Theatremonkey: A Guide to London's West End
By Steve Rich
Red Squirrel Publishing £9.99
Dateline: 24th October, 2010
Every London theatregoer should know about the Theatremonkey website.
Unlike the BTG, which starts and stops with what is happening on stage,
it offers a unique service by telling its visitors about the best and
worst seats in each London theatre.
The site's proprietor, "The Monkey" might be a wee bit opinionated
but, as a general rule, knows his stuff. Before booking a theatre seat,
a visit to this website should be near enough compulsory.
It will prevent those nasty accidents by which diminutive members of
the public can hear but not see a show, the aurally challenged can see
but not hear and those looking for a bargain too often end up getting
fleeced and able to do neither.
Now, in a reversal of current practice, the website has backed out
into a beautifully produced book published by Red Squirrel, which is
slim enough to fit into a pocket but still printed on glossy paper and
as such a pleasure to read.
The first three chapters feature tips on theatregoing, starting with
planning the expedition, then advising on buying tickets, getting bargains
and procuring entrance to sold-out shows.
The meat of Theatremonkey lies in the 100 pages of Chapter 4.
These provide quick and sometimes quirky overviews of each West End
theatre, as well as those invaluable seating plans, colour-coded and
supplemented by that all-important commentary with advice on the perfect
seat for every visitor and price range.
One wonders how he does it. Has Steve Rich really sat in every seat
in every theatre in London? Maybe so, as he doesn't get much wrong but
admits to receiving a great deal of assistance from website feedback.
While he might be 99% right, your reviewer confesses to having some
doubts regarding the opinions about the Barbican Theatre, where his
usually perfect judgement may be a little out. For those on a tight
budget, the seats at the front and side of the dress and upper circles
can offer real bargains, being incredibly close to the action with very
little restriction of view.
Allowing for a single blip (always debatable), this handy little guide
should prove very popular, particularly with those who either don't
visit the theatre nearly as often as they would like to, or, more particularly,
Anyone falling into either of these categories can keep a copy in a
pocket when they are queuing up at TKTS in Leicester Square and trying
to work out how good "best available" tickets might be. Even
more critically, if they are stupid enough to try out a tout, at least
they will be able to see what they are getting for their large amount
Steve Rich already has a successful brand and, like every other habitué
of Theatremonkey, this grateful reader will be dipping into this book
in addition to the associated website whenever he wants to book West
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