Apart From That, How Did You Like The Play?

London, The Arts

I’m a pretty easy-going guy. I don’t mind kids squirming in their cinema seats or people arriving late at the theatre. But there’s been a sea-change in london behaviour lately that’s starting to bug me.

Last night I sat through the first half of an arthritic, arch and dismally unfunny new play called ‘The Little Dog Laughed’ (I should have known from that title) which had supposedly been an off-Broadway hit. But my concentration wasn’t helped by the fact that the middle aged woman next to me (Stalls Seat L20, bleached blonde, split ends, you know who you are) sat texting to friends from the minute she arrived to when the first act curtain fell. She sent pictures of herself, did emails and generally caught up on all her correspondence while I tried to keep her mobile phone out of my sightline.

Recently, at a screening of a new print of ‘Alien’, the girl in front of me took photos of her hair and her shoes, talked to friends on the phone, went to the bathroom with girlfriends (three times), had a row with her boyfriend, made up with him, snogged him and ate several sandwiches during the course of the film.

At a performance of ‘Spring Awakening’ last year the girl next to me ate an entire salad on her lap in the theatre (plate, knife and fork, condiments).

I could only conclude that these people (oddly, all women) had confused the concept of Going Out with the concept of Staying In. Am I getting old, or does this seem like unusual behaviour to you?

11 comments on “Apart From That, How Did You Like The Play?”

  1. Not unusual, though the entire salad bit is a bit extreme. I’ve practically stopped going to the movies because too many people thought they were on their couch, and exchanged brillant quips and fascinating snippets about their everyday lives while the film went on on the screen. I once kindly volunteered to go and ask the projectionist to tone down the sound so that their conversation wouldn’t be hampered by the movie.

    I do have fantasies of reinstating the death penalty, at times like these.

  2. Matt Gibson says:

    You are not alone in observing odd meal-based cinema behaviour recently.

  3. J. Folgard says:

    Same here. It’s like this specific type of spectator thinks (s)he’s home or on Granny’s sofa to A) provide an extra ‘funny’ DVD commentary track B) give some insight on the source material, found in yesterday’s free giveaway paper C) explain the complex, multilayered plot to each other, so that the masterpiece can be processed by the collective hive mind.
    And it’s not just young people: I was with a friend watching Altman’s ‘Gosford Park’ and two venerable ladies kept trying to second-guess the entire movie, as if they were unraveling some kind of Agatha Christie puzzle-plot. Out loud. We considered rushing them down the stairs after the movie, but being meek & polite fellows we wouldn’t do this. And one of them already had a cast on one leg. Oops!
    Okay, rant over. Cheers!

  4. Terenzio says:

    Nope, you seem to have just plain bad luck. Perhaps when you book your seat you can request ticket holder next to you has a name like John, Bob or Harry.

  5. Audrey O'Connor says:

    Rudeness like that seems to be epidemic here in the States too. I had an experience at a movie a few months ago. There were four teenage girls in the very front row who traded their cell phones back and forth taking pictures of each other, with flash. The first time it happened I thought, “Gee, I hope they’ve got that out of their systems.” The second time I wondered if they could possibly be rude enough to do it again. The third time I wondered why nobody said anything. The fourth time I thought somebody should go get an usher. The fifth time (now about 45 minutes into the movie) I yelled out, “Enough with the #%#$^&*#$$@ camera phone!!!!.” I got an ovation from the other 200 spineless people in the audience and the four teenagers left.

  6. Stan says:

    I usually wait until the film has been out a few weeks and pick a quiet time to go (around 4.00pm if I can finish work early enough). Sitting near people eating loudly (with mouth wide open), kicking the back of my chair, arriving late, using their phones, talking and so on is at least limited to a few inconsiderate dickheads, and if you’re really lucky, the place is empty! Then there’s only the focus to worry about…

  7. Steve says:

    Exactly the reason we prefer home theater. Guaranteed the best seat in the house, and only our own rudeness to worry about.

  8. Evelyn Sawyer says:

    Can I add to this that I really don’t like people who pay money to go to a gig then spend the entire time the main band is on talking/shouting to their friends and not actually listening to any of the songs? And who always stand near me? Even if I’m standing at the front, leaning on the barrier.

    Or who use me as a tripod for their camera/YouTube footage because I’m short.

    Thank you.

  9. I.A.M. says:

    I went to a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year, which was cast entirely from practising lawyers in the area. Many had extensive acting experience and training, but ‘took silk’ in order to have the luxuries of ‘food’ and ‘shelter’ I’m told are valued by some. They use the annual production of some full-length piece of theatre (featuring a lawyer somewhere in the plot) as a fund-raiser for two purposes: the Law Society’s local charity, and the professional theatre company who donates design and direction team gets the other half of the proceeds to bolster their rapidly diminishing government funding.

    So, there I sit, next to my Father, thinking to myself “damn, these guys are pretty good, given most of the minor cast members have no Shakespearean training” while a woman to my right works her Blackberry like she’s filing a front-page story from the middle of Kandahar. I think I saw both e-mail and Twitter being used over the course of the 1st Act. Inwardly shaking my head, I turned back to the stage and realized that her friend one seat further over was also engaging in the same activity.

    I’m told that the venue’s lights are positioned in such a way that you can see a fair bit of the audience when on stage. The row of seats we were all in was about level with the eye-line of the actors (my preferred location for live performances). After the show I asked a friend of mine in the cast if he had noticed the nit-wits to my right, and he replied “Oh, it happens during every performance so we don’t even notice when it happens anymore”.

    The two girls in their mid-20s to the right didn’t return for the second half. Gits.

  10. Porl says:

    Im in the fortunate position of working in the theatre industry, so seldom pay for tickets, either receiving invites or claiming it as an expense. Which is just as well, as increasingly,live performances are spoiled for me by eaters, texters, chatters, and worst of all – persistent coughers!!!
    Its a shame you cant play a “trailer” in a theatre giving a crash course in auditorium etiquette!

  11. Good post. Interesting read. I read something similar yesterday but for the life of me I can’t remember what the site was though. It’ll come to me – it must be old age 🙂

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