Watching a play at the Minack theatre

Watching a play at the Minack theatre

27th November 2018 2 By Biggsy

The Minack Theatre in Cornwall is a pretty special place; nestled as it is into the cliffs overlooking the spectacular Cornish coastline. The “Minack” outdoor amphitheatre regularly features in the top 10 top theatres in the world which is a huge acolade. It also happens to be #1 of 49 things to do in Penzance according to TripAdvisor. Sometimes a video paints a thousand pictures so check out this great aerial footage below. What an amazing place this is! And on a still September evening we watched a play there to find out what it’s like?

Getting to The Minack Theatre

Claire and I visited as part of a week long tour of the far west of Cornwall and based ourselves in the idyllic little town of St Ives. This is just a 17 mile, 41 minute drive from the Minack Theatre (GOOGLE MAP LINK). We made a day of it and incorporated a visit to Land’s End beforehand which is just 4 miles to the west. You don’t have to watch a play as you can visit the theatre during their opening times when there isn’t a performance on. At the time of writing the entrance fee for this was £5. It’s worth doing this to a), see this unique theatre and b), nurse a coffee overlooking the cliffs in the theatre’s café; maybe even try a delicious cream tea, but the Cornish way of course with jam first and cream second.

The Minack Theatre café. Open for all to visit outside of performance times

The café. Open for all to visit outside of performance times

Check their calendar and book a play

In advance of our trip to Cornwall we booked tickets for a comedy called Party Piece. The classic ‘Pirates of Penzance’ was on just a few weeks later but didn’t coincide with our visit … and presumably would get booked out fairly quickly. We arrived at the venue early, almost first in the car park and sat out on the famous Porthcurno beach far below, accessible along a steep path just past the theatre’s main entrance. After ambling back up and changing into some thicker clothes (the theatre is outside after all) and it was a slightly chilly evening in September, we grabbed a bite to eat from ‘Katie’s Cornish Hot Pots‘ and joined the theatre queue just 20m away. Check what’s on in the theatre’s events calendar.

The view of Porthcurno Beach from up high at The Minack Theatre

The view of Porthcurno Beach from up high at The Minack Theatre

 

Grabbing a meal from Katie's Cornish Hot Pots to take into the theatre nextdoor

Grabbing a meal from Katie’s Cornish Hot Pots to take into the theatre nextdoor

Finding your seat

Not knowing exactly whether we’d be in row A or row ZZ we were keen to get nearer the front of the queue. We needn’t have worried too much. We positioned ourselves in the 3rd row with a great view of the stage. Better safe than sorry though. In any case, the higher up you are the more you will see of the coastline and the more of the actual theatre itself.

So once you get let in you snake down the pathway, reminsiscant of a Tour de France mountain stage descent. After finding your “seat” soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the curry you’ve bought from ths stall above. If you’re likely to get a numb bum then you might like to hire a cushion. But for us a blanket underneath and across our legs was sufficient and the lower 3-4 rows had a moulded concrete feeling to them. Some of the seats further up had grass for seats. Either way a blanket or cushion wouldn’t go amiss.

Snaking down the pathway towards our seats far below

Snaking down the pathway towards our seats far below

Show time!

The play started at 20:00 just as the sun was setting. This was great for us as we could see the coastline on arrival and appreciate the expansive views. Not long after the background slowly began to turn black, tricking us into thinking we were indoors rather than outdoors. For this particular play the whole of the action was “stage right” so we were all looking slightly twisted to the left. No issue but it meant we were sat upright without having much back support.

Finding our seat in the 3rd row at the Minack Theatre

Finding our seat in the 3rd row at the Minack Theatre

 

Watching comedy 'Party Piece' at the Minack Theatre

Watching the start of the comedy ‘Party Piece

On our way out after the show we made sure we were slow to leave. It really is an amazing place and it’s worth dwelling for a while to take it all in. This was the view from the top terrace looking down toward the stage far below. For us it was less about the play itself and more about the surroundings and the sheer uniqueness of sitting out in a theatre carved into this epic coastline. So I can’t recall who told me about the Minack Theatre but I’m glad they did, as now I can recommend it to you 🙂

 

The view from the top terrace of the Minack Theatre stage far below

The view from the top terrace of the stage far below