The audience, I have found, is the biggest annoyance about going to the theatre.
My last visit was to see The Phantom of the Opera, and so, after a traffic jam on the Oxford Tube, and a mad dash on the bus, I arrived at Her Majesty’s Theatre praying that nothing else would go wrong.
Wishful thinking. I had the displeasure of being seated next to a foreign couple that, despite being pointedly asked to shut up in their own language (Spanish as it happens. Yes I speak Spanish. Look at me go, putting my degree into practice), spent the entire performance asking who was doing what, where and why. Yet this was not the only ambient noise accompanying the musical acts. Oh no, I was also treated to the melodious sound of munching.
Overpriced ice creams sold during the interval were all I used to buy at the theatre. Now, though, it seems like the theatre has become the cinema, where people feel the need to eat their own body weight in junk food during the show- much to the annoyance of everyone else. The icing on the cake, no pun intended, was the sudden drenching of my boyfriend by a glass of wine treacherously balanced by a rather sloshed Essex girl behind us, prompting incessant giggling throughout the duration of the next scene. Admittedly I thought it was hilarious. He disagreed. Damply.
When I could see round the heads of the people in front of me, who were hanging over the balcony railings like their lives depended on it (rather than were threatened by it), the show was spectacular. Mind you, I was so slow that my companion had to point out where the phantom was appearing on the set, as I was often looking in the completely wrong direction owing to the distractions provided by my fellow theatre-goers. That’s what I claim, anyway.
As a struggling student, I rarely have the opportunity to go to the theatre these days. Admittedly the Odeon suits my budget more, yet despite my whinging, I have come to the conclusion that if the show is enjoyed (as mine was, immensely) then the overpriced tickets suddenly don’t seem to be an issue. Just about. Plus, it still beats the cinema as a special night out, something which the slightly sticky, slightly mass- produced atmosphere of the cinema cannot hope to touch. The theatre has character and privavcy.
If ONLY no one else would turn up!