Liam Rudden: £70-odd for a ticket! Would you pay that?

Bananaman The Musical
Bananaman The Musical

AS you read this, the chances are I’ll be sitting in a theatre in London, watching a show that most theatre-goers will never get to see in Edinburgh.

It may be a new production, such as Bananaman The Musical, which I’m assured is two and a half hours of madcap fun, or a well executed drama like Ink, which I caught on my last trip. The story of The Sun newspaper, it was a beautifully executed coup de theatre on every level.

There are many reasons shows never tour further afield despite their potential. From what I can see, most is down to the risk averse nature of theatre programmers, not just here but across the UK.

Time and time again the same shows come to town, safe in the knowledge that good weekend sales will allow them to hit their targets while sitting with almost deserted auditoriums midweek.

That’s never a good scenario if you’re one of the couple of hundred audience members to have paid big bucks to sit in a theatre that holds thousands - there’s just no atmosphere. It’s not much fun for the performers either.

So I have to ask myself, how many more times can the likes of Blood Brothers, Footloose or Fiddler on the Roof yomp into the Capital.

When it’s not an old favourite allegedly keeping theatres from going dark, often it’s a worthy play - usually well past its sell-by date - from the curriculum.

Gets the school parties in I suppose, but again not necessarily the bums on seats in the evenings, which is fine if it allows things to tick over, but ignores a whole potential audience out there, just waiting for something to tempt them.

Too often, theatre is aimed at the chattering classes, the very ones who look down their noses at productions like Dirty Dancing, which does pack them in, much the way panto does.

Back in the day, theatres boasted something for everyone, both low and high brow, that balance is now skewed.

We could also do with a reality check on ticket prices - £70-odd for a matinee ticket! Seriously!

When someone says to me, “Oh, I only go to the theatre for the panto,” my heart sinks.

It happens more often than you might think. If only they could be courted throughout the year, but it appears to be just too big a risk.

And talking of panto... I’ll be seeing two more during my hop South - Dick Whittington at the London Palladium, where I suspect the all-star cast may just be upstaged by the flying ‘life-size’ double-decker bus I’ve heard so much about, and Aladdin at the Richmond Theatre featuring Count Arthur Strong.

The Palladium could be interesting and may even give a sneak preview of next year’s King’s panto... I’m told some of the blinging costumes featuring in Cinderella right now came from the spectacular Qdos created for London last year.

Highlight of the weekend, however, will be seeing Count Arthur Strong live, a first, and there’s an Edinburgh connection too, Steve Delaney honed his comic creation on the Fringe back in the 90s.