I've noticed with unease that a discussion elsewhere in this section about a production new to London already seems to have turned into a debate amongst a few about one cast member in particular - what about the rest, the play itself, the direction, etc? - and that another (American Psycho) seems to be heading that way even before it has opened, to the extent that I'm now wondering if I would find the experience so distorted by fan fever that I'd be better off cancelling.
Of course people are free to go, or not to go, to the theatre for any reason(s) and to say what they like here as long as they do so politely and with respect for others' views, so maybe this is another case where I'm in a minority, or even alone in my view, but does anyone else feel that the focus on billing is skewing discussion and attendance?
I couldn't disagree more. I never look to see what a production is about, and make my decisions based purely on the venue and cast. I'm open to any story that someone wants to tell, so I never really look to see what it's about before hand (although I'm not a fan of war drama - in any form of text).
There are certain venues I now trust to put on a brilliant production and gladly buy tickets: as soon as the Old Vic announce something new, I'm online booking tickets because they've proven themselves - in the last 4 years of theatre going, I've never been disappointed (though I did miss Much Ado, as I saw the Tennant and Tate one).
But I'm more inclined to buy tickets to a show if it has a name. It can't just be any name - I'm not quite that fickle. But there is a whole bunch of actors out there with a proven talent that deserves to be seen.
When buying tickets I like to be in the front row of the stalls watching an actor I admire doing what they do best. I want to see their eyes, their expressions, their ability. And the best actors are those that make me forgot that they are a known actor. Helen Mirren did it wonderfully in The Audience, Spacey in Richard III, De Vito in Sunshine Boys and somewhat surprisingly, Daniel Radcliffe did too in this very season we're discussing.
I liken it to a gig - why pay to go watch it from the back? You pay for the names that sell the tickets at the end of the day.
Of course, a name doesn't always sell tickets. Whilst he is more than capable of selling 20,000 seats at the O2 - doing multiple nights! - the name Lee Evans alone can't seem to fill a theatre with less than 2,000 seats (and in a comedy!).
But - and it bring this all back on topic - if Grandage hadn't had his £10 seats, would this season have sold as well? I think it's important to remember most seats weren't £10, but still sold, which is all the more interesting as I'd have expected new or casual theatre goers to see Lee Evans over Sheridan Smith/David Walliams/Shakespeare if paying more than £10.