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Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park

July 22, 2015

My final visit to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre last Saturday evening was an eventful one.
As followers of the twitter feed will know, I actually saw a woman in the front row reach out from her seat before the show, and start moving a pile of logs placed in front of her as part of the scenery, to improve her view. Never seen a member of the audience interfere with anything placed on the stage in 40 years of theatregoing.

Aside from that, the Park remains one of the highlights of my theatre year. I have their full £50 membership, which I find excellent value as you get £10 off seats, plus the usual “preview” discount of £5. As it has become a family tradition and we buy around 9 tickets per season, that means I’m £££ ahead – and that’s before getting a further quid off each programme, and a bunch of discount vouchers too.

uopenairseat2JUL14 uopenairseat3JUL14
I love the place enough that A18 is also “Theatremonkey.com” sponsored – the label is there for all to see.

It’s so informal that you can wear your old clothes without remark. Indeed, you really should – best glad-rags get ruined if the weather turns nasty, and even if not, you can guarantee something sticky or staining will find you in the air.

The one thing that does amuse me, though, is how much kit you need to take with you when you go.
There’s the obvious – raincoat (even when they predict a dry night… don’t trust it… lucky I didn’t on Saturday). Likewise, even a warm night turns cold around 9pm – so bring something woolly. If you forget, the £5 park “bin liner” style affair is pretty good. So voluminous that it covers every bit of you, and the seat beneath, keeping it all dry – and adds a bit of warmth too. They also sell re-cycled wool (from sheep that died under a bicycle’s wheels, presumably) blankets, if required.

Less obvious are the following, all part of our “kit,” and often regarded with envy by first-timers, who make copious notes:

Large plastic bags. To sit on. When the seats are wet, they stay wet.

Paper Towels (kitchen roll). Take a load. Dries everything, removes muck from your seat far better than the park-issue cloths that have removed a tonne already.

Disposable plastic bag to put dirty towels into…

Sun-block. Even if it’s 70 degrees. Total sunblock in the afternoon and even early evenings can be a must.

Insect repellent. Midges are theatre fans, who knew.

Anti Bacterial / anti viral hand spray. I use a product called “Response Beta.” Better than those gels you can buy, as it deals with viruses as well as bacteria. Can also be used with paper towels in cases of “bird strike” from above. Lucky? Nope.

Plastic bag for your programme. Gets soggy otherwise.

Opera Glasses – it’s a big place with a big stage, and action happens all over.

Umbrella: ONLY for walking to the station. NOT for use in the theatre.

You can, of course, add picnic / drinks etc (bring plastic glasses, the floors are uneven concrete and glass has been heard to shatter every night I’ve ever been – and I’ve not been singing).

Oh, and the “high numbers” side of the theatre is shadier, worth knowing, particularly in the heat of a matinee. There isn’t much in it, if it’s really hot – but a tiny bit can be better than nothing.

My point, though, really is this: it’s worth every moment of preparation, as it is the best theatre night out of the London summer. Go.

2 Comments
  1. Phillippa Peuble permalink
    July 22, 2015 10:55 am

    Excellent. Big fan of Regents Park (and other) Open Air Theatre(s) too for many years but for those rare British days (if you attend a matinee) a hat (to protect your head and not block other audience members from seeing and plenty of water.
    Re: the woman moving the set – words fail me but the more I attend the theatre the more I see the decline in genuine theatre etiquette! Ignorant is a word that often springs to mind.

    • Steve Rich permalink
      July 22, 2015 2:23 pm

      Great point about a hat, Phillippa, you are right :).

      The set mover was the first I’d ever seen. As I said, what scared me was if the thing was rigged for some reason. We would be talking a hand loss if there was explosive under there. Yep, audiences are getting worse sometimes, though credit where it is due – at the National’s “The Red Lion” last week, decorum was amazing… but then the audience was almost totally of my generation and older…

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