“ 7-10 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BP (Piccadilly / Leicester Sq. tube). Tel (info): 020 7734 9127 Booking: 0901 2727 007. 1 SCREEN with 488 seats. Prices generally range from £1.50-£3.50 (special exceptions!). Members get discounted rates. Membership: £5 „
- both available here, albeit on different nights. Welcome to the oddest and most entertaining cinema in London, as well as the cheapest. You won't find the Prince Charles unless you're looking for it, so take an A-Z and when you find yourself in Leicester Square, locate the Haagen Daz on the corner near the Warner Bros cinema and walk up the dingy and unpromising side street that leads off the square. Up at the top on the left hand side you'll see a grubby looking building that gives absolutely no hint of the delights inside. There's a big sign saying Prince Charles which kinda gives the game away, but even so it looks more like the kinda place that shows skin flicks than the future of cinema. Inside, it doesn't look much more promising. It's all a bit tatty and battered, with strip lighting and a distinct lack of those toxic-looking taco and cheese thingys that you can buy in Warner Bros. The carpets look a little worse for wear and the auditorium itself has seen better days, tho' the screen (there's only one - but four screenings daily) is plenty big enough and there's more than enough seating. So far, so conventional. Yet in all other ways the Prince Charles is the absolute opposite of all the other mainstream cinemas on Leicester Square. For a start, it's cheap - no more than £4 per movie and as little as £1.99 if you're a student or go mid-day. Second, it doesn't show current movies. Third, it doesn't even really have a programme. The only fixtures are the regular showings of the Rocky Horror Show and the Sound of Music, of which more later. The rest of the listings look like someone's selected a list of movies to show by throwing darts at the catalogue of their local video shop. You might turn up on a Monday to find a kung fu triple bill, but return the next day and there'll be a couple of French arthouse pics and maybe an old classic like The Big Sleep. Try again the day after an
d you'll find musicals, maybe, or Westerns. There is no rhyme and reason behind it at all as far as I can see, which is why the best way to treat this place is to make a pledge with a mate to watch whatever's on and stick to it when you pitch up. The only consistency I have managed to find with their listings (which you can, incidentally, find in Time Out and I'm sure they're on the net somewhere) is that they have an uncanny knack of screening those films which you meant to see when they came out but never got round to it. Things like What To Do In Denver When You're Dead, Tea with Mussolini and Swingers. And then, of course, there are the Rocky Horror and Sound of Music events, not so much screenings as pilgrimage destinations for fanatics of both movies. I haven't been to the Sound of Music (every Friday) ones, which are a relatively recent innovation, but I understand that the idea is to be able to sing along loudly to all the songs. The Rocky Horror night is one not to be missed - you'll feel positively out of place if you're not wearing fishnets and black lipstick, and the outfits some punters come up with have to be believed. This is not a good place to come if you haven't actually seen the film before: for one, A large proportion of the audience are very keen to demonstrate their knowledge not only of the script, but the by-now-traditional heckles inspired by various lines - so what with all the shouting poor old Janet and co can't get a word in edgewise. There's also a floor show before the screening, just to get you in the mood, and heaven knows what happens afterwards - I've never dared stay to find out. Now, many of my recent ops seem to have ended with a comment along the lines of "a lot of fun but not somewhere for a romantic date", (single? Moi?) and this one is no exception. On the other hand, if you've been trying to find an appropriate time to confess your l
ove of cross dressing to your partner, this could be just the ticket....
The Prince Charles Cinema is something of an oddity.. it is located just off Leicester Square, behind Haagen-Dazs, and is notable for having the lowest priced tickets in the West End, at £2 (weekdays before 5pm) rising steeply to £2.50 in the evenings and at weekends! They have introduced a member's scheme where you roughly £5 for a years membership or £15 for life membership, otherwise the prices are £1 higher. It is a repertory cinema and shows films that are usually a couple of months past their release date, but if you want to catch a certain film on the big screen, it is worth the wait. As for the actual cinema, it has a small bar in the basement, and there is actually a dip in the auditorium, making it.. unique.. is the only word that springs to mind, but if you go, try to sit either at the front, or at the back, because the middle dips down a bit. Also, this is the cinema which shows (at a higher price!), the Rocky Horror Show at midnight every Friday night, and, that new addition to it's repertoire.. sing-along-a-sound of music, which is, well, exactly what it says. It shows every Friday evening (7.30pm, before the Rocky Horror Show) and Sunday at 1pm (for kids, whatever the age!). People go dressed as characters (nun is a particular favourite) but this is not (luckily) obligatory. It is one of those rare cinemas that has a character all of its own and if you are in London, it's always worth a visit.