The worst theatre companion in London

"I was going to stand across the street and yell 'Soup' at you," were Weez's first words after bounding up to me outside the Noel Coward theatre.

It may surprise you to learn that this isn't the first time I've heard that.

I haven't gone by Soup in years, but that's the thing with people you first met on the Twitter. Old habits die hard. And old usernames die harder.

Which is why I should probably start called Weez Janet. Because that's her name.

"I bought something on the way over," continued Weez, I mean Janet, bringing out a small card box.

"What is that?" I asked as a small golden pastry emerged.

"Pastel de Nata. Want one?"

Holy shit balls, yes. I really did.

The box containing the remaining pastry duly handed over, we headed inside.

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself as I had already collected the tickets. I was going to be such a good theatre companion that night. Attentive. Charming. Erudite...

"I need to buy a programme," I suddenly announced in the foyer. Shit.

Well, okay. I could be attentive, charming, and erudite a little bit later. Once all the marathon-relayed housekeeping was out of the way, I'd be able to relax, I told myself. Then all the amusing anecdotes that I was sure I definitely had, would present themselves to me. Something witty about Ivo Van Hove. Or a pun on the title of the play… I couldn’t think of one (and still can’t…) but it was only a matter of time.


"That's £4.50," said the programme seller. I stared at her. Then at the notes in my hand.

"It's the green one," whispered Janet.

Ah. Yes. The green one. 

I handed it over.

"I'm so used to programmes being five pounds," I explained to Janet as we made our way upstairs. "Her asking for not five pounds kinda threw me."

"That whole fifty pence..."

"I couldn't work out if it was more or less. I literally don't have enough brain space for that kind of maths anymore."

Clearly erudite wasn't on the cards for that evening.

Instead we headed to the bar.

"Actually I need the loo," said Janet.

"Okay, you do that and I'll find a spot for us here," I said, turning a circle in the packed bar and seeing a complete lack of spots.

Seats in the bar were not a thing that was accessible that evening.

Loos weren't either, it seemed.

"The door is blocked by two blokes," said Janet returning a moment later. "But there is a ladies down off the foyer."

We retreated back to the foyer.

Oh god, look what a monster this marathon has turned me into... commenting on the most human of needs of my theatre companions.

I even felt duty bound to ask Janet about the facilities as soon as she emerged.

"Nice? Clean?" I asked, already hating myself.

They were both those things.

"But what about the window looking out onto the street?"

Through the door I had spotted the arched windows that lurked behind the row of sinks. Covered by a thin sheet, there was at least the suggestion of privacy. But still, that's not what you want when you're washing your hands.

Our trip to the toilets now complete, I realised that being charming was off the cards too.

I had better bloody be attentive then.

"Sorry," I apologised, struggling with my phone once we'd found our seats up in the balcony. "I just need to finish proofing my post."

Ah. So not attentive then either.

I was officially the worst theatre companion in London.


Janet is very forgiving though.

She even used the time to catch up on my posts.

I really don't deserve her.

"Right, done," I announced, having finally managed to post the damn thing, and even tweet a link to it.

Janet was done too, so we were finally able to concentrate on the important things. Like the decor.

"I like the balcony. You get a great views of those... things," she said, indicating the reclining naked ladies and fat babies that framed the stage.

"I like that one," I said, pointing at the most blatant of the naked babies. "Abs and fat. He's got the full package."

"And a trumpet," added Janet. "Where did he get that from?"

"What about those two?" I said, pouting at the Wedgwood-blue cameos placed either side of the stage. A man and a woman, very much not facing each other. "Who are they?"


Shall we look at the programme?" suggested Janet.

Sometimes I forget that programmes are things to be looked at, and not just collected.

Programme duly brought out, we found the timeline. It started in 1903. Which wasn't particularly promising. These were not Edwardian-looking faces.

"They look late 17th, early 18th century to me," was Janet's opinion.

I agreed. The bloke had definite big-wig hair going on. (All about WEAVE! Holy shit. Thank god for that. You can stand down now, my friend. We got there in the end).

But I have to say, even given the benefit of 24 hours before writing this post. I still don't know the answer.

The Wikipedia page dedicated to the theatre was less than helpful.

It's as if theatre-goers aren’t interested in the minutiae of theatre interior decor, which makes no sense at all.

With a bang, the lights went out.

The curtain rose.

Darkness was replaced by... I don't even know. What is that colour? Not red. Not pink. Not purple.

Wild salmon, perhaps. 

Walls and bed-sheets and curtains and carpet and tiles and dresses and coats, all in that strange, queasy colour.

Then I realised what it was. It was the colour we were never meant to see. The colour of our insides. The chamber of a beating heart. A sliced through kidney. A length of intestine so fresh it's still digesting something...

That reminded me.

"I forgot to eat the thing!" I said as we emerged out onto a side street outside the theatre.

The pastel de nata was still in my bag.

Not for long though.

I ate it on the tube home.