Getting ready to meet the theatre gods

Wouldn't it be hilarious if I died on this marathon? Calm down, there's no need to panic. I have no intention of not seeing out this thing to the bitter end, but it would be quite funny, wouldn't it?

I don't mean getting hit by a car or anything so mundane. It would have to be a marathon related death. Tripping down some steps on my way to my seat perhaps. Or being murdered by a disgruntled duty manager. All excellent ways to go.

Death by theatre.

It certainly has a ring to it.

And if I did die in pursuit of this marathon, I could come back as a theatre ghost. And hang out with all the other theatre ghosts. They wouldn't be able to ignore me then. Not when I was one of them.

Anyway, all this is my way of saying that I have a cold.

A really bad cold.   

Scratchy of throat and runny of nose, I headed of to Barons Court, to see what the shiny talented folk of LAMDA were up to.

That was, if I could find the theatre.

LAMDA has three (as far as I'm aware) and neither their website nor their confirmation email contained any instructions on how to get to any one of them.

I was fairly certain I was on the right street though.

I paused, digging out a cough sweet out of my bag as I squinted through the darkness, trying to make out the buildings.

A car chose that moment to splash past, sending a wave of ditch water from the side of the road in my direction.

I tried to jump away, but it managed to catch me mid leap, coating my leg from my knee down.

Scratchy throat, runny nose, I then had a wet leg to add to my list of ills.

Things are going super well for me right now, as I'm sure you can tell.

It did help focus the mind though somehow, or perhaps merely the eyes, as I spotted a long, modern building up ahead.

It was LAMDA! There was even a brightly lit foyer, with a queue at the box office and a sign reading: The Linbury Studio. 


That wasn't the one I was after.

I carried on.

Past the main door.

Past the entrance to the Sainsbury Theatre.

On and on until the lights dimmed and I was left on a dark patch of road surrounded by construction hoarding.

It seemed I had run out of building.

Where on earth was the damn Carne Studio then? 

I turned around and headed back. It had to be there somewhere. 

I've joked that theatres are making up venues just to torment me, but I didn't think they were actually doing it.


Until then.

I looked back over my shoulder, just in case I had missed it, and stepped right into a puddle.

Great. A wet boot to match my wet legs.

This was not the theatre-death I was after.

There was nothing for it, I would have to ask.

I squelched my back to the Linbury and asked an purple lanyarded usher who was tearing tickets. I hoped that she didn't notice the wet footprints I'd left in my wake.

She frowned, but whether at my question or my dirtying of the nice clean floor, I couldn't tell. "Hmm. I'm not sure the best way. I don't want to send you I'm the wrong direction. Hang on... Excuse me," she said, holding the door open with one foot as she leant out to flag down a nearby gentleman wearing a matching lanyard. "Where is the Carne?"

He sprung to attention. "Ah, it's very close - just head back outside, walk down the building and the foyer is right there."

I was fairly certain I had already walked down the building and the foyer had very much not been right there.

Seeing the panic in my eyes, he led me back out and pointed down the street. The very street I had just walked. Twice.

"Oh," I said, still unsure. "I've been all the way down, but didn't see it."

He looked surprised. 

"I did see the Sainsbury though," I added hurriedly, as if to prove both to myself and to him that I wasn't utterly unobservant.

He smiled, his face clearing. "That's the same foyer."


That made sense. I guess.

"Start time is at 7.45," he added.

It was 7.25.

"Plenty of time."

"Oh yes, plenty of time," he agreed in one of those smooth, highly cultivated voices.

It's only when you meet a properly trained actor with a properly trained voice that you realise how scratchy and messy your own bleating attempts at communication are.

I popped another cough sweet in my mouth and set out.

Back through the dark. Back towards the Sainsbury.

"Am I the right place for the Carne?" I asked the lady at box office. Somehow I still doubted it. There weren't any signs.

She frowned at me. I was starting to get used to that look.

Was I pronouncing it wrong or something? That would explain the looks.

Or maybe it really was all just some super elaborate joke on the part of LAMDA.

A performance piece in its own right. I wasn’t there for as Schiller play. There would be no Don Carlos. Instead I would be taking part in The Search for the Carne Studio. An immersive promenade performance in one act.

I hate immersive performances. Especially the promenade ones.

I looked down. There, fanned across the counter were a series of sheets - featuring the fresh-faced headshots of the cast and their biographical information. One for each actor in the play.


"Yes, you're in the right place," said the box officer at last, before asking my name and handing me a ticket.

Right then. I'd made it. Time to relax.

I found a table. And a programme. They have them out on display with a request to take one. "FREE," they proclaim from their covers. "Take one." I took one. 

"The bar has closed," came the sound of a plaintive voice behind me. "Why has the bar closed so early?" 

It was only 7.30. A full fifteen minutes before curtain up.

With the bar closed, we all gathered around the door to the studio.


I began to suspect that might have been the cause of the closed-bar. The people of LAMDA were ganging up on us, with the express purpose of ensuring that we weren't late.

By the time the doors were ready to open, there was quite the queue waiting to be let in.

But for once there wasn't a rush for the front row. If anything, my fellow audience members were actively avoiding it.

It didn't take me long to figure out why.

The floor in the Carne Studio is totally level. No rake. No dais. 

Instead, it was the seats themselves that varied in height. With each row increasingly taller than the one in front of it, so that those who did chose to sit in the front row had a choice - half sprawl across the floor so that they looked like an awkward tourist in a harem, or crouch with knees up by their ears in the style of a squatting frog.

Neither appealed to me. 

I went for the second row. A reasonable height for my short legs.

Such important decisions made and seat committed to, I had the chance to take in my surroundings.

We were in a church. Or at least, that's what I took the set design to mean - with huge stone doors on either side and a large altar in the middle. The two sets of bench seating positioned either side of the aisle-like stage only added to the ecclesiastical vibes.


As did the dense, smoke-filled air.

I unwrapped another cough sweet. The thought of coughing during a graduation show was nauseating. Which was then another worrying ailment I had to contend with.

I vowed to eat a fruit at some point this week. For the vitamins.

Thankfully, coughing didn't turn out to be a problem as I was too busy risking asphyxiation by holding my breath every time there was a fight scene. 

And there were a lot of fight scenes. Bodies flying all over the place. Blood pouring. Heads smashing against chairs.


Who knew Don Carlos was so exciting?

Anyway, I'm going to have a little lie down now. Don't cry too hard if I don't wake up. I'm in a better place - hanging out with the Nudger, above the dome at the Royal Opera House - watching ballerinas chaîné into eternity.

 Good byeeeeee