What to do in the interval at a West End show

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

During a production, it’s common practice for there to be an interval during the show. This allows audience members to leave their seats for a few minutes and stretch their legs, as well as cast and crew members to regain energy and prepare the stage for the second act.

While it may seem as though there’s little for the audience to do except wait, make your interval at the theatre as effective as possible with these foolproof tricks to getting the most out of a performance.

Find out if the show you're going to see has an interval with our guide to running times in the West End.

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Appreciate what’s just happened on stage

As the curtain falls on what will have been a dramatic first half, spend a moment reflecting on the performance you have seen so far. Leaving the auditorium before showing your appreciation through clapping could be considered rude to theatre patrons around you.

Take the opportunity to savour the palpable energy that’s in the air and remain in the auditorium for a few moments. Save the talking for once the house lights have risen and the curtain has fully closed too, as talking mid-performance can be highly irritating for others around you wanting to watch the show.

Be considerate of others around you

While leaving the auditorium during the break, be mindful of others who may be walking past you in case of an emergency. Whether you want to head to a refreshments stand, the restroom or plan on going outside for a few minutes, decide where you are heading rather than dawdling in the aisles. It’s also good practice to keep your arms by your side rather than out, as you don’t want to accidentally elbow someone!

Get some fresh air

If you’ve been sitting in an auditorium on a light summer’s evening or a cold winter’s night, you may feel particuarly warm. Although it’s been proven that attending live theatre can be as beneficial as 30 minutes of cardio, take the interval as a chance to get some fresh air for a few minutes.

From watching the world go by in the interval of a matinee performance to seeing the sunset during an evening show, there’s nothing better than having a breather mid-show to collect your thoughts.

Enjoy a refreshing drink

Whether you brought a bottle of water in your bag or decide to purchase refreshments at the theatre itself, rehydrate in the interval with a drink. While it may take a few minutes to wait for a drink, being patient is key and you’ll be able to sip the drink of your fancy.

Refreshments are allowed in some auditoriums as long as they are in plastic cups, however it’s worth checking our guide on food and drink before deciding to sit down in the theatre with food and drink.

Make the most of the snacks

Enjoy a treat at the theatre and tuck into some of the snacks that will be available at the theatre. From a variety of crisps, sweets and ice creams to food choices only on offer at particular shows, don’t miss your chance to sample the culinary delights of the West End.

Read the show’s programme

With a few minutes to yourself, why not find a comfortable space in the front of house or the auditorium and read the programme? Detailing the cast and crew members, as well as the show’s background, history and general information about the theatre, brush up on your theatre know-how while in the heart of the West End? Even though you’re not in the theatre right now, why not read up these incredible facts about theatres from across the capital.

Go to the toilet

Don’t miss out on your chance to go to the toilet. Even if you’re in the middle of a gripping performance, the urge to use the restrooms can strike at any moment, so curb this with a toilet stop during the interval. Although lines to go to the bathroom may look long, you won’t have to wait a long time to guarantee personal comfort and satisfaction for the second half of a production.

Be prepared for the second act

Once you’ve been to the toilet, had a bite to eat and stretched your legs, get ready to sit down for the second half of the production. As the interval reaches its final few moments, relive the energy that buzzed around the room at the end of the first half and discuss what you think might happen with those you are also seeing a show with.

Heading to the theatre alone? Make the most of a solo trip to the West End with us. As the house lights dim to introduce the second act, get ready to experience the magic of live entertainment once again.

Originally published on

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