Liam Rudden: Docklands theatres are a hit

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THEATRES should be old. They should be steeped in history. Places where the ghosts of the greats come out to play after the safety curtain has dropped and the audience gone home.

There’s nothing quite as atmospheric as a shadowy auditorium, lights flickering to a fade as the curtain rises on the latest production to take up residence.

Or so I thought. However, while I still love visiting those historic playhouses of old, recently, I’ve been won over by two very modern structures.

First, the 1900-seat Donald Gordon Theatre, in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre, caught my eye. Watching Dirty Dancing there proved a fantastic experience. A large front of house area allows for a leisurely arrival with plenty of opportunity to grab a refreshment before sauntering to your seat.

The auditorium itself is spacious and beautifully designed. Imagine sitting in an elaborately designed cruise ship - all golden hues and nautical lines. Seats are comfortable and leg room generous.

Last weekend I popped over to Dublin to see High Society ahead of its visit to the Festival Theatre. It was the first time I’d visited the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. Another ultra-modern performance space, its glass and steel outer structure houses a 2000-seat auditorium, washed in rich lilacs and deep reds.

Both theatres are in the docklands of their city - Cardiff Bay and Grand Canal Square respectively.

It got me imagining what could have been had Leith’s docks been creatively developed. Not that Edinburgh needs any more theatre seats, but just imagine...