INVESTIGATION: Should you join your favourite theatre as a member? (2020 update part two)

The Old Vic was the second winner of our Best Theatre Venue monsta last year and below are details of what you can expect from patron membership which for us meant sharing a rehearsal room with actors including Sally Field and Jenna Coleman (pictured).

  • Read on to find out what membership of Hampstead Theatre, National Theatre, Old Vic, Other Palace, Royal Court and Young Vic gets you

Would subscribing as a member of your favourite theatre make it easier for you to get the most in-demand tickets? We became a member of 11 of our favourite venues and bought two group memberships to see what the value for money is.

* Hampstead Theatre:

WHERE?: Nearest Tube is Swiss Cottage

COST?: membership is from £60

VALUE FOR MONEY: * (down 2)

WHAT DO YOU GET?: Our last refresh of this investigation was in September 2018 and we’ve seen three productions there since including the return of the brilliant The Phlebotomist, moving Cost Of Living and five-star I And You but there hasn’t been anything here for a while that has excited us.

There’s also a 10 per cent bar discount and exclusive invitations to events although they appear to be during the day which are impossible to attend for those at work.

ARE WE GOING TO RENEW?: Unlikely

*** National Theatre:

WHERE?: nearest Tube Waterloo

COST?: membership is from £25 a year, although we upgraded to £80 priority membership and then downgraded this year

VALUE FOR MONEY: *** (up 1*)

WHAT DO YOU GET?: £25 membership allows priority booking ahead of the public. There’s also monthly newsletters and season brochures four times a year. Quality at the National is often inconsistent and that has again the case since this article’s refresh. The best thing we’ve seen here has been at the smallest of the venue’s three venues and was Death Of England. A thumbs-up for its lockdown YouTube screenings which have included the James Corden-starring One Man, Two Guvnors.

ARE WE GOING TO RENEW?: Yes – we’re excited about Romeo and Juliet starring monstagigz favourites Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley.

***** Old Vic:

WHERE?: nearest Tube Waterloo

COST?: membership of OV Extra is from £5 a month, although we’re currently a patron

VALUE FOR MONEY: ***** (no change)

WHAT DO YOU GET?: Our best recommendation. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare our Old Vic membership with the others because we pay far more for it but it continues to be absolutely brilliant.

Since this investigation’s last refresh in September 2018 we’ve seen the five-star Lungs but the real joy has been the chance to get a glimpse behind the productions that the venue stages and to question those involved with putting them on.

A favourite was the rehearsal room Q&A around All My Sons with Sally Field (pictured above left), Bill Pullman, Jenna Coleman (pictured above right) and Colin Morgan. You never know who you might get chatting to over the canapés at such events and we’ve rubbed shoulders with John Humphrys and Shami Chakrabarti here.

The staff are always attentive and have really made us feel part of the Old Vic family. We’ve been members since 2012 and now even enjoy programme name checks as well as appearing on the wall in the venue’s Penny bar.

ARE WE GOING TO RENEW?: Most definitely. Artistic director Matthew Warchus was working on 4,000 Miles with Dame Eileen Atkins and Timothée Chalamet before lockdown and it still looks set for curtain up.

*** Other Palace:

WHERE? Nearest Tube Victoria

COST?: membership is from £60

VALUE FOR MONEY: *** (down 1)

WHAT DO YOU GET?: Advance notification and priority booking. Generous 10 per cent discounts on fine associated venues at The Other Naughty Piglet during lunchtimes and The Other Gin Palace. We were most excited to be invited to a post-show event for Be More Chill although we weren’t able to make it.

ARE WE GOING TO RENEW?: The Other Palace is one of the liveliest venues that we’re members of and it’s always a pleasure to see artists including Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Richard Curtis buzzing around. As well as Be More Chill, we’ve seen fine musicals including Falsettos and Amelie here.

** Royal Court

WHERE? Nearest Tube Sloane Square

COST?: membership is from £35

VALUE FOR MONEY: ** (up 1*)

WHAT DO YOU GET?: Priority booking, 10 per cent off drinks in the venue’s beautiful downstairs bar and an opportunity to buy Monday tickets for sold-out productions.

ARE WE GOING TO RENEW?: We joined because we think it’s important to support new writing and since this article’s last refresh we’ve been pleased by Cyprus Avenue  and Jack Thorne’s The End Of History was well worth its five stars.

** Young Vic:

WHERE? nearest Tube Waterloo

COST?: membership is from £35

VALUE FOR MONEY: ** (down 1*)

WHAT DO YOU GET?: Priority booking and regular updates. New Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah has definitely brought something to this venue and since this article’s last refresh we’ve enjoyed Death Of A Salesman andTwelfth Night here. We didn’t write about Fairview but it felt groundbreaking, important yet flawed.

ARE WE GOING TO RENEW?: It continues to have the potential to be a hipper Old Vic and the decision will depend on what is realised in the next year. The bar and restaurant are busy and the service slow.

  • Part 1 of this investigation. Picture via Facebook courtesy Old Vic. Disclaimer: monstagigz.com is independent and none of these memberships were provided free by venues
  • Enjoyed this investigation? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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