New Year's Heave

Is it normal to feel quite so queasy on New Year’s Eve?

Let me rephrase that.

Is it normal to feel this nauseated before going out drinking?

I mean, seriously. Have you thought about the logistics of visiting every theatre in London within a single year? That’s 5 shows a week, for 52 weeks. In a row. No weeks off to go lie on a beach far away from any soliloquy beyond: can you make me another of those delicious daiquiris?

233 shows. In 356 days.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

And it’s not just the time constraints (although let’s not ever forget the time constraints). There’s so many other things I need to consider. Like… am I ever going to eat dinner again? What is my stance on re-visiting a theatre if they programme a show that I really really want to see? What about immersive theatre? Do I really have to put myself through that? How the heck am I going to get tickets to Hamilton? And do I need to see both parts of Cursed Child? And how am I going to pay for all these tickets?

Oh yeah… how am I going to pay for all those tickets?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m really asking.

I guess it’s homemade sandwiches for lunch for the duration.

And let’s not forget the programmes.

Oh my god… the programmes.

I love theatre programmes.

I make theatre programmes.

For a living. That’s my job.

I can’t even remember the last time I went to the theatre and didn’t come away with a programme. It must be years.

There is no a play out there bad enough for me not to want a programme.

The 6 (six) 35 litre plastic containers I own, so filled with programmes that the lids don’t fasten down, are testament to this fact. And now my papery children are about to be joined by another 233 brothers and sisters.

Where on earth am I going to put them?

And more pressingly, how am I going to pay for them?

If each of those 233 programmes costs £5 (a conservative estimate given the price of programmes in the West End) that’s going to work out at… oh god…


Over a thousand pounds spent on programmes before the year is out.

I’m going to need a second job.

Or a second mortgage.

Not that I even have a first mortgage. I spent my deposit on friggin’ theatre programmes and avocado toast.

I think I might have just made the biggest mistake of my life.

So, please do excuse me will I barf into this bucket.

And then down a bottle of gin.

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Time to pre-game this shiz

I have a question: what is the proper preparation procedure one should undergo before embarking on a challenge to visit every theatre in London? Some sort of regime based on early nights, a diet rich in protein and fruits, and comfortable shoes is what I’m guessing. Possibly the introduction of early morning runs. For stamina building. And a daily multi-vitamin.

Yeah, well. I’m not going to do any of that. I mean, I take vitamin D every day. But with my need for factor 50 every time I dare venture outside, those little white pills are the only thing that stands between me and my bones crumbling to dust inside of me. Oh, and biotin. For my hair. Not sure if that counts.

Basically, what I’m saying is that to me, healthy habits is just the name of the local convent’s jogging club.

But don’t let that convince you that I’m just barrelling into this unprepared.

Look around you… I built this website/blog thing. Pretty swanky, right?

A website/blog thing, no matter how swanky, is just a glorified diary. Except this one doesn’t have a pink quilted cover with a lock on it. Which is probably for the best. And not only because pink isn’t my colour. The public nature of this challenge, and potential for abject, hideously embarrassing failure is just the thing I need to keep away from the tempting lure of the box set.

So, the website is important. But not as important as: The List.

The list of all the theatres I need to get to over the next year.

I was looking forward to the most exciting step of the entire process. Putting together the spreadsheet. Who doesn’t love some fancy spreadsheet action? Just give me a mug of tea, packet of chocolate hobnobs and a fresh spreadsheet just waiting to be populated with data, and I am set for the evening. So, when Friday night roles around, kettle boiled and the seal and packet of hobnobs teased open I sat myself down with my laptop on my knees and got ready to work my magic on the official list of theatres in London.

Three cups of tea and severely diminished pile of biscuits later I realised the problem.

Did you know that there isn’t an official list of London theatres?

Because there isn’t an official list of London theatres.

I don’t know about you, but I’d expect there to be an official list of London theatres.

I mean, there are plenty of lists. If you google “London theatres list,” there are plenty of websites clamouring to show off their wares. But start clicking on those links and you’ll soon start to notice that though all the lists are all very impressive, what they lack is the one thing I want from them: consistency. LondonNet’s offering doesn’t go much beyond the West End. London Theatre, who you’d think would be the definitive source, seems to have something against pub theatres. While Wikipedia, surely the home of minimally-useful list, seems to also be missing a few. Did you know there was a theatre on the Cutty Sark? Because none of these websites did.

So there was nothing for it. I had to create my own.

All that research. It was going to take days.

Honestly, I’d never been so hyped.

That feeling lasted precisely as long as it took me to insert the COUNTIF formula on my spreadsheet.


That’s a fucking lot of theatres.

There are 365 days in 2019, which means I need to see a show every 1.7 days. Or just over 4 shows a week.

Daunting, but let’s be real. That’s totally manageable. I can even have weekends off.

And then I remembered something. I had a list of theatres. Saved in the expansive personal filing system I call my inbox. I had emailed it to myself back in 2014 (I told you that I had been thinking about doing this damn thing for years). I’d even counted them. There, at the bottom of the list, was the total figure: 241.


That’s nearly 5 shows a week. Every week. For a year.

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for, like… illness. Or holidays.

I went back to the list.

It didn’t take me long to realise that things have moved on in theatre-land since 2014. There’s been a hell of a lot of closures. And this list was a lot more generous in its definition of London than I’m being now.

After an evening spent with a red pen in hand, a highlighter sticking out of the side of my mouth like a old man’s pipe, and my fingers busy smashing away on my laptop keys, I managed to put all my lists together and come up with the one you can find here.

That’s it. That’s the list I’m working to. Those are the theatres I’m going to visit next year.

All 233 of them.

Except, perhaps not. The list includes a lot of theatres that are due to, but haven’t yet actually opened. And there may well be some sneaky pop-ups that may, well… pop-up at some point. But for now, that’s the list.

So, yeah. That’s me done. 2019, I am ready for you.

Although, should probably buy tickets at some point. Hmmm.

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