Disabled man sees Iolanthe at the Coliseum

Disabled man sees Iolanthe at the Coliseum

Poster for Iolanthe at the Savoy theatre

The Wife and I went up to London to see Iolanthe, a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta performed by the English National Opera (ENO). It was a fantastic performance, bit frothy but we both enjoyed it. You’re probably thinking that we are rolling in money and with rather aristocratic tastes. Nothing could be further from the truth. We went to the matinee, good seats at the back of the stalls sold by the ENO at a reduced price for people with a disability.

What a surprise

During the interval The Wife stood up and looked around. Suddenly she spotted a familiar face then she saw another. My brother and his wife live in Cardiff but were in London staying with some friends. Both were professional musicians and played in numerous Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas. They also thought the ENO performance was very good.

Disabled man sees Iolanthe at the Coliseum

A serious disability inevitably changes lives. Suddenly it is no longer possible to do things that other people take for granted. When we went to see Iolanthe it was a lovely sunny day. Taking a mobility scooter on the London Underground to the West End isn’t practical. Instead The Wife and I walked. We take the back streets from Euston through the University of London, Fitzrovia, Seven Dials and finally St Martins Lane. Seeing London away from the busy roads is a real pleasure.

Buying tickets for West End shows

When an able-bodied person wants to buy tickets to see a show in London it’s very easy. Now put disability into the equation and it becomes a whole different story. The usual ticketing agencies won’t sell you a ticket if you have a special requirement.

Here is a typical conversation.

The person at the end of the phone will say “You have a disability then speak to the booking office”.

“Aren’t you the booking office?”

“No we just an agency acting for the theatre you must speak to the theatre box office”.

The box office is often only open during office hours and inevitably only a very limited number of tickets at a reduced price for disabled people per performance. In my experience each theatre sells tickets for disabled people in a different way, this is a total nightmare.

Try buying tickets for Hamilton as a disabled person, read this blog to appreciate the problems.

Don’t get me wrong

Some theatres are clued up on selling tickets to disabled people. Perhaps this is why I go to the opera or the National Theatre because their ticket buying process is so straight forward and fairly priced. Also these theatres have good facilities for disabled people such as step free seats and disabled friendly toilets. Many of the central London theatres cannot be adapted. Such a shame, so often their shows are ones that I would like to see but it is totally impractical.

Always an optimist

One day the London theatres will get their act together and improve the lot for the disabled theatre goer.  Everyone must sell tickets to London theatre goers who have a disability. The London theatres must become fully inclusive and accessible to everyone ‘cos they ain’t at the moment.

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February 2018

5 responses to “Disabled man sees Iolanthe at the Coliseum”

  1. Patrick Burke says:

    Dear Patrick

    I read about your visits to see G&S shows with interest.

    A map is published showing Step Free stations on the tube. Do you have a copy?

    There’s a Disabled Help department for Tfl who can supply it.

    I’ve heard of a Society or Association of London Theatres somewhere.
    Would they be able to advise about Accessible theatres rather than having to contact each separately?

    When I took Mother to a concert at Barbican years ago, we had disabled parking right next to a door into the foyer.

    They were able to cope with disabled customers – NOT the same at RAH!
    That’s Disabled – hostile.

  2. R A Leakey says:

    Hi Patrick, how far did you have to walk? It sounds like a mile or two! We are all different and walking is my worst problem at the moment. A couple of hundred yards would be my max distance with my trusty thumb stick. Then a long rest required. I’ve just started to use walking poles but my arms ache more and I’ve got an arthritic thumb! Great! Other than that, all is wonderful… as long as England beat Scotland in the Calcutta Cup!

    • For this trip no walking as I have a lightweight mobility scooter called the Travelscoot. I do as much walking as my condition allows but I need support from a rollator or supermarket trolley. Absolute limit is about 1K but that now takes about 30 mins and I might need a very short rest. Just make sure you take as much exercise as is reasonably possible but not easy when it is so cold. When I go shopping I walk with a supermarket trolley. Wobbly experience for me and the other customers. Good to hear all is well and I don’t think Scotland will win but it will be tight.

  3. Ah Patrick.
    It is all the same in Australia

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