Middle Class Problems: How to justify the undignified scramble to buy the cheapest theatre seats, the second they go on sale?


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Gazing out at ranks of middle-class theatre-goers, you know that this exciting artform depends for its current vitality and future survival on a new, younger, more diverse audience.

You know that theatre can change things, and that angry and shattered youngsters could see life differently, if only they looked at it through Shakespeare's eyes. Nothing puts your problems in proportion like Titus Andronicus.

And so, hurrah, for those wonderfully cheap seats that make an evening with Tennessee Williams cheaper than two coffees and a cupcake. The cost of theatre-going need no longer deter the curious newcomer.

How, then, to justify the undignified scramble to buy the cheapest seats in the house for oneself, the second they go on sale? Refreshing the screen on the morning that booking opens at 9.57, 9.58, 9.59…

With only 29 minutes in which to find the dates for which cheap seats are still available, for several productions, a mild fever breaks out. This is no time for social conscience: you have queued for these seats, albeit in the comfort of your own home, while emailing friends. You have earnt them. After all, you don't want a repeat of the Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet experience ("You are No 25,692 in the queue…").

And anyway, there are those brilliant seats that young people, who really aren't that organised anyway, can buy on the morning of the show. As long as they get there before those middle-aged, middle-class people with their Thermos flasks.