On being oddly upset by the new café at York Theatre Royal

York Theatre Royal: the old arches.

York Theatre Royal has just reopened, after a massive refurbishment. I don’t know, yet, what the auditorium looks like.  I’m sure it looks brilliant. But I had a strange response to the fact that the space under the arches, which used to be in the open air, has been turned into part of the café space and boxed off behind glass.

I don’t know why this should feel like such a big deal. I’m surprised at myself.

I suppose it’s because I feel so attached to the Theatre Royal. When I was 15 I got into seeing plays there in a major way. I went to see everything. I saw the Madness of George III and The Rivals and Dracula and The Way of the World. I got mildly starstruck talking to actors in the bar afterwards. I was a fan.

And I suppose it’s because this used to be public space. You used to be able to wait for your bus there. And now you can’t. Now you have to go in and buy a coffee and look out at the city centre from behind a glass wall. And there’s something I’m really struggling with.

Now, honestly, I know that no one cares what I think. I don’t even live in York any more. I’m not someone who’s scared of going to the theatre, or doesn’t feel like I belong there. And there are good reasons, I’m sure, for the redesign. So the 20 square metres  or so of café behind glass walls shouldn’t affect me at all.  All I can tell you is I feel oddly distanced. And that it’s really thrown me.


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