Can quirky West End theatres survive?

The audience at the Old Vic theatre in London

We love to moan about the West End. There are the prices (of programmes and over-packaged cashews, not just tickets), the discomfort (at six foot, my knees have been known to blossom with what I call Mackintosh bruise), the short-run musical disasters (Love Never Dies: will it, won't it?), and of course the publicly urinating audience members (did anyone actually see them?). But the complaints are usually tinged with affection, as if we're discussing an exasperating but adored maiden aunt. Because the West End is ours, and we wouldn't want her any other way, right?

Steve Rich's newly published West End guide is a glorious anatomy of theatreland – or in many cases what theatreland will do to your anatomy - because its tips, warnings and recommendations come from us all. Based on his Theatre Monkey website, it is a great piece of cultural crowdsourcing, and it reflects the extraordinarily personal relationship we have with these old spaces. From urban legends about their ghosts to our love-or-hate relationships with particular seats, much of the pleasure of the book is in the humanity that permeates every detail.

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