2019,  access,  attitudes

An update four years in the making

I used to go to The New Theatre in Oxford a lot but I haven’t been there since December 2014. Long story short we tried to go to see Dirty Dancing for my birthday that year and ridiculous access problems and terrible staff attitudes meant we couldn’t – and I didn’t feel safe trying again.

I wrote about that in several posts back then – Attitude is Everything was the first. A few months later I wrote Third time lucky? and Third Time Lucky? Yes.

We’ve not been back and I even travelled to Birmingham and stayed in a hotel to see a show that I was desperate to once. Even though it was coming to Oxford (I often go to shows in Birmingham with a friend but she didn’t want to go to that one). But this year Kinky Boots is touring and when I tried to book for Birmingham I couldn’t get tickets that weren’t restricted view.

So Mum and I discussed it and decided we would try to go to the New Theatre again.

We went and it was OK. The show was great and I got in and out of the auditorium fine. I was worried about that and didn’t think it would happen. And I was pleased once I was back in the foyer at the end.

The only real problem was that the wheelchair spaces are at the back only and there were a couple of drunk girls in front of us causing a nuisance. It ruined the first half of the show with their attention seeking attitude and keeping talking. Plus repeatedly waving their arms around above their heads and standing up blocked my view. I spoke to the ushers at the interval and they dealt with it (they had already noticed and I’d noticed them noticing but I wanted to be sure they were doing more than notice). They were taken out to speak to the manager and didn’t return. But the ushers came and spoke to me and said they had “chosen to leave”. I was pleased with the way they handled it.

Kinky Boots is a show I’d recommend. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack ever since and one of the songs keeps getting stuck in my head. I don’t think we’d go and see it again anytime soon but I wouldn’t rule out ever going again.

I’m not so sure if we’ll go back to the New Theatre again. It’s a bit of a moot point because at the moment everything they have coming up we’ve either seen, don’t fancy or want to do but can’t do the dates.

But it was still the lift I had all the problems with back in 2014; I could see that from the manufactured date in the lift. And when the access usher came to say hello at the start she asked if we’d been to the theatre. We said we had but not for a few years and Mum explained the problems we’d had. Her comment was that the lift is a bit tempermental but she was surprised I’d had to miss the show because they do have a ramp to put on the stairs.

I wish I could say I can’t believe that four and a bit years after all those arguments about the safety of that ramp they’re still using it and claiming it’s safe. But I’d be lying. All I can say is I won’t be using it and I don’t know if I can risk going there again on the off chance it’s that or nothing.

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