If you are reading this article, the likelihood is that you go to the theatre. From this assumption we can also assume that you have had to put up with ringing phones, rustling sweet packets and latecomers.

Aside from the announcement before most shows to turn off your phones, theatregoers are generally not told what they can and can't do, so we thought we'd give them the benefit of the doubt... until now.

Below is our definitive rules that every theatregoer should abide by. Read them, share them and follow them religiously and one day we may just be able to rely on a distraction-free visit to the theatre.


1. Don't just put your phone on silent, turn it off

Unless you are Cameron Mackintosh himself - in which case you're sitting in a box and can do what you want - life is not busy enough to demand that your phone stays on 24/7. Take this opportunity to escape from technology and social media. Press that button on top of the phone, the one that is still in pristine condition because you've never used it, and TURN OFF YOUR PHONE.

2. Arrive on time

Most shows start between 7:30pm and 8pm, most people finish work between 5pm and 6pm. This gives you at least 90 minutes to get from work to the theatre. If you are going for a meal, book somewhere close to the theatre and stick to two courses (skip dessert and have an ice cream in the interval).

3. Go to the toilet BEFORE the show starts

We know that queues for the toilet in a theatre can be as long as the Nile, but getting up during the performance to empty your bladder is not acceptable, it's distracting to those around you and often to those on stage. So either join the queue or go before you get to the theatre, we hear McDonalds toilets are lovely.

4. If you have to eat, only eat QUIET food

If you decide to forgo dinner in order to get to the theatre on time, thank you for being considerate. However do not counteract this act of kindness by proceeding to eat the loudest foods known to man. Common offenders include crisps, any sweets in a wrapper and popcorn. If you absolutely can't wait until the interval to eat, choose quiet foods like marshmallows, soft bread or bananas. For extra brownie points, unwrap any foodstuff before the performance begins.

NB: If any designers are reading this, please can you design a silent crisp packet/sweet wrapper? Thanks in advance.

5. If you have to eat, only eat ODOURLESS food

Skipping the restaurant to be on time does not mean you can bring your meal with you. Our readers have reported instances of Burger King, Kebab and Chinese take-away being eaten next to them during a show. Our experience of Hamlet is going to be severely distorted if there is a sudden whiff of szechuan chicken whilst the Prince of Denmark stabs Polonius. "How now, a rat?"- Quite possibly, if you bought it in Soho...

6. Don't give your partner a running commentary

Most playwrights are skilled enough to write a play in a way that provides you with the information that you need to understand what is going on. Whilst it is tempting to prove your intelligence by continually explaining the plot to your partner, it is extremely annoying to those around you who would rather listen to the actors than you, especially if you are leaning over and blocking the view of those around you. If your partner asks you a question, we suggest a finger to the lips as the appropriate and least distracting response.

7. Don't talk through the overture or songs

Musical numbers are not like ad breaks on TV. Please do not mistake moments of increased volume for an opportunity to have a chin wag, it's rude, distracting and more than anything you will miss out on the fabulous jazz hands!

8. Don't sing along with the songs

Now that you have learnt not to talk during the songs, please do not sing along with them (unless you are at Singalong to Frozen at the Prince Charles Cinema). People around you have paid to listen to the performances on stage not you, save it for the shower. Same goes for quoting dialogue in plays, congratulations you know Ayckbourn like the back of your hand, we don't need to hear it.

9. Share the armrests

We know some theatres are cramped, but unless you are Giant Haystacks (and we know you are not), there is plenty of armrest to go around. Be kind and share.

10. No taking photos or videos in the theatre

So you've managed to get a ticket to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet, lucky you. We're sure your love for Sherlock is only outweighed by your admiration for the Great Bard, but please do not spend the performance of the show trying to get a photo that is good enough quality to post on facebook. Not only have you broken our first rule and not turned off phone, but when that flash accidentally goes off whilst you are trying to be stealth (it's happened to all of us) it's going to be very distracting for dear old Benny.




Have we missed any out? Are there any rules of your own that you would like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!