Wow, someone around here really wants soup. Funny, people used to call me 'Soup.' It was a nickname I had, back in the day. It was always super awkward whenever people screamed "SOUP!" at me in the street.
"Hello!" I say, my eyes landing on a very familiar-looking face.
You should recognise her too. It's Weez. Or Janet. Or Weez. I still haven't got the hang of this Twitter-nickname-in-real-life thing.
"I suppose I could have used your real name, but I'm not comfortable with that just yet."
Yeah, real names are weird.
"Where are you off to?" I ask. We're standing opposite Waterloo station. The potential destinations for a theatre-nerd around here are endless.
Janet (Weez?) points at the imposing theatre looming over us. "There," she says. She's off to see A Very Expensive Poison at The Old Vic. Or possibly The Very Controversial Loos at The Old Vic. One of those.
"I'm down there," I say, doing my own point, but this one in the other direction. "I'm going to the young one."
"For the bloody wedding."
"Yeah, I fucking love Lorca." That's true. I do fucking love Lorca.
"I worry about Lorca," says Weez (or should it be Janet?).
"I think it's too late to worry about Lorca," I say carefully. I think Lorca is dead. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I'm almost entirely positive that Lorca is dead. But then, it's so hard to tell with playwrights. You can never truly be sure whether they have actually crossed over, or are just really busy producing esoteric farces in their writing shed.
"Fair," says Janet with a nod. "Who am I going to worry about then?"
After some discussion, we settle on Nicholas Hytner. Well, I mean, someone has to.
And with that, we part, to take up our positions at opposite ends of The Cut.
On my end, there's a bit of a queue at the box office, but it moves fast, with the box officers leaning out over their desk and waving us forward as they finish with each person.
When it's my turn, I give my surname.
"Maxine?" she asks. I confirm that yup, that's my name. "Row B," she says. "Just around this corner."
It's far too early to go in, so I double back, sneaking my way past the box office queue towards the programme seller I'd spotted on my way in.
"That's four pounds, please," he says when I ask for one.
I rummage around in my bag. I've been toting around a new one for a past week or so. It's big. Really big. Which is great. I love it. But it does make paying for things a teensy bit difficult.
"Sorry, my bag's too big," I explain as I feel around for my purse. "I can never find my wallet."
He laughs indulgently, as one does when a woman who is old enough to be your... aunt... is trying to play off her patheticness with humour.
I do find the purse though, give him a fiver, and get a programme, with change, in return.
I check the time.
It's still far too early. I try walking around the bar, but the thing about the Young Vic bar is that, it's really nice. And everyone knows it's really nice. Which means that it's super crowded. And I don't do well with crowds.
So I go outside, and find a vacant patch of wall to lean against.
There's a big group of young people here. They look super excited.
"You can go in now!" says one of them. "You might want to go in and look at the set. Especially the lower sixth. Go in! Go in! Go in!"
It takes my brain way too long to realise that the lower sixth is not some bottom portion of the set, but a year group. And these young people are actually here on a school trip.
I am so old, and so tired, it's not even funny anymore.
Well, fuck it. I'm also going in to have a look at the set. I'm hoping it's an interesting one if a teacher is getting all hopped up about it.
I squeeze myself through the crowds clogging the gaps between the tables, looping my way around the bar towards the door to the main space at the Young Vic.
The wall has been painted up with an arrow to show the way. "Blood Wedding," it says, in an exact reenactment of all my personal nuptial-based fantasies.
There's a young usher on the door. I mean a Welcome Teamer. Sorry. I almost forgot we were at the Young Vic tonight. No ushers here. Anyway, he thanks the equally young men ahead of me with a "cheers!" but drops the laddishness as I step forward. It seems that I've been upgraded from aunt to full-on grandmother, as is my proper place in this world.
"It's one hour fifty with no readmission," he explains carefully before waving me through.
Inside the door, just as the dark corridor splits of into two opposite directions, another usher, shit, I mean, another Welcome Teamer, lies in wait. To welcome team us.
"This way?" I say, pointing down one corridor. I've read the signage. I know where I'm going.
"That's right!" she confirms cheerfully, and I'm on my way.
There's a short line of people queueing down here.
They must be the lottery ticket folks, waiting to be told where they'll be sitting.
I've done that before. Bought one of those tickets and hung out in the corridor until everyone else has been seated, then sent in to fill in the gaps.
I considered going for it again this time. A bit of experience to tell you about. But... eh. My ticket was only a tenner anyway. And nine months into the marathon I'm pretty exhausted. Let's keep this shit as easy as we can for the last leg of this challenge, shall we?
I keep on walking, until the wall gives way to an opening into the auditorium.
A Welcome Teamer stands waiting.
"B57?" I ask, showing him my ticket.
"B57. B57," he repeats look around him. "Err, over here, and... yeah... second row."
He points across the stage to aisle on the opposite side.
Tonight, we're in the round. Or rather, we're in the octagon.
I go up the steps, to the second row, and squint at the seat on the end. The seat numbers are on tiny little metal squares, slipped into equally tiny frames at the top of the backrest. Except this little square is making a break for it. I thwart its plans, tapping it back into place.
And what a funny seat it is.
Slightly apart from its neighbour and set at an angle. Like that single jump seat you find in black cabs, which the drunkest girl on any night out will always manage to find herself sitting in, and falling off, on the way home.
I don't think I'll be falling off this one.
It's wide and comfortable, and there's a board in front of my legs that will prevent my tumbling forward into the front row.
What it doesn't have, is a great view.
Oh, I can see most of what's going on in the octagon. For all that teacher's encouragement to look at the set, there isn't all that much to look out. Just a pile if jumbled chairs in the middle and a cross hanging from the ceiling. That's what I can see at least. But I suspect there is something else hidden from view by the wall of the aisle on my side.
Perhaps I should have got myself one of those lottery tickets after all.
I get out my programme and have a look. There's a transcribed conversation between the director Yael Farber, and Kwame Kwei-Armah, which kinda confirms to me that the Young Vic is pushing hard into the cult of the artistic director. But whatever. Then there's another discussion with the director, but this one is with the adaptor, Marina Carr. That's interesting. I guess.
But between these two spreads is a timeline of Lorca's life, and I am relieved to confirm, that yes, he is indeed, no longer in the land of the living. He was executed in 1936.
They never found his grave though...
The Welcome Teamers make their way around the octagon, hoping up the stairs to make sure we're all behaving before the performance starts.
"If you have your phones out, now's the time to turn it off," our Welcome Teamer says before slipping into a seat on the end of the front row.
I put my phone away.
I'm sitting right behind him.
I better be good.
The lights dim, and I tuck my hands under my thighs. I'm really quite excited about this play. Because I love Lorca. I've already said that. But like, seriously, I really love Lorca. And if this wedding is bloody enough to set Janet worrying about him, well, I am here for it. I want to see a stage soaked with the red stuff. I want the floorboards stained permanently. I want to come away from this with a dry cleaning bill.
And things are looking promising. There's a woman on her knees, cleaning up a puddle of some sinister liquid or other off the floor.
It isn't blood though. And I immediately lose interest.
Not for long though. It is Lorca after all.
He manages to create drama even without inflicting fatal wounds on all his characters.
A simple boy marries girl is marred by a backstory worthy of G.R.R. Martin, a bunny-boiler of an ex-boyfriend, and, you know, parents.
Through into a mix Thalissa Teixeira as a sentient moon, some aerial running from Gavin Drea, and Aoife Duffin wearing the cutest little button boots, and you've got yourself one hell of a play. Plus, when Drea and David Walmsley take off their shirts to have a knife fight... that is some high-class art right there.
I don't even mind that I have to wait right for the end for them to unscrew the caps on the fake blood bottles. It was worth it.
Fucking weird though.
I'm beginning to worry about Lorca.
Are we really sure he's dead? I could do with a really niche comedy right about now.