LETTER: Wrath in the gods as theatres turn drama into a farce

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Sir: David Lister's theatrical grouse ("Listen to the audience", 10 February) omits the raw deal offered in the West End to OAPs - which is less a concession than a condescension. An hour before the performance, one may, if lucky, get a good seat at a discount, but this does mean that one cannot go to the theatre with a younger companion who cannot afford top prices.

The alternative is to book for the balcony, and drag one's rheumatism way, way, way up miles of steep stairs to cram into a midget's legroom and enjoy an excellent view of the lighting apparatus.

The Old Vic offers no concessions to those of us who, 50 years ago, when young and supple, endured its balcony benches in the golden age of Olivier, Thorndike, Evans and Richardson, but it does beneficently offer special rates for the under-25s.

One opens one's expensive programme. It has pages of advertisements which must more than cover its cost, and vaguely relevant aphorisms and quotes, but no explanation by the producer for his/her unorthodox angle on the play. Even if there was, one would not be able to read it in the semi- dark auditorium because it will be printed in white on black, or grey- green on green-grey graphics. Like the handwriting of Christopher Fry's Countess, theatre programmes these days withhold rather than impart information.

PETER FORSTER

London N4

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