Stiletto and wheels Stiletto title Sole to sole Stiletto

STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.

WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility. title
ARTS - January 2009
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I hate The Novello Theatre. They do wheelchair access – tick that box - but badly, with no thought or style. I go back only because the RSC will insist on using this venue for their London seasons.

Last weekend, we were running late; parking was difficult; the pavements were rubbish. By the time we got to the theatre, my legs had bounced off the footplates three times, my crunched bones were screaming and I was fed up. We had left the tickets at home.

EaZyD parked me by the lift door and disappeared. I was under a dripping drainpipe, unable to move, drops of water trickled down my head and neck. I could hear the final bell ringing. Walking, we would be in there. In a wheelchair? No chance.

Yet again, their wheelchair lift was not working. I could feel my jaw clenching with irritation. The Novello has a totally rubbish platform wheelchair lift which, even in use, always requires precise positioning of the wheelchair to function at all and never slots smoothly into place at the bottom – a problem every time. There is no easy way to use this lift. Given its’ unreliability, they provide ramp access as an alternative.

The ramp is a nightmare. It has a vertiginous – surely unsafe - slope with a nasty curve at the bottom and a lip and step down at the top. You go down backwards at speed and fall off the end. Getting up requires huge heft to the top where you tip forwards out and onto the pavement – legs off the footplates again! I would love to see anyone attempt this on a power-chair.

When you finally get in, at balcony level, the wheelchair space is not too bad but your companion has to sit with knees under chin for the entire three hours, or more, of most Shakespeare plays. When the production is great, this is all just about bearable but if not - this Midsummer Night’s Dream was incredibly mediocre – it makes you question your commitment both to theatre and the RSC.

Come on guys, you surely can do better than this by your wheelchair users? And, if you cannot, shouldn’t the RSC be using a more accessible London theatre?

live jazz
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