Yes. Absolutely. A thousand times, yes.
The Playhouse is here serving up perfection. The poster child on how it should be done. I hope the rest of the West End is paying attention.
I hadn’t been to the Playhouse Theatre for a while. Not since Lindsay Lohan sped the plow back in 2014 (don’t laugh, I thought she was pretty good). Has it been refurbished since then? Because I don’t remember it looking quite so handsome.
The box office is to be found outside, just by the main doors, in its own little room, brightly light and shining white. I thought this nifty innovation, this “office in a box” if you will, was a great idea. It saves us all having to deal with the double queue-confusion that I’ve been encountering a lot recently.
Bag check done and ticket presented, I headed into the main doors. More shining whiteness. White walls. Towering ceilings. A long bar. A black and white tiled floor. All offset by gold. It practically shimmered.
Unlike the garishness of the golden Garrick, the Playhouse gave off an air of a Regency ballroom. Which is quite a considerable feat of magic, as there’s no way Mr Darcy would have enough room to glower properly in this foyer-bar, let alone led a gavotte. Plus, it wasn’t built for a good sixty years after Beau Brummell tied his cravat for the final time.
But the feeling only intensified when I headed into the auditorium and I got the overwhelming feeling that I’d somehow wandered into the Vauxhall Gardens circa 1800.
A painted garland looped its way over the stage. Rococo flourishes decorated the walls. And the balustrades of the upper circle disappeared into a pair of paintings that were giving off serious Fragonard vibes.
There were even lampposts. Actual lampposts. In the theatre.
Having bought my ticket for a mere snip of £10 (it’s all about GILT right now), I was intrigued to find out what a tenner can buy you in these pleasure gardens. Would I be tucked away behind a pillar, or relegated to a slip seat where leaning forward would grant me a glimpse of less than half the stage and a life-long enemy in the form of my neighbour?
Neither of these things, as it turns out. Instead I found myself in the dress circle, back row, in the centre, with a near perfect view of the stage.
There must have been some mistake. Surely.
Had I been upgraded on the sly? No. The house was full. No closed off balcony here.
Perhaps I was hallucinating? I have been very tired since starting this marathon. I might of nodded off and imagined the entire night.
But while I would like to believe that I could dream up the entirety of musical - one that was convincingly written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright - I somehow don’t think that’s the case.
I had to face it. I was really there. In a great seat. For a great price. In a very handsome theatre. Watching an epic musical.
Man, sometimes good things really do happen to mediocre people.
I mean… probably. Sometimes. To someone.
I wasn’t convinced.
There had to be something wrong with this place.
In the interval, I went in search of it. The Playhouse must have some dreadful failing, and I was determined to hunt it out.
I went to the bar: tasteful wood flooring. Natty velvet chairs.
Eff you painting. Hope is dead.
Okay, except this offensively upbeat painting, the dress circle bar was nice. But what about the upper circle? I was willing to put money on the fact that they were being served out of broken jam jars in some prison-style bar. Right?
I wound my way through the convoluted corridors up to the upper circle and pushed open the door to the bar up there.
Same velvet seats. Tasteful. Comfortable. Stylish. And fucking irritating.
What was wrong with this place?
It had to be the loos.
There’s been a lot of stuff in the theatre press recently about loos. The Stage seems to be running a massive campaign on the issue. This is like the theatrical version of the Daily Mail in 1992. Suggested headline: The Stage doth Drained it! No? Fine.
But when I passed by on my way back to my seat, the ladies was near empty. No queues stretching out down the stairs. No fight for the hand-dryers. Nothing.
The Playhouse Theatre is annoyingly perfect.
Lovely building. Queues are all neat and orderly. No one tried to talk to me or make me dance, threw bread at me, or manipulated me into a standing ovation (that I gave willingly and with enthusiasm). Programmes are fairly priced (£5) and interesting. Even the signage was excellent. Which is a good thing as the corridors there are very confusing, splitting off in all sorts of directions as they feed you to the various different levels.
I wonder if the separate box office room was an artefact of an old, separate, balcony entrance that has been integrated into the main body of the theatre. It would explain all those stairs and strange internal layout.
Oh wait. Hang on. Did I just find something?
The Playhouse Theatre isn’t perfect.
It has confusing corridors.
I thought I was going to have to start bringing people along, just to double check that I wasn’t imaging the entire thing.
I’m not sure I could have faced seeing Caroline, or Change that many times. My heart would smash within the week.
Don’t feel bad about missing out, they were apparently filming it last night. So you can get your heart smashed on your own time.
So. That’s it.
All this perfection may make for a boring blog-post (where’s the drama! The intrigue! The panic attacks!) but quite frankly, I needed this. I mean, I really needed this. I was feeling down down last yesterday following my trip to the Lyric. This has helped immensely.
I practically bounced all the way home. I may have even hummed. Quietly. To myself. When no one else was around.
… perhaps I should go back and buy that painting.