Sunday, April 27, 2008

It Could Be You!

One of the reasons behind starting this blog was to share the joy of going to the theatre. Recent experiences have been seriously reducing that joy for me, and it's not the performances that are responsible. It's you...

OK, perhaps not you personally. Or at least I hope not.

It's you madam, the one so enthralled in the performance you're bouncing in your seat like a 3 year old, and pointing out the wonders on stage to your companion.

Oh and it's you. Yes, you. I know you're not really interested in the show. Your chatting through most of the first act showed me that. So why did you come back after the interval. Take a leaf out of the Whingers book and just head straight to the bar. And shut up.

Oh and not to forget you, sir. Yes it's unfortunate that you've had to step out in the middle of the performance. You disturbed several people in our row, plus all the people behind us. Then you came back, and did the same again. Then you had to go out again. Then you came back again. I can't think of any rational excuse for this, especially in a show that's 1 hour 25 minutes straight through. It wasn't exactly Wagner's Ring Cycle.

Now anyone can have to leave during a show - I had to recently when the heat of a theatre threatened to render me unconscious. Even worse it was a studio performance so there was no subtle way of doing it. I didn't try and return during the first act and also made the choice not to risk disturbing the second act and waited outside for Statler. You have to have a little respect for the people around you and the actors on stage.

Oh yes, the couple in the back row of a theatre who were sharing their love - whilst the lights were up at the interval.

Oh and ladies - the lights are down, the actors are on stage. You're meant to watch and listen to them, not carry on your really interesting conversation.

I hope I'm just unlucky and all the sweetie rustlers, toilet visiters, over indulgers, chatters, fidgeters are only there when I am. But I don't think so - I think they're everywhere. Unfortunately front of house isn't. If people can't be trusted to police themselves then theatres must take responsibility.

There is a balance obviously. You don't want the ushering to become so intrusive that they become part of the problem. However if someone leaves during a performance it has to be made clear that they cannot return. If someone is causing a problem during the first act, then stop them coming back for the second. Maybe the polite people are partly to blame. We don't complain enough, we settle for glares and gripping the arm rest. Who knows what the people on stage think - in some of the venues they must be completely aware of what's going on in the audience.

Most theatres now announce about mobile phones - perhaps they need to make that list longer.

This isn't a new problem (see our 'Guide To Polite Theatre Going' from last year), but recent shows have been extraordinarily bad).

1 Heckle

Bluedog said...

Not me! Not me! At least I hope not.

I completely share your frustrations, and we have had our fair share of 'audience problems' over the years.

Most recently at "The Children" at Dundee Rep, we had some (let's say) very overstimulated people sitting next to us who behaved appallingly, and who should have been asked to leave. Unfortunately, most of the theatre management were tied up with chaperone roles as this was a youth theatre production, so nothing happened.

And at the Traverse last week, a guy in the front row went out mid act (and that's a long creaky climb all the way up to the back) and then was allowed to just wander back in (long creaky climb back down.

But give me a live performance any time. John Byrne was explaining to Janice Forsyth on BBC Radio Scotland Radio Cafe yesterday why he is writing for the theatre, not TV any more - simply because of the excitement of a live medium.

And there is nothing like a packed house enjoying themselves.