Liam Rudden: Bar vital for after-show discussion

The Blue Bar Cafe above the Traverse Theatre. Picture: Esme AllenThe Blue Bar Cafe above the Traverse Theatre. Picture: Esme Allen
The Blue Bar Cafe above the Traverse Theatre. Picture: Esme Allen
SO. What makes a good theatre experience? Other than the production on the stage that is. Perhaps you like to grab a meal before hand. Or a drink. The opportunity to relax and read the programme to gen up on the stars you are about to watch might be important to you. Or maybe you just want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

It has always struck me that the majority of theatres are dead space, as far as the public are concerned, for much of the day, opening an hour or so before a performance and shutting up shop as quickly as possible afterwards.

Which is one of the reasons I enjoy a night out at the Lyceum. Regardless of the product on stage, it ticks all the right boxes (as does the Traverse, above, to be fair), and those boxes include having the opportunity to sit and discuss what has just been viewed in a relaxed and appropriate atmosphere.

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I was doing just that on Saturday, after the press night for Faith Healer, you can read what I thought elsewhere on these pages. Again we ended up reflecting on why the Capital’s other main theatres don’t take a leaf from the Grindlay Street venue’s book.

Then it struck me. Many theatres now have so little seating in their bar areas that the chances are you’d hardly be encouraged to linger longer than you have to, which is a real shame. That said, The Boards at The Playhouse is an exception.

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Fringe, where venues have worked out the value of the “add ons” and arguably make as much money from bar sales and food concessions as they do from tickets sales.

Not that I want to see a “Well Hung And Tender” Aberdeen Angus burger van parked in the foyer of our palaces of entertainment, but a reasonable number of comfortable seats, and maybe the opportunity to socialise for an hour after the show would be a start.

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