Looking to buy that special someone a thespy present for Christmas? Here’s a guide to the best annual theatre memberships.
Cheapest deal: £25 gets you Advanced Membership, which secures you advanced booking – one of the later of the many, many tiers of booking at the NT, but enough to get you a seat for most shows (many sell out). Plus, the NT is almost unique among theatres with memberships in that it extends the runs of its shows, and you can priority book for the extension.
Fanciest deal: if you have £12,000 to spare, Olivier Circle membership includes access to the private bar and a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Royal Court Theatre
Cheapest deal: its bargain basement £35 Friend membership gets you priority booking to the edgy new writing powerhouse – worth it for the tiny 90-seat Upstairs theatre – and (arguably even better) you get a tidy 10 percent off food and drink.
Fanciest deal: for £10,000 you can join the Artistic Director’s Circle, a bespoke package that involves you in the Court’s search for new talent.
Cheapest deal: the £50 Friend rate gets you priority booking (rarely a huge deal, though most Shakespeare plays sell out) and free tours of the buildings. The £60 joint membership is a pretty nifty gift for a couple, though.
Fanciest deal: the positively thrifty £5,000 Director’s Circle membership gets you press night tickets, plus afternoon tea or dinner with the creative team.
Cheapest deal: time was, ponying up for the £75 Friend scheme was basically your only way of seeing anything at the boutiquey Donmar, which was notorious for having shows virtually sell out prior to public sale. Current artistic director Josie Rourke has done a lot to open it up, but a membership is certainly worth it for the starrier shows.
Fanciest deal: the £12,000 Platinum Membership gets you all sorts of crazy crap, including the opportunity to host a ‘private event for up to 20 people’.
Royal Shakespeare Company
Cheapest deal: the £20 Subscriber rate gets you priority booking and is arguably worth it just for the RSC’s limited number of London shows. The £50 Member package is good value if you’re a regular at the company’s Stratford-upon-Avon HQ.
Fanciest deal: the £10,000 Artists Circle package offers all manner of fancy event invites, including Shakespeare’s birthday celebrations – that guy can really party.