Joeblade

I went to the theatre

Recently I wrote about how the theatre was this odd, unfamiliar world, so full of strange terminology and mad prices that it left me cold and confused. In the name of investigative journalism I decided I should at least give it a go before writing it off. I ponyed up the extortionate ticket price for a front-row seat at Breakfast at Tiffany’s and off I went.

This seemed like a good a place to start as any. I’m a fan of both the film and the novel of the same name, there was a matinée screening performance so I wouldn’t have to traipse around central London at night only to get mugged, Thomas Wayne-style, and TV series Pushing Daisies left me with a refreshed love for Anna Friel, who was playing the role of Holly Golightly. Also, she would be appearing naked, and I reasoned that there weren’t likely to be many chances in my life of being in the same room as a naked Anna Friel, so that pretty much sealed the deal.

My initial thought upon sitting down was that I was paying far too much for far too little legroom. Row C, seat 6 — only two metres away from where the action would be but with a sullen Asian pensioner hogging my left armrest and a sullen young man accompanying three girls on the right, it took about five minutes before I started fidgeting and wondering when the interval would be. My second thought was that there was far too much perfume in the air, but luckily the air was soon full of dry ice and tobacco smoke so I was too busy choking to care.

Eventually the play began, and I spent a full 60 minutes absolutely mystified. This? This was what people pay all this money for? For this they dress up?

I didn’t understand it. Was this actually what theatre was or was I just seeing a bad play? There was no subtlety to the performances; I guess there couldn’t be, because if there was then the people in the cheap seats wouldn’t be able to see it. Everyone was shouting, though I’m reasonably confident that microphone technology is available even to theatres these days. Being right at the front meant that the actors were actually shouting over my head and staring out toward the back of the stalls, making me feel like I was about four years old.

Every tiny gesture was exaggerated, blown up to cartoonish proportions so that even the smallest innuendo became a giant, Benny Hill gag. Performances were occasionally punctuated by deep and meaningful pauses, but on stage, a deep and meaningful pause actually looks exactly like someone forgetting their lines. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt though as I’m new to it all.

Actors played multiple roles which confused me, not because I couldn’t tell the difference between characters, but because I couldn’t believe there was a shortage of actors in London. I guess it’s just cheaper to do it this way but when I spent £50 on a ticket I naively assumed that this would more than cover costs.

After an hour the interval finally happened, and I abandoned theatre. I’m not one of these types that feels they have to sit through something they’re not enjoying just because it cost them money, and the nude scene had happened so I figured I’d completed what I’d set out to achieve: see if I enjoy going to the theatre and see Anna Friel’s bum in person. Thank you, Miss Friel.

In defence of the theatre, it was hard to tell whether I was seeing a bad play or whether I just don’t click with the theatre. Regular theatregoers might love all this, and more power to them, but I just kept on thinking how I could have saved a lot of money and time by sitting at home and watching the film. But then, I doubt I could have convinced Anna Friel to pop round and drop her robe for me in person.

By Paul Haine, in