Theatre seats - what is the minimum to be expected?

I'm upset because I went to the theatre yesterday and had a poor experience. Its a traditional old theatre, and the only seats available were in the Grand Circle, so up in the gods, but a few rows further forward than seats I've had in the past. I was expecting to be a long way back, and to have a fairly restricted view of the stage.

The seats were on the end of a row, and I'm only 5' 2", and it turned out that the head of the woman sitting in front of me was pretty much blocking out my view of the left and centre of the stage, so all I could see was a bit of the right hand side and the centre if I leaned across. That meant I missed out on important details, and completely stopped me feeling engaged with the play on stage.

My feeling is that the seats just didn't have a good enough view of the stage, and that they shouldn't have been on sale. I know that I was never going to have a very good view, but I did expect that if they took my money I should have been able to see the centre of the stage - if they had warned me I wouldn't have booked the seats.

I don't know if I'm being unreasonable? Even within the limits of an old theatre, surely if I buy a seat I should be able to see a play, not just hear it?


  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,198
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited 3 November 2015 at 8:59PM
    unfortunately this is an issue, particularly with older theatres (newer ones normally have a steeper rise so that sightlines are better)

    In part, this is also due to the respective heights of yourself and the person in front of you, which is not within the theatre's control.(and will have been worse if the lady in front of you was leaning forward)

    Most theatres will have information on the websites which tell you which seats are likely to have a restricted view but obviously they can only refer to the theatre itself (e.g. pillars, railings) not to other patrons.

    It sounds as though you would have been able to see the stage if you had been taller.

    I don't know whether you go to the theatre often but if you go in London, check out seatmonkey, which has very good information about most london theatres, issues with seating etc.

    Did you speak to anyone at the theatre? They might have been able to offer you an alternative seat if you spoke to them at the interval.

    it may still be worth it as while I doubt very much that you would be entitled to any kind of refund, they might consider adding to any information they currently provide about sightlines etc.
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • tyllwyd
    tyllwyd Posts: 5,496 Forumite
    Yes, I probably would have been able to see more if I had been taller, but at 5" 2' there are plenty of adults my height or less and there was no discount for short people! To make things worse, it was a play without an interval, so there was no chance to move seats without disrupting everyone around.

    I totally agree that it is a problem with an old theatre - but if they had fewer rows of seats, there would be less of a problem. I did tweet to the theatre afterwards but there was no response at all.
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,742
    Academoney Grad Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    I always check opinions on seats on theatre monkey. It has analysis of every London theatre seats.
    I'm a Forum Ambassador on The Coronavirus Boards as well as the housing, mortgages and student money saving boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Forum Ambassadors are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of
  • geritoh
    geritoh Posts: 5 Forumite
    yes, i am quite petite as well, and found my view blocked when i went for theatres initially. seatmonkey really helped, give it a go.
  • DanStan
    DanStan Posts: 37 Forumite
    I think front row is the only answer!
  • skintpaul
    skintpaul Posts: 1,510
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post I've been Money Tipped!
    did you ask the lady,or staff, to see if you could swap seats?
    breathe in, breathe out- You're alive! Everything else is a bonus, right? RIGHT??
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,262
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    edited 3 July 2016 at 7:31PM
    I'm a similar height and I find that in the older theatres it doesn't matter where you sit, if there's a tall person in front of you you're stuffed. I was at the ballet a few weeks back in a good seat towards the front of the stalls, and the woman in front of me with a head the size of a planet had me bobbing all over the place. There's not really a lot the theatre can do about it.
    Although I did feel obliged to have a word with the idiot who decided to keep their hat on the one time.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • Jake0307
    Jake0307 Posts: 61 Forumite
    How aggrieved you should feel depends on how much you paid, I guess.
    :T :money: :T
  • 74jax
    74jax Posts: 7,921
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    I'm 5 2 and sometimes use the kids booster seats they provide. It is a bit funny at first but then when I can see I really don't care.
    Forty and fabulous, well that's what my cards say....
  • When you bought your ticket did they mention or on the actual ticket say restrictive view?
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