My friend bought tickets for The Birthday Party, and upgraded to a ‘package’ to include the Ambassador’s Lounge. He contacted the theatre beforehand to get advice as we both have mobility issues (in my case lack of balance following a brain injury), and was advised to go for the stalls. Unfortunately the box office did not explain how many flights of stairs would be invloved (two up to the Lounge, two down, across the foyer, another down to the stalls). The staff member in the Lounge was pleasant and helpful, but I don’t think a glass of champagne and a few crisps and an ice-cream tub is worth the price to sit in a small waiting room with half a dozen people - I half expected the announcement that “Miss Whiplash will see you now!” as we all looked embarrassed to be there.
Unfortunately, the front of house staff seemed barely able to cope with arrivals - we arrived an hour early - but has great fun using their walkie-talkies to inform someone that their ‘packages’ had arrived. I fully accept that it is an old and intimate theatre, but there seemed little empathy for the visibly less agile customers- herded down the stairways in a gladiatorial contest for seats. I echo a previous reviewer that we’d be buggered if there was a fire as I doubt the font of house staff would direct anyone to safety.
The Birthday Party was superb. I expected great performances from Toby Jones and Zoe Wanamaker and they were realised. Stephen Mangan had been firmly directed, and was excellent. The unexpected star performance came from Tom Vaughan-Lawler as McCann. Peter Wright was comforting in his commonplaceness, while Pearl Mackie will hopefully go on to more appropriate roles.
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