"That sounds very communist," said my cake-eating friend Ellen when I mentioned that I would be at the Camden Peope’s Theatre on Thursday night (you may remember her from posts such as my Polka & The Space double-show day blog).
I’d been thinking of the Gettysburg Address: Theatre of the people, for the people, by the people. But a communist theatre right by Euston station sounded much more promising.
But, like with so many things with politics, I found it utterly baffling when I arrived.
There was a box office. I could see that. One that shares its desk space with the bar. Each end appropriately marked up with a sign. “Bar” to the left. “Box office” to the right.
Except, I couldn't get to either. A mass of people had congregated between the door and the counter.
Were they queuing?
I couldn’t tell.
By the looks of it they were merely milling.
Now, I don’t have a lot of experience with communist theatre. But come on, most theatres incline at least slightly towards the left. Surely things down this end of the political spectrum couldn’t be that different. I was fairly certain queuing was a universal concept. I just had to figure out where this one began, or ended.
Someone emerged from the theatre and there was lots of “there he is!” type of calls from the group.
Friends of the playwright.
That made sense.
"You've all got comps waiting for you," the playwright announced magnanimously.
Yeah, well. That’s all very nice I’m sure. But I got a paid-for ticket waiting for me, and I would like to pick it up please.
I edged my way around the group, trying to get past.
“Is this a queue?” I asked someone nearby who looked like they might be a fellow-edger.
“You want to pick up tickets? The box office is just here,” said the lady standing behind the bar-half of the counter.
“Are you waiting?” I asked the other edger.
"You go if you want,” was his very gracious reply.
I’m not very gracious, so it looks like I may have queue-barged ahead of the one genuine person trying to pick up their ticket. Sorry mate.
The tickets turned out to be playing cards, marked up with CPT (Camden People’s Theatre. Come on now, keep up) on the back and a die-cut star punched out of the corner, lest anyone try to sneak in with a faked up playing card-ticket. Ingenious. I like it. And also deliciously mistrustful. Are there many people out there bent on sneaking into theatres with playing cards? Perhaps I’m just showing off my naivety here, but it that seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to. I don’t know. Maybe there are roving gangs selling individual playing cards with CPT sharpied on the back of them. “Wanna see a play?” they mutter as you pass them on a street corner, checking over their shoulder for any sight of the rozzers.
Frankly, if there really are people out there who are so desperate to see a play that they do go to the effort of putting marker pen to playing card, I say let them in. They deserve it.
“You can take one of those,” said the box office guy, clearly noticing how my attention was now fully taken up by the pile of cast sheets sitting on the counter.
I know. I’m sorry. You are so utterly bored about reading about my obsession with the more papery aspects of the theatre experience. It’s okay. You don’t need to say anything. I can tell.
I have a problem.
But these cast sheets… are really nice. The paper stock. Ooff. Thick. With a nice weight. And a subtle sheen.
If it were me, I would have given them a extra proofread, but… with paper this nice, who’s really paying attention to the use of quotation marks?
Fully stocked with paper, I went to find somewhere to sit.