{16/04/2012}   Going to the theatre

I often proclaim how much I love going to the theatre.  But in truth I don’t go that often, I get a bit bored and I find it horribly uncomfortable.  Plus cheap tickets seem to elude me.  I find the, “Oh, yes, I’ve seen [current hyped show] and it was wonderful” type line more accurate days after the event than at the time of watching.

My theatre experiences have largely been marred by big heads or big hair bobbing about in front of me, annoyance at other people eating or drinking noisily and, worst of all, phone lights while people try to sneakily video the play/musical.  Unless you have a private box, such annoyances and seat discomfort almost outweigh the joy of seeing real actors really live and really acting.

The most recent play I saw was at a small local theatre and I enjoyed that, in part because we had a whole row to ourselves at the back of a small theatre.  But within the venue was a disco and it was very off-putting hearing the pumping bass and general thumping associated with discos on a floor above.

There is something truly delightful about seeing scenes unfold live on a stage, seeing actors in the flesh, knowing someone could slip up at any moment; anything could happen.  I prefer seeing people I don’t recognise from TV or film because I find celebrities a bit distracting, and not usually because their acting is mesmerising.  I did see Shadowlands with Charles Dance in it, though I didn’t see it because he was in it, but he, and indeed the play, was breathtakingly brilliant.  Likewise, seeing Sir Ian McKellan on stage, he too was too good to be watched merely as celebrity gawping.  Ethan Hawke in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, sadly, was watchable for his unconvincing acting coupled with celebrity “spotting” disappointment.

I am starting to get all misty eyed about some of the wonderful plays and even musicals I’ve seen, from War Horse to Rock of Ages.  This brings me back to my point that it’s only a few days after the event that there is any real chance of my waxing lyrical about a show.  Again, this is because I find the audience experience largely horrible.  At first it’s kind of exciting, especially in old and ornate theatres: the dimming of lights, the final shuffling to get comfortable and the quiet of anticipation before the show starts.  Then there’s the ice cream in the interval, the queues for the loos; it’s part of the theatre experience.  But I really do find the seats uncomfortable, other people largely annoying and I hate not being able to see everything.  And if I sit up so I can see everything, I then feel guilty about the people behind me who won’t be able to see and will be moaning about my big head, etc.

It’s a bit pathetic really because this is stopping me going to see Matilda, which I think will be a delightful, fun musical (I’m not a huge fan of musicals).  Mind you, now it’s just won a host of awards, I doubt there will be an affordable ticket available for quite some time!


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