Jul 9, 2015

An unedited rant about beer prices in a theatre

I'm in the tickly clutches of Manchester International Festival. On Sunday, I saw Bjork play the Castlefield Arena, and she was her usual uncompromising mesmerising self. And tonight, I get to see Maxine Peake in Skriker.

I won't bore you with my reviews of MIF events. There are plenty of people doing a better job than l'il ole Fats. And indeed, the slight disappointment of Damon Albarn's Wonder.land musical, which I saw a couple of days ago, is well documented on social media.

What I do want to bore you with, however, is something that left me speechless, that made me never want to set foot in a traditional theatre again.

I got to the Palace Theatre having paid £30 for my Wonder.land ticket. I decided to do what other theatre-goers do: buy a drink when I arrived, then order one for the interval. The bar was bereft of pumps, so I scanned their fridge for bottles. The best drink they has was Carling. Yeesh. That's okay. I was out of my comfort zone already: let's live a little and drink Carling.

"Can I have a Carling please? And one for the interval?"

"No problem, hot blogger guy. Lemme just sort that for you now."

This is how the conversation went, honest. The bar person waved a plastic pint glass at me, and I nodded and smiled. No problem. I understood the need for an audience not to have a load of glass projectiles to hand. So far, so good.

She poured the Carling into the pint glass expertly and without over-foaming. It barely reached the half-pint mark. I balked a little. Must do small bottles in theatres, I thought.

"Is that alright, hot blogger guy?"

"Yeah. Yeah, that's... fine." One half-pint of Carling now and one half-pint of Carling at the interval would have to be fine.

"That'll be £8.80 please."

Wut?! Half a pint of Carling at Manchester's Palace Theatre will set you back £4.40. Of Carling. Half. A. Pint. Of. Carling.

I should be raging about the overhang in the circle seats blocking off half of Wonder.land's visuals, about how the tickets were never listed as "restricted view" by Manchester International Festival, about the fact that at least seven people near me walked out of the performance because they couldn't see the fracking thing properly.

I should be raging about that. But no, it's the beer.

And they wonder why theatre is inaccessible for 'normals' like me. A theatre should be attracting audiences, poor and old alike, theatre-savvy or stage-noobs alike. Yet the Palace has the audacity to charge a fortune for a thimble of spittle.

No doubt, you can get a similarly expensive drink at Port Street Beer House, but at least they'll serve you a half-pint that will marry your tastebuds and do disgusting things to your brain at the same time.

"Crumbs. I'd like to cancel my Carling order."

"No problem. Hey, you're really hot, blogger guy."

"If anyone asks, THIS IS EXACTLY HOW THE CONVERSATION WENT."