Back in July 2020, Andrew Lloyd Webber opened the doors of the London Palladium to show the UK Government that it was possible for theatres to reopen their doors by implementing safety measures like temperature checks, one way walking systems and social distanced seating. Since then, theatres have been allowed to reopen their doors, providing social distancing measures are adhered to. This isn’t possible for many theatres, mainly the old original houses in the West End as seats are so close together and you mostly have to climb over people to get to your seat. However, some of the newer buildings like the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, are more spacious and last night I went along to see Sleepless: A Musical Romance, based on the iconic 1993 film Sleepless In Seattle. But how was the experience and how safe did it feel?
My temperature was taken (without being touched) and I was asked to put on my mask before being allowed in to the venue. Then a contactless bag check took place (where I just opened my bag and they looked in and so I could have hidden anything I wanted to really). Mobile tickets were scanned and I entered the building! We were asked to scan a QR code on our mobile phones which brought up a track and trace form to enter our details incase of a need to be contacted.
Drinks and snacks could be ordered online and collected from a collection point, or there were neat and socially distanced queues to order from the bar and then there was a one way system into the auditorium, where staff advised which isle you needed to use to get to your allocated seat. The seats themselves were well spaced out with the two seats to my left and right left empty. There were people in the row in front of me, one seat to the right which didn’t feel like a metre away but I didn’t feel concerned in my surroundings.
During the interval the one way system worked well and the toilets were spacious and didn’t feel uncomfortable with other people in there. After the show everyone left by the one way system and headed home!
So did the experience feel safe? Yes it did. A lot of it came down to people using their common sense and not standing too close to each other at the bar or in general areas but I feel the theatre did everything they could to make things as safe as possible.