Monday 27 July 2015


Review of London-based theatre website SeatPlan

This post is a little bit different as it's neither a review of a theatre show or a stagey event, but it does tie into my tips for London theatre-goers, such as my post Cheap London: How to see West End theatre for less!

is a theatre website that aims to provide a helpful service to those attending shows in and around London, similar to what Theatre Monkey has been doing for quite some years. SeatPlan joined the London theatre game a few years ago as a website where punters can leave their genuine reviews of seats they've sat in to inform fellow theatre-goers of which spots are good value for money and which are better to be avoided.

I joined the site when it was initially set up, though admittedly I haven't used it much since. However, in recent months they have spurred into action somewhat and through their partnership with Official Theatre it has been put back onto my radar, so as soon as time allows I will dig through my box of ticket stubs to add some more reviews to my account that will hopefully be helpful to other people attending those theatres.

To become the go-to website for seating information of London's West End theatres and beyond, the guys behind the site have asked for honest feedback from some regular theatre-goers so they can optimise what they're doing and genuinely provide a service us stagey people want to come back to again and again before booking our tickets.

The 'Book of Mormon' (the most amazing book site)
  • First things first, I love what these guys are aiming to do. Especially when on a budget it can be an agonising job to figure out what seats are affordable but don't induce vertigo or mean having a pillar right in front obstructing 95% of the stage.  

  • They allow uploading of photos from seats to enhance reviews, which elevates them above the service currently provided by Theatre Monkey.

  • The home page is clean and clear to navigate with both a list of popular theatres and recent reviews, targeting new users and frequent visitors respectively.

  • They also provide incentives such as theatre vouchers for frequent seat review uploaders and regular giveaways for 'best reviews' and those who were most active in a particular month.

The 'Bend it Like Beckham' (needs improvement)
  • The site is reasonably new and so the reviews on there are not yet as comprehensive as on Theatre Monkey. I also miss the overview of colour-coded seats which shows good value vs bad value in one quick glance.

  • While there is a search function in the top navigation for theatre or shows, there should really be a menu accessible from all pages to browse theatres and productions too, rather than just the home page.

  • This is not a bad thing per se but I think it'd be great if the site allows for a larger community feel by letting it easily browse other people's profiles and view their reviews (again, a main menu item would be helpful here). This is particularly useful if you found someone who has similar opinions on seats. It is of course very subjective, but once you've found a like-minded person it's easier to trust their opinion than someone who is perhaps 6ft tall and has a great view from most spots anyway.

The 'Viva Forever' (the one that made me wish I'd left at the interval)
  • When I signed up I had been to see a particular show (*cough* Rock of Ages *cough*) A LOT. So much in fact that I thought I could just add my uh 20 or so seat reviews to the site in one go. No such luck. After going through the effort of finding all my ticket stubs so I could review the correct seats and adding them all to the site, they were then deleted as I was believed to not be a genuine user. I can understand the initial suspicion, but a warning would've been nice or even listening to me when I explained. This didn't happen, hence me getting annoyed and not using the site for the consequent years. 

  • The home page proudly displays "Earn £10 of theatre vouchers by writing 10 reviews". I've so far added 18 reviews (according to the site, there were a lot more before the delete spree) and not received any vouchers, this is misleading and disappointing.

  • A lot of theatres are still missing. So many in fact that for my last 10 or so trips I was unable to add reviews for them (for example: Trafalgar Studios, Greenwich Theatre and Jermyn Street Theatre).

There is a huge amount of potential for a well-organised and frequently updated site such as SeatPlan. As it is, I use them alongside Theatre Monkey because they don't have all the information I want listed yet (though I'm sure that will come over time). From a perspective of a seat reviewer I'd like it to become more user-friendly (main menu items, pop-out menus and a sitemap are a navigation's best friend!), and deliver on their promise of £10 of theatre vouchers by writing 10 reviews.

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