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An etiquette guide to eating food in the theatre

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An etiquette guide to eating food in the theatre

The debate about eating in the theatre is two-sided. Actors including John Partridge have spoken to the BBC, arguing that chewing on food in the theatre should be banned due to being off-putting for the audience and performers who are concentrating on the show.

Not being allowed to eat in the theatre might not be accommodating for those who have not eaten lunch and dinner or need to eat specific foods at particular times to maintain sugar levels.

It’s a tricky debate. We’ve put a guide together so you will be able to eat in the theatre without affecting anyone else.

Eating in the theatre

Am I allowed to eat in the theatre?

There are some theatres which prohibit audiences from eating during a production. Eating noisy or pungent foods can affect others around you, as their experience of a show is impacted by what you are eating. As well as this, it can also be considered rude to open packets and wrappers during a show as it may negatively affect the theatrical atmosphere.

Tucking into your theatre snacks may seem harmless, but the rustling of crisp packets and the strong smell of spices and herbs could be considered as highly offensive to those on stage.

Before going to see a show, we recommend checking the venue’s policies to see whether you are allowed to bring food and drink into the auditorium.

What types of food are best to eat in the theatre?

You are allowed to eat during a show, yet there are some foods you should avoid.

To help you work out which foods are best to eat in a theatre, we’ve put together a handy list to help you decide what is best.

What to eat in the theatre What not to eat in the theatre
If you need to eat, it’s best to chew on quieter foods. Softer food like marshmallows, jelly sweets and ice cream are good choices. They’re delicious and they won’t detract attention away from the stage. Avoid loud foods such as crisps, popcorn and hard boiled sweets that have yet to be unwrapped. While they may make a great theatre snack, they can be loud and spill onto the floor, which could annoy patrons around you.
Foods without a strong odour are better for the theatre, as you don’t want the smell of your food to impact the viewing experience for those around you. Try to avoid pungent foods in the theatre, such as curries, fried foods or pastries. You don’t want people to watch you eating rather than watching the action unfold on stage, or leave lots of crumbs all over your seat at the end of the show.

What can I bring food in?

You can bring food in its original packing, or packed into a box. We recommend that you bring food in a Tupperware box. This means that once you have taken the lid off, you will not be rustling through packets to get at your sweet or savoury treats, resulting in a quieter food experience for yourself and those around you.

Can I bring in meals from restaurants nearby?

When entering the theatre, you can bring in food from local supermarkets and restaurants nearby. Even though this is permitted, a polite audience member will consider their food choices before bringing in snacks to eat during the show.

If you do decide to pack food with you rather than purchase snacks at the auditorium, avoid smellier foods. Instead, opt for discreet choices which you can enjoy from the comfort of your seat without disturbing others next to you.

Why not eat at a restaurant before you go to see a West End show? We’ve put a list together of restaurants near Wickedrestaurants near The Lion King and restaurants near The Book of MormonSo why not dine out and make your trip to the theatre special.

Want to be in the know about different types of theatres? Our guide is jam-packed with the different theatre staging. 

Photo credit: Steven Depolo (Flickr) under Creative Commons 2.0