Presumably some sociologists have carried out detailed research into why people go to theatres, but, if they have, it has passed this critic by.

To fill the gap, here are some musings based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence, heard or observed during literally thousands of nights out witnessing (and frequently but not always enjoying) the medium that we love.

For many, the attraction of theatre is the expectation that each upcoming show will prove to be the perfect viewing experience. In reality, this is only likely to happen at best 1% of the time but on those rare occasions it proves sublime and would make anyone want to come back.

The constituent parts can vary considerably. Sometimes, the storyline is so strong that it proves irresistible. It might also challenge preconceptions and generate intellectual stimulation that is hard to find in such a well-presented package elsewhere. Occasionally, the message can even be so powerful that it literally changes your life forever.

Using a completely different scale, laughing constantly for a couple of hours is like medicine, though occasionally the effort can almost make you ill, such are the mysteries of the human make-up. Then there are those plays that have a visceral impact which is almost impossible to explain but leaves viewers feeling uplifted.

Moving on from the play itself, the best directors can make work far greater than the sum of its parts. Sometimes, it is easy enough to identify considerable weaknesses in an underlying work while still enjoying a superlative production that lives pleasurably in the memory long after the final curtain has come down. Actors can hit you with a similar impact, one or two of the very best having the kind of stage presence that can be totally mesmerising even when they are reading the metaphorical phone book.

While many readers will be able to identify with and confirm that they are looking for similar elements when they plan a night out at the theatre, we must all recognise that every human being is different.

Some love the idea of seeing something completely fresh and new, while others regard avant-garde theatre as anathema. Nowadays, the word “performance” is often used to distinguish text-based plays from work that might have little surface meaning but, inexplicably to many, pleases those who have produced it and their voluble followers.

At the other end of the scale, we must all have friends or relations who are completely addicted to jukebox musicals. Indeed, in some cases it may be a single jukebox musical that they have visited 10 or 20 times, which will sound like torture to the rest of us.

It was undoubtedly a motivating force in the past, but nowadays, star casting is becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool but also a way of attracting in the kind of audiences who would not traditionally have been seen dead in a theatre.

This leads to strange incongruities, particularly when screen stars with little or no stage experience attempt to take on the classics. While there is no particular reason why somebody who has made his, her or their name in one medium should not be equally adept in another, it has to be said that empirical evidence generally proves this theory to be somewhat optimistic.

Shakespeare, Gogol and others have posthumously witnessed big names trashing their work in the name of populism and one must imagine that they will not have been grateful. While that may be the case, drooling fans of underpowered stars will not care a jot.

Other regular adherents to theatres up and down the country merely love the experience of sitting in a packed audience seeing real people on stage performing for their benefit. They almost literally don’t care what they are watching or, in some cases, sleeping through. Come the end of the evening, the latter group will wake up and perk up, enthusing about something that they have relatively quietly snored through, much of the annoyance of their fellows.

There are almost certainly other categories of theatregoer who have slipped the mind but what we all have in common is a desire to see this medium prosper in the future, overcoming and helping us to forget this pandemics, wars and cost of living crises.