Yesterday I was taken off to the Edinburgh Playhouse to see Evita.But this spotlight isn’t on the performance but rather on the experience. One of the major reasons I enjoy going to the theater has to do with the communal nature of watching a live performance with others. Not just those I may have gone with but the entire audience, the buzz of anticipation before hand, the gathering hush as the lights dim, the drifting words of an ending conversation, fading away as the owner of the voice realises they are now speaking too loud. Last night was the third night of the production and okay it was a Wednesday evening in late January, but I was surprised just how empty the theater was. There was something missing in the atmosphere, the Playhouse is a large theater and with less than a quarter of the seats taken it not only felt empty but once the orchestra struck up the music was way too loud, not being softened by people and their clothes soaking up the sound.
As I looked around I thought how many others would have come had they been able to buy cheaper tickets? Daughter had only bought the tickets earlier in the day and had still had to pay full price for them. How many others would have come along to see a live show rather than go to see a movie next door if the cost of coming into the theater had been a comparable price? Twelve of us could have gone to see a movie for how much it cost 3 of us to go and see a show! How many didn’t even think of going into the theater because of preconceived ideas about it not being for them? Even though it was Evita, a popular musical rather than something more highbrow. Yes I know that there are cheaper tickets than the ones we had, but we wanted leg room, cinemas have long ago recognised the need for decent seating with sufficient leg room why do theaters play to less than half full houses in cramped seating?
Surely the performers would rather have had a full theater to play to. Surely the promoters would rather have a sell out even if it was a sell out making less money than a sell out at full price. I know that this member of the audience for one would have preferred to have a fuller theater. Now maybe at the weekend there will be full houses so the cry to have less but more roomy seating will fall on deaf ears, but why oh why don’t they offer cheaper tickets during the week so that those of us who go mid week can still have the full theater going experience – after all we pay the full price!