Updated: Jul 15, 2022
Yes, sometimes venues want people on seats and they might give away those seats for free to fill them.
If you do not already have an account with a seat filling agency, create one today to get cheap tickets to great events. Anyone who wants cheap theatre tickets, in London at least, must have an account with at least one seat-filling agency!
The Bee likes Central Tickets because it is completely free to join and has a ton of amazing opportunities, ALWAYS. But there are others too (Audience Club, OTL, Play By Play).
When a theatre has vacant seats to spare, seat-filling agencies are often asked to discreetly fill up performances. The agency then sends out an alert to all its members to let them know a show has come up. Central Tickets makes you pay anywhere from £4 to £15 per booking to cover their own costs of making this service available to you.
Theatre venues know that members make great audiences because they're all theatre enthusiasts with great appreciation for the art, and that's one of the reasons they are happy to give away seats to Central Tickets. And you, as a member, get to watch great shows for a fraction of the retail price! The Bee has attended amazing performances that would have cost as much as £25 the regular way for as little as £6 a ticket.
You should, of course, be discreet. You should not go around blabbing about what a great bargain you scored. You also need to be responsible enough to show up, and show up on time, if you make a booking. When a seat-filler does not show up, it makes the agency look bad to the venue, which affects the opportunities the agency can access in the future.
Sometimes you get to pick your seat, and other times you don't and must accept whatever seat the box office gives you without complaint.
You might think only poorly rated shows need seat fillers, so you are unlikely to find great shows on the site.
Sometimes, a play just isn't marketed well enough for people to know about it en masse. Sometimes, even for an iconic West End production, it takes time for word to spread. Sometimes, a production has an odd empty seat here or there and wants it filled up, say, because it's press night and they do not want even a single chair empty. And sometimes, even classics experience slumps in demand for reasons nobody really knows.
Now, the Bee cannot divulge any names, but can confirm that in the last three months (leading up to May 2022), at least five different West End - yes, West End, not fringe - performances have been spotted on the site seeking seat-fillers. Right this very minute, there is a play starring an outstanding actor who has acted in some of the highest grossing movies of our time. You would think a superstar name like that would never need seat fillers. They do. They all do, at some point.
And that's just West End the Bee is talking about. If you like semi-mainstream and fringe shows, the options are never-ending. Not only theatre, but also comedy, cabaret, classical music, jazz events, talks and walks. The Bee absolutely loved the last theatre fringe performance it attended in one of London's nicest pub theatres. It cost the Bee £6 via Central Tickets, but for a performance like that, it would have paid £30.