On West End ticket prices

Thursday 10th February 2011

West End theatre
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Ian Rickson’s revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour (you know, the one with Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men in it) opened last night in the West End. Having sold out, the show is critic-proof, but what concerns me more is the relentless upwards creep of ticket prices. A couple of weeks ago, there was much backslapping about the fact that the West End was defying the age of austerity by taking more cash than last year. This was not because more people went to the theatre, but because of higher prices. To see The Children’s Hour costs £60, plus booking fees; to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing will cost you £61; to see Shrek will cost you £65. In fact, with premium pricing, these could easily rise, as Mark Shenton reports. Surely, in these troubled economic times, there should be a campaign to make booking fees illegal and a special levy on the profits of commercial theatre — after all, the subsidised sector trains the actors and professionals while the commercial sector makes the profits. Once again the market really isn’t working. A familiar story.

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