Everything a girl dreams of in a £1 theatre

Posted in Monthly, The Arts at 5:11 am by Pasha

London is like any big city, the quintessential “to do” is take in a show.

When you are visiting and have plenty of money to blow, you go to see an Andrew Lloyd Webber show or a classic, like Les Miserables. But when you are just couple of twenty-somethings, working part-time jobs, and pinching pennies for coffee, your theatre focus changes.

All of a sudden the experience is shifted from long-running classics to theatres that boast £1 admission, popcorn, and beer. There only exists one of those in London, The Prince Charles Theatre.

PC Theatre is all the theatre experience one girl might want, but without the great show. There are the red folding chairs, balcony seating, and even the uber theatre location, Piccadilly Circus. And sometimes there is even a great movie playing, last week it was the Quentin Tarantino cult-classic, Pulp Fiction.

When one takes in a show at Piccadilly in London, I suggest pairing it with dinner in Chinatown, which is just north of the square. Wisely, we chose one of the most inexpensive restaurants, where the patrons where almost all Asian. It is the best trick to finding a great restaurant, minus the Zagat Guide. Always look for diners who are of the same ethnicity as the food, if they eat there, it must be tasty and is surely authentic.

We shared Wonton Noodles with Beef and Vegetables - for only £5.37 - at Café de Hong Kong. The noodles were crispy on the edges, the beef was lean and tender, the bok choy was firm, and the brown sauce was sweet and gingery. It was a fully satisfying and delicious meal.

We meandered to the PC Theatre an hour early, hoping to grab a few of the £1 Stella Artois beers and digest. We bought our tickets earlier in the day, in fear that Pulp Fiction would sell out quickly and we would miss the Friday night theatre experience.

To our disappointment, the bar is only open for ten minutes before the show. We passed the time reading the postcard adverts that littered the room.

When the time finally came, we waited in a line of at least 100 other people who hadn’t showed up early. We downed a tasty Stella and waited while the staff of one cleared the rubbish from Friends with Money, the Jennifer Aniston movie that showed prior to ours.

When the doors were finally propped open the crowd rushed in for the best seats in the house. We slid in four rows from the screen. We would have been more liberal with the screen proximity but I forgot my glasses at home and any farther back and I would have been a squinty madwoman. But the balcony did seem like a rather charming place to watch from.

Unlike in a conventional movie theatre, the PC Theatre’s seats descended by row, so the second row was actually lower than the first. I was perplexed by this arrangement; sure it would cause a viewing catastrophe. But to the contrary I found it more comfortable. A traditional red theatre curtain was opened at the opening previews and drawn again before opening to the wailing opening score of Pulp Fiction.

The movie was better on the big screen than it is on a telly. I noticed several parts of the hacked-up movie that I hadn’t in my previous viewings. I also recognized the movie’s severe violence and rampant drug use. It made my stomach turn, which had never happened on the small screen.

The PC Theatre is charming, for all it is worth anyways. And when you think about only spending a pound on a theatre experience, it is a pretty great bargain.

We slipped out of the aisle just before the movie ended. I guess that is the beauty in seeing an already-viewed movie at the theatre, you don’t regret missing that last scene to beat the crowd.


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