
there early so you can get a good spot leaning against a wall.
The Donmar Warehouse
At 10am on a Monday, the Donmar release online front row seats for £10. The theatre
is so intimate that the front row tickets really are the best seats in the house – you’re
practically sitting on the stage. This will forever be my favourite tip, ever since I got to
see Eddie Redmayne play Richard II about two metres away from me for the price of a
The Bush Theatre
Students and under-26s can join Bush Connect, so that tickets will be £10 for matinees
and £12.50 for evening performances. You also get discounts at the bar.
Of course, you can always queue up outside the Lion King at 5am in a desperate bid
for day seats, but these alternatives are slightly easier during term. I will be informing
my new bearded friend, too, so maybe you’ll see him there.