Very accessible day out
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Hearing Aid, Powerchair
As someone with multiple disability, I so often find it impossible to meet all of my needs. If you want wheelchair assistance you need to be able to hear, if you want loop systems you cannot sit in wheelchair spaces, etc. This was a trip that managed to meet all my needs in one go. There is pretty limited parking in the area, if you go on nights that there are events on in other nearby venues you will struggle, but I was seeing an afternoon performance so we were able to park. In addition to the disabled bays, there are plenty of unrestricted double yellow lines. There is space for taxis to unload at the front of the theatre. The doors are very heavy indeed, I was happy I had a free assistant ticket so I could bring someone, but if you were alone these might be really difficult. We went inside and collected our listening devices (Phonak Mylink at the time of writing, available with connection to T hearing aids or with headphones) and went into the lift down to the bar. This lift (wheelchair lift style rather than passenger lift style) is very snug indeed, you probably wouldn't get a wheelchair and a PA in together, but it is possible to press buttons from outside the lift and quickly run down the stairs to assist at the bottom. The door opens automatically at the bottom, but you come out between tables and are dependent on how widely guests have spread themselves as to how easily you can get through. Wheelchair lift is so snug you would up unable to get back behind the chair to push, so if it's a manual chair with a PA the PA would have to pull the chair out from the front. Bar is standard height only, no lowered bar area. It is entirely possible to get in the lift and then have your PA accidentally press the emergency stop button, locking you inside and unable to hear each other when you are trying to explain how to fix the problem! We went up to the theatre in the other lift which is a standard passenger lift and much larger, we got my big chair and 3 other people in there. Staff helped us get seated and checked the hearing devices were working. The signal was very good, no interference at all, and they play music through the system before the performance so you aren't left wondering until curtain up whether it's going to function. The caption screens were visible from the wheelchair seats and synchronisation with the show was about 98%, so I could follow the whole performance. Here comes the negative - the lift seems to be notoriously unreliable. At the start of the show we couldn't get it to come down and the staff said they'd sort it out because "sometimes it..." and then he left. I didn't think much of that until after the show when we got in and instead of going down it went up, then it opened the doors and refused to go down again. Well, if you are going to be stuck I suppose at least it gets stuck with the doors open. The staff are very well versed in what to do when it won't go, so it looks like this is a procedure they perform often. It did take about 20 minutes to sort out the problem and we got back out to the street in the end. The staff were so lovely that it really wasn't one of those days that you get angry about it, but you have to wonder if this is a lift you can rely on. For me this is a something of a Gold Standard trip (apart from the lift thing) because if they can provide excellent multi-disability access in a small, underfunded, listed building, those who provide less in modern surroundings while turning massive profits are lt with an even stronger spotlight of shame.
Transport & Parking
Dodgy lifts, heavy doors. Above average access from a hearing viewpoint, though, so hard to give a single score.
Very good sized loo, able to turn my large outdoor power chair with ease.
Could not have done more