It’s very very cold. And very very wet. And very very windy.
If that dark and stormy night dude, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, were still around, I’d be asking him to cover the rest of this post, but as he’s been dead a good hundred and fifty years, I guess I will just have to get on with it all by myself. Just like I have every other post on this gawd-forsaken marathon.
You might be able to tell, I’m having a bad day. And I’m in Kingston. Those two points are not unrelated. Not that I have anything against Kingston.
Other than it being a right pain in the arse to get to, is cold, wet, and windy, and is also the location of a theatre that once rejected me for a job. The theatre I’m going to right now, as it happens. No, I’m not still bitter about it. But thanks for asking.
I scurry through to streets of Kingston, fighting with my umbrella as it attempts to fly me across the road. It’s okay though. I can see it. The Rose Theatre. Just there, up ahead. Doing it’s very best to light up the gloom. I shake out my umbrella and burst through the doors, quelling the desire to shake myself down like a dog.
The box office seems to be on the far end of a wide corridor, so I go over and join the queue. It doesn't take long for me to reach the front, so I give the lady behind the counter my surname and wait for her to pull my ticket from the box.
"And can you give me the address please?" she asks.
I give it.
"Shit, no. Sorry," I say, realising that I just gave her an address I haven't lived in for almost a decade. I manage to summon up the correct one, but as I walk away with my newly acquired ticket, I'm left a little dazed by the whole experience. This marathon is doing a number on my brain. Forgetting your postcode is one thing, but time-hoping back to your early twenties is quite another. I was not having fun back then. That period of my life is best forgotten and I don't want it coming up in a box office queue in Kingston. Shit be traumatic enough without that.
I pass another desk. This one selling programmes.
I join the queue. If anything can soothe me right now it's some papery programme goodness.
"There he is!"
A woman goes up to the man standing just ahead of me in the queue. They do the whole 'how are you' thing and then he looks at her.
"This is for programmes, not tickets," he tells her.
Our queue lapses back into silence.
But the man ahead of me is restless.
He turns in a circle, almost trampeling me in the process. "So sorry," he says and then walks away.
I guess I'm next in line then.
"Can I get a programme?" I ask the programme seller.
"Sorry?" she says.
"I'd like a programme please?"
"Oh!" she says, her face clearing as realisation dawns that the person who has been waiting patiently in line at the programme desk might actually want to purchase one. "That's four pounds," she tells me.
I look in my purse. I don't have any reasonable amount of change for this transaction. All notes. And not even small ones. "Sorry," I apologise. "I just went to the cash machine."
"I'll give you change in pound coins," she says, half-threateningly.
Little does she knows that I fucking love pound coins.
Six shiny pound coins and a programme acquired, I go off to investigate what else the Rose Theatre has on offer.
Walking down the wide corridor, the space opens out into a cafe. In the centre, there's a massive fuck-off staircase which is very pleasing. While the walls are covered in black and white murals that remind me of the woodcuts I saw over in the other Rose theatre. The one over in Southwark.
The tables are packed with people enjoying pre-show drinks.
"This tea is sorting me right out," says a woman clutching a proper mug of tea between her hands.
Everyone looks the tiniest bit damp.
I take up position next to the staircase and try to work out what sort of person comes to the Rose Theatre on a miserable Saturday night to watch a play about a teenage girl who is raped, murdered, and spends her time in the afterlife watching her grieving family from heaven.
Yup, I'm here to see The Lovely Bones.
And by the sounds of it, everyone here has read the book.
Even I've read the book.
Can't say I rated it much. I read it, gosh, I must have been in my very late teens. So, hopefully, things have changed since then and I'll have a new appreciation for the story now that I'm... very much not in my late teens.
There's an announcement over the tannoy. I can't make out a word of it, but given the time, I imagine the house is now open and I should be heading into the auditorium.
I go over to the nearest door and, yup, looks like this is the right one for my seat.
I join the queue. A queue to get into the theatre.
Can't say I find myself in those all that often.
It's moving slow. Real slow.
The Rose must have the most complicated seating system in London if it's really taking this long to get people through.
But when I make it through the doors, the usher is off somewhere else and I'm left to figure out where I need to go all by myself.
I peer down at the row letters. Huh. Okay. Turns out I'm not in the stalls. Or at least, not in the stalls proper. By the looks of it, I'm in the circle of seats that surrounds the stalls. The stalls circle, if you will. I haven't seen many of those on my marathon. The Royal Opera House has one, of course. And bloody expensive it is too. And RADA has one in one of their theatres. Which are significantly less expensive. And now the Rose. Priced somewhere in between at twenty-five quid to sit at an angle to the stage.
The angle grows larger as I make my way around.
I pause, looking at a seat number, and someone makes to stand up.
"Sorry," I say. "I got confused by the three." I point at the seat number. It is a three, but something about being positioned in between a twelve and a fourteen tells me that they lost a digit along the way.
I keep going, until I'm almost at the end, and have a look at my seat.
It's a double-wide. Another thing you find mainly at drama schools.
Can't say I'm a fan of them. You know how little coordination I have. Timing your seating with the person sitting next to you is hard enough when you know them, but even if you're on a theatre-date with someone, unless you have some meticulous research beforehand, there's a good chance you're going to be sharing your bench with a stranger.
Just as I'm thinking these thoughts, my neighbour arrives, and we both grip onto the seat, half-crouching as we attempt not to ram the backs of each other's knees as we lower the seat down.
An usher comes over to talk to a sweet young couple, all of seventeen if they're a day, sitting in the row in front.
"Did we dispose of the bottle?" she says in her best headmistress tones.
"Yeah," says the boy.
"You left it outside?" she goes on.
The usher gives them both a look, laden with significance, before leaving.
The girl sticks out her tongue at the usher's retreating back.
I love Gen Z.
Anyway, it looks like the doors are closing. I wonder if they're going to use that first line.
We all jump as a loud noise crashes into the auditorium.
An actor comes out.
"My name was Salmon, like the fish."
I bloody hate that line. Put me off the whole book. "Like the fish?" Ergh.
As someone in the unusual-surname club, I disapprove of anyone who feels the need to be all twee about it like this. And yes, I know she's like, twelve or whatever. But still. Gross.
Anyway, we're off now.
The set is rather cool. There's a massive mirror over the stage. It's probably as a reflection of the duality of heaven and earth or something, but to me it's an indication of the bravery of the producer. You have to be damn sure you're going to fill a theatre if you are putting mirrors on stage, because damn, they can make a house look empty with even a few gaps in the audience.
I spend a lot of time looking at that mirror. Especially during the rape and murder scene. I know it's integral to the plot. But I've already been traumatised enough this week. The crows are still pecking away at my brain from my visit to the Kiln.
Still, the rest of the audience seems to be into it. They're giving it their all during the curtain call.
Bet they all have boring surnames and think the "like the fish” line is cute.