Where to Sit

Most London theatres have three levels. The lowest is the Stalls, which is the largest area of the auditorium. If you like to be close to the stage this is the place to sit. The rear half will be under the levels above, the overhang of which may restrict the view of the stage if the set is very tall. Many theatres have pillars on each level supporting the one above. On each level adjoining the stage there are usually Boxes, seating anything from 2 to 6 people. Many face slightly away from the stage, so at best they are a sideways on view, at worst they are restricted. All seats deemed to offer a restricted view by the producer are sold as such at a reduced rate.

The second level is the Dress Circle, or sometimes the Royal Circle, as the Royal Box is on this level. Many people claim that the Dress Circle is the best place from which to see a show - in a slightly elevated position looking down on the stage. The third level is the Upper Circle, furthest away from the stage looking more steeply down. If there is one, the fourth level is the Balcony. Frequently this has a separate entrance from the rest of the theatre, dating back to when seating there was unbookable unnumbered benches, sold on admission.

Because of their age, restrictions of site and listed building status, London theatres may seem quaint by current standards. In many, the Stalls is below ground level, because of height restrictions when they were built. None have lifts except the New London, the National and the Barbican.