The darkening financial climate is pretty much unavoidable at the minute. If you're not queuing up at the supermarket spending 15% more for half a dozen eggs than you would have done five minutes ago, then 150 journalists and financial advisors are lined up round the block to tell you about it.
Fuel costs are rocketing to record new heights and the price of a barrel of crude oil, if you really wanted to buy one, is nearing the astronomical sum of $200.
That, of course, is not nearly the half of it. The slump in house prices and the rise of inflation mean that families with standard mortgages do not have anywhere near the amount of disposable income than they did two years ago. Match this to tightening credit crunch and the future looks depressingly frugal.
With times being so distinctly tight at the minute, surely families are less likely to indulge in expensive little trips to the West End. Or are they? The Sun, amongst others, are calling 2008 the best year for British tourism in years. With this dodgy financial situation looming, growing worries about carbon emissions and a heroically strong euro, many holidaymakers are choosing their vacations a little closer to home. City breaks and long weekends are on the up which means that, despite what you may think about luxuries like West End theatre trips, they may be a lot more economically sound than taking far flung foreign holidays. A night out at the theatre in London as part of a city break may be just the tonic for the bubbling inflation costs.
This, of course, is if the West End continues to offer the same package as they do now. Great glittering epics like the Lord of the Rings or Gone With the Wind use state of the art stagecraft to recreate their vast dramatic landscapes. Expensive hydraulic systems twist, turn and contort the sets to change from one scene to next. Meanwhile, Hollywood A-listers currently grace the cast lists of anything from Mamet to Chekhov and hoist inflated gate prices as they go. In short, some of the more indulgent shows in the West End can afford to 'shed a few pounds' so to speak.
The morbid financial climate will mean that families have to cut back on certain extravagant expenses, naturally, but it might be fairer to say that adjusting how we use our money will help us out a lot more. With more people choosing to side step foreign holidays in favour of shorter, city breaks then our love affair with institutions like the West End may not be a one night thing after all, but instead be with us well into the long term.
Samantha is a London theatre fanatic and regular West End theatregoer.