Sitting comfortably as seating improved at Bury St Edmunds theatre

Theatre Royal staff test the new seats, Emma Martin, Nicki Dixon, Luke Harman, Jo Hambling and Polly Turner
Theatre Royal staff test the new seats, Emma Martin, Nicki Dixon, Luke Harman, Jo Hambling and Polly Turner

Bosses at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds say audiences will be able to enjoy shows in comfort with seating improved as part of a £11,500 revamp.

The seats in the auditorium pit area of the historic Georgian playhouse have been refurbished and upholstered in the first phase of a longer term programme of work – partially supported by the National Trust.

It is the first step in addressing a common complaint among audiences of uncomfortable seating at the venue.

Karen Simpson, director of the theatre, said: “Since I started here a year ago I have had so many people say they had stopped coming because they disliked our seating.

“We are determined to improve the quality of comfort for our audiences and this is just the start of the work we are undertaking.

“The pit is a very important part of our special auditorium and I was delighted to hear a patron say he thought the seats were now better than those of The National Theatre.”

Future work will include improving the circle seating when the correct solution and funds are available.

Meanwhile, bosses want to move the box office back into the theatre and are continuing with a programme of redecoration.

Karen said: “We have replaced carpet and undertaken work to the pit floor over the summer along with the replacement of all our pit seating. With a packed programme there are very limited times when the theatre is available for undertaking such major projects and, of course, we have to be sensible about what we can afford to do.

“We have the added responsibility of ensuring that any solutions meet with the approval of our heritage partners as the theatre is such an important Grade I listed building and a National Trust building.

“That means we also must get approval for our plans from the National Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund which contributed a major grant to the restoration fund 10 years ago.”

The theatre worked with local company Fiddian Interiors on the new seating.