Whether you go to the theatre once a week or once a year, you want the experience to be really special. Inevitably, that means selecting the best play or musical for the occasion and quite possibly an equally memorable dining experience.

One element that can make all the difference between a dream and a nightmare is your choice of seat. Indeed, there are whole web sites dedicated to the topic. One even comes up with a definitive recommendation of the seat in each theatre but this can be overly optimistic.

Theatres now also try to do the same by offering premium seating, which costs a multiple of even the usual excessive prices. Surely, these must be the very best seats? That is not necessarily the case. With dynamic ticket pricing, yesterday’s premium seat might be today’s bargain offered by a cut-price tickets site or, more realistically, at least priced normally because there is not quite the demand.

Price is also becoming increasingly important to more and more theatregoers. There are still some people who will only buy the most expensive version of whatever is offered, whether it be a car, a painting or a night out. They are frequently tourists and suckers for premium seats, although business folk entertaining important customers or clients might also wish to be seen pushing out the boat.

Many people not only do not wish to but cannot afford to pay for good seats, accepting that they are better off enjoying more frequent visits to the theatre in the 'cheap seats', which might still cost £50 each for a top musical.

The topic of musicals is also a good example of personal preference. For many, getting as close as possible to the action and your favourite TV star or, at least, somewhere in the middle of the stalls cannot be beaten. However, particularly for a dance-based musical, there is a strong argument for sitting way above the stage where you can enjoy the pretty patterns created by the choreographer. At the other extreme, even though your wider vision might be limited, being able to look right into the eyes of a great classical actor at a moment of joy or pain cannot be matched. That requires front row seats.

Restricted view is also an acquired taste. In some cases, seats that have such limitations cost a fraction of the normal price and most viewers will not even notice the difference. After all, they may be sitting inches away from someone paying three times as much. When offered seats of this kind, it is worth doing your research to discover whether the impediment is the inability to see 5% of the stage or a nice, chunky pillar that means you are akin to a radio listener.

Bodies are also an important factor, and not only your own. There are few things worse than ending up sitting behind the giant, the fidgetter, the phone freak or the young (in some cases not so young) lovers canoodling throughout. Each of these can as easily be a problem in the premium seats as those that cost far less.

Your own dimensions are also relevant. For example, if you are below-average height or enjoy slumping when relaxing, there is a far greater chance of having your pleasure impacted by any of the above. This can lead to strange situations. A favourite anecdote relates to a couple where the lady landed herself behind the tallest man in the theatre. This was clearly an issue and cannily, the pair swapped seats in the interval—only to discover that the couple ahead had done the same. The outcome was a very swift seat swap after the lights had gone down, leaving everyone happy.

On Broadway, there is a perfect solution, which is to pick seats on what appears to be the wrong side of an aisle, i.e. further from the centre. Then, the aisle space offers unbeatable sightlines.

Premium seats are usually located close to the front and near to the centre. That isn’t good news for the claustrophobic or those particularly concerned about COVID-19. Theatre critics love seats on the aisles, offering a quick getaway and these are also appreciated by anyone who likes to avoid sitting in the middle of a mob, as we have recently discovered increasingly a problem at big jukebox musicals.

Anyone who likes his or her leg space will also need to take care. Many traditional West End theatres seem to have been designed for people who were little more than 5 feet tall. This can literally be painful and, once again, seats on the aisles are the most practical solution. Inexplicably, there are a number of theatres built during the current century with exactly the same problem.

The good news is that with so many different imperatives, there is every chance that you will be able to purchase the seat of your dreams at a sensible price, having done some appropriate research beforehand. Many theatres often have seating plans or maps showing exactly what you are purchasing and how much it will cost.

Failing all of that, if the show happens to be broadcast, then some might nowadays argue that the best seat in the house is on your own sofa.