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London's best theatres and the cheapest way to visit them

 Monday, 12th February, 2018

Words by Mark Shenton

We are truly blessed to live in one of the world's greatest centres of English speaking theatre. The only other place that comes near is New York in terms of sheer quantity. But at least London theatre is (still) relatively affordable: top price tickets for Hamilton on Broadway recently topped $1000, whereas in London they've now reached £250. That's a lot of cash in either currency, but it does show the difference. 

Of course, that's the extreme, and there are plenty of cheaper tickets available to other shows. (Visit theatremonkey.com to find a range of special offers to most shows in the West End and beyond that are bookable in advance).

And here are some other ways to visit some of our top theatres more cheaply.

National Theatre. Plenty of shows sell out at the National Theatre -- one of the very best theatres in the English-speaking world, where current and recent hits have included the Critics Circle Award winning productions of Follies (best director, best designer) and Network (best actor for Bryan Cranston). But every Friday at 1pm an allocation of £20 tickets for shows in all three theatres at the theatre are released to buy online, for the following week’s performances in a scheme called Friday Rush.

Globe £5 groundling tickets. Ever since the Globe opened on the South Bank 21 years ago they've been offering £5 standing tickets in the 'yard' in front of the stage -- and that price has not changed. The tickets offer the best, most uninterrupted views of the stage -- and the most participatory experience of its shows.

'Rush' and 'lottery tickets' -- Many West End shows offer what are known as 'rush' or 'lottery' tickets, the day of the performance, in person or online via Apps like TodayTix. Visit Theatre Monkey's guide to these here.

TKTS -- The Society of London Theatre -- the official trade body of the West End -- runs a discount ticket booth in Leicester Square, which sells discounted tickets for the current day and next two. Visit their website to see what is available.

Get into London New Year sale -- it's over already for this year, but every year there's an online discounts sale here.

Standing room -- for shows that are completely sold out, there's often the option of buying standing room tickets -- that at least gets you into the theatre (and you might luck out and spot an empty seat). This is particularly useful at venues like the Donmar Warehouse, which routinely sell out in advance.

Restricted view -- some theatres, like the Almeida, sell 'restricted' view seats; the extent of the restriction can vary from production to production, but sometimes you'll be rewarded with a great view for just £10. 

Fan of musical theatre? Make sure to check out Birdcage, our monthly Live and Unplugged evening with some of the hottest stars of the West end, and our monthly musical theatre Quiz.