Everyone's Talking About Everyone's Talking About Jamie

Is it morbid to treat a memorial as an experience? I think the fact that it is me asking this, the woman who wears all black, listens to The Cure, and grew up next door to a twelfth-century graveyard, is probably an answer in itself. If I am questioning whether something is morbid, it must be macabre af.

Last night the lights dimmed in the West End in memory of the theatre producer Duncan Weldon. I’d never seen that happen before, so I headed in early to try and catch it.

At seven o’clock, I positioned myself halfway down Shaftesbury Avenue and waited.

The lights glittered brightly.

A crowd had gathered on the pavement, phones poised and ready to capture the moment.

The Company sign hanging above the Gielgud was the first to go out. Shortly followed by the sequined Thriller Live at the Lyric.

We waited.

Lastly, after a painfully long moment, the Apollo switched off their lights.

The crowd clapped, but the sound was muffled by their gloves so they settled on a short cheer instead.

A moment later, the lights started coming back on, one by one, starting with the Apollo, and ending, an achingly long time later, with the Gielgud.

That done, is was time to head into my chosen theatre for the night.

The Apollo, or as I used to call it: The Worst Balcony in London.

I can't do that anymore.

Now it's: The-Theatre-That-Is-Lacking-In-The-Balcony-Department-Ever-Since-The-Ceiling-Caved-In-Mid-Performance-Following-A-Day-Of-Heavy-Rain-Fall-Way-Back-In-2013-Necessitating-The-Installation-Of-An-Admittedly-Beautiful-False-Ceiling-At-Balcony-Level-To-Cover-Up-The-Damage. Which is a less catchy name, for sure.

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The highest rank of circle on offer is now the grand one. Which, let me tell you, ain't all that grand. If you thought that theatres making the balcony-dwellers enter via a separate entrance was dodgy, here the residents of the grand circle also get the second class treatment. Once you’ve picked up your ticket from the box office, you are sent back outside, into the cold and the rain, to go in via the servants’ entrance, lest you offend the masters sitting in the stalls with your grubby, public-transported, presence. They even have the walls of the stairwell tiled, the better to hose-down our sticky finger marks after we’ve left.

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When I finally made it up, I made a cheering discovery. The Apollo may no longer hold the title of the Worst Balcony in London. But I am pleased to report, I think they may well be in good stead to claim The Worst Grand Circle in London prize.

Getting into row E required clambering up a massive step, which I’m sure fails on all sorts of access-friendliness scales. You’d think that once you’ve clawed your way into your seat, you would be rewarded by a fantastic view. Not so. Unless you have a particular fondness for inspecting the hairdos of strangers at close quarters.

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The Apollo will take your money just as easy as from the poshos in the stalls, but they don't believe in the poor people actually seeing the show.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand them entirely on this matter. Just as a popular artwork may be taken off display in a gallery to preserve it from the damage that comes along with being shuffled past by an endless stream of tourists, so must a show be kept hidden from the glare of too many retinas.

And naturally, it is only right that those who can’t afford an expensive ticket should not get an unrestricted view. The less they can see of the stage, the better, quite frankly! It must be safeguarded, far away from inferior eyeballs. Their funds will support the work going on below, naturally. One must support the arts. But this duty must be performed as a subsidy for the proper audiences. The ones that sit in the real seats. And pay real prices.

And wear appropriate clothes.

With the promise of heavy snow that evening, I had pulled out an original fifties circle skirt from the back of my wardrobe. Quilted with a layer of fleece hidden underneath, it is basically a duvet with a waistband attached. It is also frickin’ massive I had to keep on tucking it under my knees to prevent it from encroaching into my neighbours' laps. Totally the wrong thing to wear in cramped West End theatre seating.

I soon realised that the two people now living under my skirt were on wildly different rides that evening.

The girl on my right, a performing arts student, was on Splash Mountain. She bopped and danced around in her seat, cheered at every you-tell-the-bastards line and whispered excitedly, "this is so good!" to her friend. During the closing numbers she sniffed extravagantly, her sweet young face washed by tears by the end. Every emotion being pumped off that stage landed had straight in her heart.

The lady on my left however was stuck on the rotating Teacups and she wanted to go home. Every time a song ended and the cast insisted on doing the talking bits, she took out her phone to check the time, jostling and elbowing me as she reached into her bag and lit up the screen to reveal that, yes... only five minutes had passed since the last time she has performed this same manoeuvre. Half-way through act two, after a particularly clumsily choreographed attack on her bag and my ribs, she brought out, not her phone, but a tube of hand cream. Squeezing out a dollop, she then proceeded to work it into her skin during the heartfelt family moment taking place down on the stage. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so committed to skin hydration since The End of the World (“Moisturise me!”).

As for me, I just kept on thinking about a band of young men I’d passed on my way there. About how they had rushed into the road together, right into the traffic. A taxi screeched at them and one of the young men screeched back: “Run me over! Do it! I want to die!”

And I thought about the dimmed lights.

And the people taking photos.

And the girl on my right who was feeling all the emotions.

And the woman on my left who was feeling none of them.

And the stage that I couldn’t see.

And the painted forest scene hanging above us.

And the broken roof that lurked above this enchanted image.

And the snow falling on it.

And I wondered, if this was my last night on earth, would I be happy that I spent it here.

And.

And.

And.

And then I went home.

Science fiction, double feature

Is there anything more hedonistic than taking a half-day off work to watch ballet?

No, my friend. There isn’t.

And I can’t even blame the marathon for such an extravagant use of my time.

I’d had this outing planned for months. There was no way I was going to miss ballet-god Rupert Pennefather’s glorious return to the London stage.

Sadly, we all know what they say about god and plans.

But I wasn’t going to let the little matter of an injury and the resulting cast changes get in the way of my self-indulgent afternoon. So, after a quick lunch at my desk, I sauntered down to the London Coliseum. Or rather, the Coli. Everyone calls it the Coli. Or at least, I think everyone does. I certainly do. Perhaps just the pretentious twats who frequent it on the regular use that name. Of which, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, I am very much one.

Which leads me to this question… how do I write about a venue that I am this bloody familiar with? One that I even have a charming nickname for? I can’t describe walking around in wide-eyed wonder as I’m sure I would have done if I’d been a newbie. The Coli really is the most extraordinary venue. Over-the-top in almost every aspect. It’s not just the gilt, and the velvet, and the massive stage. These are merely the base layer onto which Frank Matcham built his monument to excess. There are domes. Multiple ones. With stained glass. And stone gargoyles guarding the staircase. Marble balustrades. Mosaic covered ceilings (with umbrella’s to match). Carved wooden doors. Roman iconography. Golden horses. And then topping it all, a spinning globe lit up with the name of the theatre.

It has so much bling, even Elizabeth Taylor would think it a bit gaudy.

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The great debate

I went off book last night. Or rather, off spreadsheet.

I was meant to be going to see a play about a man on the brink of suicide. It was all planned and marked up.

Wednesday / 16 January 2019 / Evening / The Loop / Lion and Unicorn Theatre.

I’d logged that at least a week ago. But when Wednesday morning dawned and I still hadn’t bought a ticket I knew that I couldn’t face it. I needed something more upbeat. Something with songs perhaps. So, I shuffled things around and decided to go see a musical about a girl with a massive, disfiguring scar on her face, chasing after a miracle that’s bound to let her down. Much more uplifting.

Now unconstrained by spreadsheets, I headed into the West End. Or rather Charing Cross. Or, even more specially, Charing Cross Station. Well, under it at least.

I have a soft spot from sub-station theatres. 17 days into my marathon and The Union Theatre is still ranking as my number one theatre experience (followed briskly by the Playhouse and the Brockley Jack. Not that it's a competition you understand. Except it kinda is). There’s something about hearing a train rumbling on overhead that makes a play feel so much more epic. It’s as if every production is set within a permanent thunder storm.

Both under railway arches they may be, but the Charing Cross Theatre is no wee little 75-seater. In the grand throw down between Charing Cross the the Union’s Waterloo, the north-of-the-river station would win tracks-down. On size alone, you understand. You could fit at least four Unions within the Charing Cross Theatre’s auditorium.

Everything seemed bigger at the Charing Cross.

As I pottered about in the foyer (taking mirror selfies, you know how it is), I spied the usher’s snack tray. Bags of Malteasers lined up next to king size Snickers and Mars bars. Holy shit on a cracker. Those are not theatre-snacks to be nibbled on during an interval. They are proper petrol-station snacks, built to sustain the a long road-trip.

The Charing Cross Theatre ain't playing no games.

They were West End (or at least, West End-adjacent) and they were ready to compete with the big-boys. This was no fringe venue. And they weren’t going to be confused with one. No matter what type of public transportation system was sitting on top of them, rattling their bones.

They even have a proper box office. Staffed by someone who seemed to have been hired for the sole reason that she radiated loveliness. Made all the lovelier when she handed me a proper ticket. One that I could take home with me. You see? West End. Definitely.

But then something caught my eye. There, on the box office counter. Something bright. Very bright. Orange even. Surely the brightest and most eye-catching of colours. And made of paper, which is always sure to get my attention.

“Can I take one of these?” I asked.

“Of course!” said the lovely box office lady.

It was a cast sheet.

Oh.

I looked around, checking for any programme sellers. Nope. No one. This was all we got.

So, maybe they are a fringe theatre then? If you squint and forget that the Strand isn’t just around the corner.

It makes sense. West End playhouses tend to been drinking great Edwardian things. Yes, there are outlets, but when you picture a West End theatre, there tends to be more in the way of curly architecture, and less, well... trains.

I had to do more investigating.

I wandered around, gathering evidence. West End or Fringe. It was hard to tell. It was all so conflicting.

Over my head there was a massive chandelier: West End.

But behind me was a strange arcade machine shoved in the corner: Fringe.

The ushers were wearing natty little waistcoats: West End.

But… what’s that?

 Is that a proper, physical, theatre bell?

I positioned myself near it, determined to catch it in action, but when the bing bongs came they arrived over a tannoy - with more than a little flavour of Hi-de-Hi!.

Oh.

That was disappointing. And it didn’t help settle the matter of West End or Fringe either way. Further disappointment.

With a heavy heart and a confused head, I decided it was time to go downstairs and take my seat. Hopefully the auditorium would hold to key to solving this mystery.

“Nice coat you got there,” said the usher taking my ticket.

“Oh, well, thank you,” I managed to reply, feeling a little flustered. It is a nice coat. There’s no denying it. But I don’t think I’ve ever been complimented on my outfit by an usher before

How do we even classify that? Definitely not West End.

Still preening, I took my seat. Row X. Ticket’s ain’t cheap at the Charing Cross (they have West End prices, that’s for sure).

But with the stage in the middle of the auditorium, and with seating either side, I may have been in the back row, but there were only 11 more in front of me.

And, even better, a tech desk directly behind. Like, literally, right behind me head. That was exciting. I love a tech desk.

I was looking forward to sneaking glances behind me during the show.

“So sorry, can everyone in this row move forward,” said an usher, leaning into the back row. My row.

We all blinked at him in incomprehension.

“If you could all just move forward, exactly as you are, to this row,” he added, indicating the empty row just in front of us.

It was happening. I was being moved out of my row. Just like with that bloke in the Vaudeville. I had seen how it should be done, and now it was time to make a stand. Or rather to not make a stand. I would sit. The revolution may have been slow to get started, but I would do my part. This was it. It was our time. We were going to rise up against our oppressors, the ushers.

I stood up, ready to face down the usher.

I looked at his smiling face and refused to break.

But then I remembered the coat-comment from earlier. And the lovely box office lady.

Reader, I’m ashamed to admit it. But I moved.

The seats in front were a little bit better. And I was still feeling pretty glowy after my compliment.

Glowy people don't start rebellions. They're too busy being smug and happy.

Revolution would need to wait for another day.

Our vacated seats were soon filled by the creative team, blocking my view of the tech desk.

Fucking. Rude.

My glow faded.

I crossed my arms and waggled my foot with irritation. The show better be good, I thought to myself. I was going to have to sit there, for a full hundred minutes, no interval, and have nothing to watch but the performers.

Lights dimmed. The cast emerged. And they started singing.

Over-amped, I sneered to myself.

I was determined not to have a good time.

And then I forgot. Forgot about being made to move. And the lack of a tech-desk view. Forgot about the creatives sitting behind me, until…

One of the groaned.

Oh dear. Something had gone wrong.

I scanned the stage. I hadn’t seen anything go awry. Perhaps this seat-stealing creative just had a stomach ache.

I lost myself in the show once more.

Until…

Another groan.

The cast sang on, still nothing visibly wrong.

His stomach ache must have been really bad. I wondered if I should offered the use of an aspirin. But then I remembered I was supposed to be annoyed with them, so decided to let him suffer through without medical assistance.

Besides, I was enjoying the show. And didn’t want to be distracted.

By the time I emerged back into Cavern Street shopping arcade I still hadn’t come up with the answer to my question: West End or Fringe?

Now, looking back on it all, I’ve come to a conclusion: I am not qualified to make such decisions.

Who cares if it belongs to the bright lights of the West End, or runs with the cool cats of the Fringe? Surely all that matters is the theatre, and what it makes us feel as we come together to form the single, living, breathing organism that is: the audience... ergh. That's theatre wankery if ever I heard it.

Fine. I'm calling it. It's West End. Done.

This is how the world ends

I have something to admit.

I took a day off. No theatre at all for me on Sunday.

I stayed at home. Did laundry. Watched that James Graham Brexit thing (it was good). Painted my nails (now my programme-selfies won’t look so… chipped). It was good. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. Oh, yeah. Marathon. Fine… moving on.

Look how good my nails look! I predict they will be chipped again by the next programme-selfie

I was back in the West End yesterday. True West at the Vaudeville.

I hadn’t intended to see this one. Nothing against the play, Johnny Flynn or Kit Harrington (or even his hair), but I really wanted to see the Globe’s Emilia, which is next up at in the theatre. I mean, an all-female cast in a play about a seventeenth century poetess? Yes please! But damn GILT got in the way with its pesky ticket offers. You know how it goes. Not that I’m not grateful. Please don’t stop, GILT. I need you!

Monday night and I was off to the Strand. Took photos. Picked up my ticket. Bought a programme (£5. Articles. Rehearsal photography. Acceptable). Took more photos. Went to the bar. Then the other bar. All fine.

The route up to the grand circle is a little… bare. Made me think that perhaps a separate entrance had been integrated into the theatre, but no one had told the decorators. Still, not quite as prison-chic as the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, so let’s not linger too much on that. There were show posters hanging up on the walls. Fine.

In fact, everything was fine. So fine that I was beginning to panic.

What on earth was I going to write about?

I’ve been worrying about this a lot lately. 233 theatres. Even accounting for double-show days, that’s a lot of blog posts. Was there really enough to say? What if every theatre I visit is… fine. Things can’t happen on every single trip. I don’t want them to happen on every single trip. My anxiety, you know. It’s very stressful. But what’s even more stressful is the thought of having to sit down the morning after and pull a thousand words out of nowhere.

And that’s the most likely scenario, isn’t it? Nothing happening.

I’ve seen a lot of theatre over the years. A lot. And the amount of truly blog worthy incidents that have happened in my vicinity can be counted on one hand. I mean, there was that time when a notable character actor swatted a woman across the back of her head with his programme at The Old Vic because she wouldn’t switch her phone off. That was pretty intense. But unless I intend to put said character actor on retainer, I couldn’t rely on that happening again any time soon.

Such worries fluttered away however when I met the usher in the grand circle. As soon as she tore my ticket, I just knew there was going to be trouble. Perhaps all those years of theatre-going experience are finally kicking in, but I sensed we were not going to be in for an easy ride.

What’s the theatrical equivalent to spidey-senses? Well, whatever it is: that.

The Vaudeville looks like it’s been recently refurbished. Or at least, recently repainted. Either side of the grand circle, right on the edges, where slips seats might usually go, are a pair of wooden scaffolds, to hold spotlights. Now, I have nothing against spotlights, nor the sinister-looking constructions required to house them. But they are rather big. And if you are sitting right on the aisle, they manage to obscure the view of a good chunk of the stage. Which is ironic. Given the purpose of lighting and all.

So it was unsurprising that when the house lights dimmed, the woman sitting on the end of my row, slunk out of her seat and sneaked forward, into the empty front row, where presumably the view was considerably better.

She didn’t get to enjoy it for long.

A few second later, the usher hurried down the stairs to the front row and after some heated whispering, the interloper was removed. She meekly returned to her designated seat.

Except, the usher wasn’t done.

And the front row wasn’t empty.

There was someone else there.

I hadn’t noticed him before.

The usher leaned in. Some more fervent whispering followed.

He whispered back.

The usher wasn’t having it. She stood to the side of the row, waiting for him.

He didn’t move.

The tension strained taught between the two of them.

Who would break first?

Something was happening on stage but I wasn’t paying attention. This impasse was far more interesting than anything our playwright could possibly come up with.

I sat, watching, utterly gripped.

The usher dithered. I could see her thinking. She shifted her weight from foot to foot. Holy shit. It was her. She was going to give in.

The man in the front row stared resolutely forward, watching the play as if all the rules and orders of theatre weren’t tumbling down around him.

Then, she walked off. Leaving the man in the front row… in the front row.

He’d won.

I almost gasped.

In fact, I might of actually gasped.

Was this the end? Had this age of polite theatre finally come to an end? Where we going to return to a time of throwing tomatoes at the stage? Would actors need to start shouting over the din of the audience’s nattering? What about booing? I feel booing is due for a comeback. Why do opera and panto-goers get to have all the fun? I want to boo too!

After that, it was hard to concentrate on the play.

Kit Harrington displayed some excellent floor-work, kicking his legs and arms up like a baby grasping for his mobile. While Johnny Flynn tackled a loaf-full of toasted bread with such enthusiasm it made me quite hungry.

And the woman sat at the end of my row?

She’s a fighter.

As soon as the lights went back down in act two, she made a second attempt at the front row.

This time the usher didn’t stop her.

What was the point? Chaos had won. The thin velvet line had been breached. There’s nothing for it but to hide behind the bar and chug the gin and wait for the reinforcements to arrive.

Audiences of London! We will no longer we shackled by the conventions of theatre. The ushers have no hold over you. Talk! Eat! Lean forward if you so desire! Because a new age has dawned, and we will not be contained in our allocated seats!

As the curtain closed I leapt up, ready to launch myself into this new world and reclaim my power as an audience member. I could see it all: Audiences pouring out of the theatres and congregating in Trafalgar Square. There was going to be a march. And banners. And quite possibly a few bins kicked over. We were going to graffiti the theatre doors and disrupt the day-ticket queues. We would build a bonfire of theatre programmes! Okay, maybe not that last one. That’s taking things too far.

I headed out of the side door, towards the staircase leading down the outside of the building, and breathed in the night air. Ah! It smelt like a riot about to happen.

And something else.

Something slightly more acidic then the rising up of theatre-goers.

Unless the rising up of theatre-goers smells of piss.

As we left the alleyway, a lady with an American accent piped up behind me. “Did you notice that? That smell was urine, I think..."

Yeah, I think you’re right.

As we emerged onto the Strand, the smell, like the rebellion, dissipated.

I went home.

Okay… so my little tale is not quite well-respected-character-actor-hitting-woman-with-programme good. But we’ll work on that. Perhaps I’ll start leaving my phone on during shows. See what kind of reaction I can provoke. Leave it with me kid. You want drama. I’ll get you drama.

Vive la revolution!

This is how it's done, people

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.

And this:

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?

Thank god.

The Playhouse Theatre isn’t perfect.

It has confusing corridors.

Phew.

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.

As horror looks you right between your eyes

When I announced that I was doing this marathon to my friends ahead of the website launch, Thriller Live came up a few times in the discussions that followed.

"Are you actually going to see it?"

“Yup.”

"No, but really. You're not are you?"

“I am.”

"You. As in actual you, Max. Are going to see Thriller Live?"

“Yes. Me. As in actual me. Am going to see Thriller Live.” 

The ‘at some point’ remained unspoken. Over the summer perhaps. Or maybe towards the end of the year. Once I’d built up some momentum. Worked myself up to it. Perhaps taken up a drinking habit. Or been so broken by this challenge I didn’t care where I was or what I was seeing anymore.

But then there was an offer on GILT. A good offer. And where ticket offers lead, I am bound to follow.

So off I went. Actual me. To see Thriller Live.

I mean… someone has to.

"Ah," said the man on the door, examining my ticket. "The balcony is closed tonight. So, if you go through over there," he said, indicating the merch desk just beyond "You'll be moved."

"Great!" I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Thriller Live from a slightly better seat. Yay?

I shouldn’t be so cynical... it was a significantly better seat. Fourth row centre. In the stalls.

That's a mighty upgrade.

Benefits of going alone to a show that’s been running nearly ten years. On a Tuesday.

Why can't these type of things happen at Hamilton?

One week in and I’ve got myself into a bit of routine. I arrive at the theatre early, pick up my ticket, wander around a little to get a feel for the space before heading into the auditorium, while it’s still fairly quiet, to take some photos, read the programme, and wonder how on earth I got myself into this mess.

Last night’s wander taught me two things. Firstly, that the Lyric is in a sorry state. The carpets are held together my duct tape, giving the poor theatre the look of a third-rate county-house hotel. And secondly, I am completely justified in my views about shows moving between theatres on a regular basis. Thriller Live needs to get out of here, if only to give this poor building a chance to be refurbished. Or at least re-carpeted.

Feeling a bit sad about my walk-around, I headed to my seat and began the next faze of my process.

My contemplation of both the programme and the state of my life was cut short however by the sound of a man in my row, clapping in time with the piped-in music. Loudly.

I usually wouldn’t mention something like this. Let the man clap if he wants to. But I am obligated by the rules of storytelling to include it. This is what writers like to call: foreshadowing.

I went back to my programme.

£5, by the way. Which might have almost been reasonable if they could decide on a spelling of hip hop and stick to it. Look, I’m not here to criticise the programme… what am I saying? I’m totally here to criticise the programme. I mean blimey, in 3 biographies they managed to get through 3 different ways of writing hip hop (or Hip Hop, or possibly Hip-Hop). That’s too many ways.

Okay, I get it, no one but me cares about the consistency of the spelling of hip hop, but I’m just trying to delay writing about the actual show. I’m still a little traumatised.

I went in not knowing anything about it.

For some reason I thought there was some sort of storyline, but 2 minutes in I realised this was not the case at all. Thriller Live is a musical revue, the songs punctuated by some inane commentary about Michael Jackson. It was almost like watching one of those “100 top music videos of the 80s” type of shows that used to be on TV all the time a few years back. And therein lies its success. It’s perfect tourist fodder, requiring little to no knowledge of English in order to enjoy it.

Actual me, about to watch actual Thriller Live

And I did almost enjoy it.

Almost.

Except they couldn’t just let me be.

There I was, perfectly content in my fourth row seat, watching the dancers tear up the stage, when it started. The dreaded audience participation.

Why? What did I do in my life that was so bad to deserve this?

And this was not just hollering when we heard Antwerp being mentioned. Oh no. This was full scale, standing up, putting arms in the air, wriggling hips and basically reliving every terrible moment from my childhood dance lessons.

Let’s not forget: I was in the fourth row. There was nowhere to hide.

I longed for death to claim me, but even he wasn’t having with any of that nonsense, and I was left there, to suffer, alone and in agony, the song stretching out into eternity.

And then there was the clapping.

Here is the point where I have to admit my secret shame: I can’t clap in time with music.

I know.

It’s a tragedy.

I lack all forms of rhythm.

You probably think that this is the source of all my problems when it comes to audience participation - and you’re right. How very perceptive of you, Mr Freud. Struggling with clapping to a beat sure makes enjoying this kind of thing a challenge. Combine that with a hefty dose of social anxiety and, well… physical laziness… and you’ve made yourself the exact type of person who will hate Thriller Live.

But you know what? I’m glad I saw it.

Because now I never have to see it again. And that’s something we can all be grateful for.

WKD Green

Seventh day in a row I’ve been to the theatre and I feel like I’ve had a house dropped on me.

Does taking B12 help? I’m sure I’ve heard that taking B12 helps. I’m not convinced. I was so tired last night that I was sure if I didn’t do something I wasn’t going to make it through Monday, let alone the rest of the week. I needed to take more drastic action. So… I went off to see the Wizard… and by that I mean: I was about to get my Wicked on! It’s been running in the West End for over 12 years. I thought it was about time I saw it.

The only problem was getting there.

Somehow I managed to convince myself that walking the 3-or-so miles from the office would be a good idea. Let the cold smack my face until I woke up.

I hadn’t been to the Apollo Victoria before, but I figured I kinda knew where it was. Head straight into the West End, turn west at Trafalgar Square, then march down to The Mall and you’re there. Right? Right. Except as soon as I reached all those fancy red-bricks that crowd SW1 I got completely disorientated. Over 10 years I’ve been living in London, and I’m getting lost on my way to the theatre. I have literally never been so ashamed. What am I even doing with my life?

Don’t answer that.

And you can keep that opinion of yours to yourself too. I already know what you’re thinking. It’s 2019. Why didn’t I just get directions from my phone once I started getting turned around? To which I can only say: I did. But the more I walked, the more I seemed to get confused. Every corner I turned only took me further away. It was like being in a Bowie movie. Except with less puppets and flatter hair.

By 7 o’clock I was still wandering around in circles, lost in a towering maze of town houses, and I was starting to panic. Google Maps was being worryingly slow, the circle that was supposed to represent me was darting from one side of the junction to the other as if it too couldn’t quite work out if Greencoat Place and Greencoat Row were secretly the same road.

In the end, I picked one at random and hoped for the best.

The great theatre gods must have taken pity on me, because a few minutes later I spotted something in the distance. Something green. Very green.

I’d made it.

With just enough time spare to snap a photo.

The wrong entrance

You may have noticed by now that technology is not my friend. And my phone, traumatised by recent events, decided it could no longer cope with the trials of this marathon, and decided to switch itself off.

As I swore, and growled, and bullied my phone back into the world of the living, I noticed something was going on in the queue.

People were being turned away.

“I’m here, but I need to pick up the tickets,” one woman shouted into her phone. “No, I’m at the theatre. But on the wrong side.”

The wrong side?

Where were we then? Had I accidentally stumbled upon the stage door? Were these people not punters, but autograph hunters?

That was a lot of branding and a hefty queue for the wrong side.

There was a massive poster. And the name of the theatre. And doors. Lots of them.

It looked like it should be the right entrance.

And then I saw it, a small sign posted at the bottom of the stairs.

“For Box Office pleased use the Wilton Road Entrance”

For fuck’s sake.

Wilton Road is around the back. I was on the wrong fucking side.

I sprinted round, joining the closest queue.

The right entrance

“I need to see your bag and your ticket,” said the man at the front.

“I still need to pick up my ticket,” I said, looking around wildly for the box office.

“My colleague can help you with that.,” was his reply, as he peered into my rucksack.

His colleague stepped forward. “Does your email confirmation have the seat number on it?” he asked.

“Ummm???” My phone had managed to switch back on by this point, but it was still dragging its feet. Eventually I managed to find the email. “Yes!”

“Great. Head straight through and show the email on the door. No need to pick up your ticket.”

I made a strange sound. I don’t need a ticket? Then what was I even doing on the Wilton Road side of the theatre then?

“Unless you want the hard copy,” he added, clearly knowing my type too well.

“Right…” I said, still baffled, and made my way inside, leaving the queue for the box office snaking down the road well alone. I could live without a hard copy.

Now, sitting on my bed and writing this in the cold half-light of morning, I am filled with regret. I did really want a hard copy.

Dammit.

If anyone in the Wicked press team is reading this - hook a girl up! I just want a ticket. Not to see the show again (although…), just a actual, physical, hard copy. They looked so pretty with the logo and everything.

Next stop, the merch desk. Or, one of the merch desks. As there seemed to be multiple ones. A myriad even. Everywhere I looked there were stalls. Some selling sweets and popcorn. Others focusing on t-shirts and tat. All of it blazing green. I had walked into the marketplace of the Emerald City. And they were not going to let me out of there alive.

“That’s £8,” I was told as an oversized (‘souvenir’) programme was handed to me.

I tried my best not to look horrified as I stuck my card in the machine.

“I should tell you the role of Glinda will be performed by Maria Coyne tonight,” continued the programme seller as I officially entered bankruptcy.

“Oh?” I said, pretending this meant something to me.

Hard copies of tickets and cast change announcements at the programme desk? I was beginning to get the impression that Wicked-fans are just a teensy bit intense.

He opened a draw under the desk. “I usually have these cards to hand out when there’s a cast change,” he said, showing me a rather fancy looking A4 sheet printed with a colour photo, biog and headshot. He’d got my attention. They were nice! Really nice. Good heavy card stock. 250gsm at least, perhaps even 300gsm, and silk-coated. I pratically salivated. “But I don’t have the right ones. You can ask at one of the other desks and they’ll give you one.”

You bet I would. There was no way I was missing out on one of those beauties.

But that would need to wait until the interval.

Checking that I still had the confirmation email up on my phone to show to any ushers that would ask for it (spoiler alert: they didn’t), I made my way downstairs.

Or tried to.

Half way down the stairs I stopped. And blinked.

Everything was… green.

Green walls. Green lights. Even the carpet was green.

I staggered about, feeling a little seasick.

Green carpet

Green binoculars

Green chairs

As I turned into the auditorium, I had to blink again.

The seats were green.

Row upon row. Of green seats. With green binoculars secured to the backs.

Me, unable to deal with all the green

So. Much. Green.

I know I’ve ranted about shows sticking around too long in individual theatres, but I am in total favour of Wicked living out the rest of its existence in the Apollo Victoria. The show has really made the theatre its home. This is not ‘hoarding the pretty',’ this is making the theatre an extension of the show.

I’ve never been so happy in my all life.

And then the show started.

And I got even happier.

As soon as the last closing notes of Defying Gravity hit the roof I floated back up to the marketplace and headed to the nearest desk.

“Can I have one of those cast change things?” I asked.

“The understudy sheets?” she said. “They come with the programmes. £8.”

I explained I already had one.

“Do you have the receipt?” sounding a trifle suspicious, if you ask me.

“I do!” I replied, remembering how the original programme seller had slipped one inside the pages. I got out my programme and flipped through. It wasn’t there. “Hang on,” I said, reaching into my bag. It must have fallen out.

“Can’t find out?” she asked. The you lying bitch remained unspoken.

She was not letting this go. Good for her.

I had so much damn respect for that.

Or I would have done, if I hadn’t been panicking. I needed one of those luscious cast sheets.

I tipped up the programme and flapped it upside down. No receipt.

Someone else came to the desk. I indicated she should go first. But she was just there to look.

I was getting flustered.

Calmcalmcalmcalm.

But it WASN’T THERE.

Oh god, what was I going to do? I needed one of those cards. I already didn’t have a ticket. I wasn’t missing out on this.

Could I justify spending another £8 to get a second programme? No. I could not. Except…

I went through each page in turn, and somewhere towards the end, I found it. The receipt.

“Ah ha!” I cried out, as if I had just solved some complicated mathematical equation. “I have it!” I waved it about, just to prove it.

She took it from me, and checked it. Yup. The programme was bought that very evening.

She handed it back to me. With a cast change sheet.

Success! But at what cost? I think I knocked a full five years off my life last night.

It’s not easy being green.

Bread and Circuses

You may be wondering why I'm spending so much time in the West End. "There's so much more to London theatre," you growl at your screen. I hear you. Believe me. No, seriously. Keep it down. I'm trying to write over here.

And yes, I abso-fucking-lutely agree with you. There is so much more out there. But this is January. And no one, apart from you and me that is, wants to go to the theatre in January. We are an elite group, willing to fight against the Christmas hangover and weight of too many mince pies pressing against out waistbands, to head out into the freezing cold and go watch a show. And two people can't fill a theatre. No matter how much they manspread.

So January is prime time for the ticket discounters as they fight it out for what's left in our wallets.

Already not overly stuffed before this challenge started, the current contents of my purse is now primarily made up of cough sweets and scrunched up receipts.

After already seeing 5 shows this week, reason dictates that I should stay at home and wash my hair. Perhaps do some laundry. Eat dinner even.

Reason be damned. I have a marathon to complete here.head

It was time to throw what was left of my monies into the ring and let the ticket discounters wrestle over it.

The champion of them all, heavy-weight prize fighter Get Into London Theatre, had some great offers going on in the new year's sale, and I've stocked up on enough tickets to make me feel quite GILTy (sorry), but there was nothing for Friday night. Or at least, nothing quite cheap enough for me.

So, I went rogue, venturing out to the less distinguished stalls in the ticket-marketplace.

Tickets from £29.95.

Tickets from £35.

Tickets from £63.49.

No. No. And NO.

Eventually I made my way to lastminute.com were I found a very tempting 15 quider going for the RSC Don Quixote at the Garrick Theatre.

But being the naturally suspicious person that I am, I headed over to the the Garrick's own website (or at least, their lord and master's - the mighty Nimax) to see what ticket prices were like over there, and found a bunch of 10-pounders just sitting there, without fanfare, waiting to be bought. So I did.

Which leads me to this piece of advice: don't ever trust the discount ticket websites to offer up the very cheapest tickets. Always double check against the venue's website. They tend to hold those real bargains back. Thus ends my public service announcement.

Anyway, I know two things about the Garrick Theatre.

One is that it has a tiny little door loading door, less than 3 foot across, through which all the scenery and other stage mechanics need to get in and out of every time there's a show changeover.

The second is that it's really hard to get a photo of the exterior that doesn't feature at least one bus.

One bus

Two bus

Half bus

I am already sensing that my failings as a photographer is going to be the running theme of this blog.

But ignoring my dodgy photography skills, do you see what I see?

No! Not the buses. Forget the buses. The buses are not important to this story.

Look at this windows. Do you see what’s in front of them? Perhaps click on the last photo to enlarge it.

Yup. There are people there! The Garrick Theatre has a terrace.

I frickin’ love a terrace.

I enjoy the feeling of power that comes from being able to see the top of people’s heads.

What can I say? I’m short. It’s not an experience that I get to enjoy all that often.

I had to go there.

Don’t worry, this isn’t another aborted ghost-story.

There were no closed door standing between me and my bird’s eye view of all the egg-heads on the street below.

The door was actually wide open. Inviting.

So, there I was, enjoying the view. Admiring the top’s of people’s heads and…

Whoa. What is that!?

I didn’t think it was possible, but there was something lurking inside that was far more interesting than mere head-gazing.

The gold and silver Foyer Bar at the Garrick Theatre

The gold and silver Foyer Bar at the Garrick Theatre

I don’t think I’ve ever see a shinier room in my life.

The walls are silver.

The detailing is gold.

Everything glimmers under the light of the chandelier.

Even the fire exit sign looked like a more verdant shade of green.

It was like stepping into a jewellery box.

I fully expected the proletariat to storm in and drag us all off to the guillotine at any moment.

It was perfect.

It was almost a disappointment having to head into the theatre to watch the play.

There were some compensations though. Firstly, I learnt that one of my Garrick-facts is now dreadfully out of date. The titchy-door no longer exists. Theatre’s drive towards the mundane world of practicality over charm won out, and the tiny door was removed in favour of a more sensibly-sized opening during the Garrick’s recent refurbishment. The second is that the balcony of the theatre has been closed off, making an already petite playhouse even smaller.

Unlike the balcony at the Apollo, which was closed off after the ceiling collapsed mid-performance, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the one at the Garrick. The stairs leading up to it were merely roped off, rather than boarded up. You can even see up there from the grand circle.

IMAG0110.jpg

What you can’t see however, is a considerable chunk of the stage.

Like with the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, some theatre architects seem to forget that people will be using their buildings to watch things that are happening on stages. And that not being able to see the entire stage might be a bit of a problem. I feel that this is something quite important about theatre design that needs to be got across to them. Can someone pass on a message for me?

To make matters worse, the RSC have compounded the problem by, what theatre-people like to refer to as, “making full use of the space” - i.e. having the actors bounce around the auditorium, mingling with the folk in the stalls, hanging out in the boxes, and doing their best to make us lot in the audience feel included.

So there I am, unable to see important parts of the action in a theatre so small it’s possible to have a highly effective food fight in it. Which is 1) a descriptor so specific it must have actually happened, and 2) probably the reason the tickets were only £10.

And fair-do’s to the cast. They did their very best to lob bread rolls our way. One even made it into the lap of the person sitting directly in front of me.

Which was as impressive as it was horrifying.

I tend to take the Groucho Marx attitude towards audience interaction. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member. I have no longing to get in on the action. I don’t want to put my hands in the air and wriggle my fingers. I don’t want to do panto call-backs. And I definitely don’t want to holler when an actor mentions Antwerp in act 2.

Okay, I may be more of a grouch than a Groucho, but these ice-breaker exercises don’t make me loosen up. The opposite if anything. As soon as there’s a hint of audience interaction, I spend the rest of the night in a state of high-alert, heart pounding, breath short, and eyeing up all the exits.

Highly strung? Me? I mean… fine. Okay. You got me. I has the anxiety. Leave me alone.

No, really. If you see me: leave me alone.

Bye then.

The Nightmare After Christmas

You'll be relieved to hear that I've given up on selfies. And not just because I forgot to put on eyeliner yesterday. Yeah, I thought that was impossible too, but apparently if you stop midway through doing your makeup to rush back to your laptop in order to add in another paragraph to your high-stress-making blog, you can forget to go back and finish it off. Shout out to my lovely coworker who offered up the use of her fancy Dior mascara and absolutely saved my life. Even if my Goth points are currently running on empty without my trademark dark wings.

It was a very distressing day.

Not helped by the fact that I needed to go to the one show in London that I had absolutely no intention of seeing. Ever.

If you read yesterday's post you'll know that I'm a big fan of shows moving on and making way in theatres for something new. So, I wasn't entirely unhappy to hear that one of my favourite theatres was being freed up this year. I mean, sucks for everyone working on the production (totally been there... and in this theatre as it happens), but dammit - stop hoarding the pretty.

Unfortunately, this closure wasn't to be followed by a show switcharoo. It was going into full darkaroo mode. Long-term darkaroo.

So, I need to give another shout out. This one to the wonderful theatre klaxon of twitter that is @weez for pointing out that if I don't get my arse to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane by the end of the week, I'd be locked out for the refurbishment until 2020.

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The sisters of Litchfield Street

We’re off! Hail to the new year that is 2019 and good riddance to the piss-pot collection of putrid days that was 2018.

I don’t know about you, but I woke up with a deep awareness of my own mortality that I suspect was caused by the crashing realisation that I still hadn’t bought any theatre tickets. Not a single one. Not even for the matinee that I planned to attend mere hours later.

Usually I would never leave it so late to buy tickets. I’m the type of person who leaps into the box office queue as soon as they go on sale (and by that I mean the online queue. I don’t actually go to the box office. That would involve a level of human interaction that I simply can not deal with on such high-stakes days). So, I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be any room for little old me by the time that I got there.

But here’s the thing: I’d convinced myself that I wanted to day seat my first day of the marathon. And I wasn’t going to be put off by the mere fact that it was already afternoon-time and I was still in my pyjamas.

Some frantic activity involving eyeliner, washing a weird stain out of my shirt and a race across London later and I made it to Litchfield Street by 2pm.

First call: St Martins Theatre. Home of The Mousetrap. A choice I was rather pleased with. There’s something rather neat about having the first theatre in my year-long tour of London theatres be the longest-running show  around.St Martins Theatre from Litchfield Street“Are there any day tickets left by any chance?” I asked with an air of calm that impressed even myself.

You bet there were. Because no one wants to go to a matinee on new years day.

Even if you do get to overhear the cast warm up on stage as you wait at box office.

Ten minutes later, I had secured a front row seat and stepped back out into the biting cold of the West End wondering how on earth I had managed to be swindled out of £29.50 for a ticket to a show that has been running for more than double my life-span. Twenty-nine British pounds! And fifty pee! For a day seat to a weekday matinee? With tickets still available an hour before the curtains goes up? Are they serious? I still can’t get over that. That’s monstrously ruinous. I don’t think I have ever, in my life, spent so much for a theatre ticket that wasn’t… well, Hamilton, or something that provided equal bragging rights. And no offence to The Mousetrap… but, I’m was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be stepping out of the theatre with a song in my heart and an ache in my belly as I suppress the urge to rap the entire text at once.

Feeling rather woozy I stumbled down the street to my next stop. The Ambassadors Theatre. Thankfully located right next door.

“Any day seats left? By any chance?” I asked, feeling rather less certain of myself by this point.

There were. And for the considerably less heart-attack inducing £19.50.The Ambassadors Theatre from Litchfield Street until it was time to return to St Martins Theatre, lest I wander away and spend even more money.Instagram StoriesWith my ticket purchases for the day sorted, I busied myself making

It did give me the opportunity to admire all the signage around St Martins though. Did you know that The Mousetrap is the “world’s longest ever run”? Nor did I. I feel it should be talked about more.

(Incidentally, what does “world’s longest ever run” even mean? It sounds like something Eddie Izzard would do for charity. That’s an over-workshopped tag line if ever I heard one.)

I have to admit, for all my hours of prep, I went off to my first theatre trip of the year still not knowing exactly how I was going to write it up. Would I count the loos and inspect the access-friendliness of the entrance? Analyse the ease of navigating their website? Rant about the extortionate rates of booking fees nowadays? Am I supposed to have drink at the bar? Comment on their wine list? Rank the attractiveness of the ushers?

All these possibilities were considered and dismissed with rapid succession.

Instead, I headed straight over to the merch stand.

I fucking love merch. And there looked like there was some lush looking tea-towel action going on over there.

What I don’t love however, is merch queues. And the already cramped foyer at St Martins Lane was almost all queue. By my reckoning, there were at least three: the box office, the merch stand, and for the ladies’ loo. But which was which was impossible to make out, so tangled up were they.

My anxiety levels already dangerously high, I opted out of the entire ordeal and bought a programme from a conveniently located usher, who was very chipper considering it was the early afternoon post-the-new-year’s-eve before (he had a chill evening, involving cigars and had no hangover to speak of, as it turned out).

Now, kudos to The Mousetrap - programmes are only £4 and are filled with lots of tasty articles and a minimum about of ads. Speaking as a professional (no, seriously… I produce programmes for a living), I was impressed. Well worth the monies.

But even the programme wasn’t enough to distract me from the nagging thought that I should probably be doing something.

Like… taking photos maybe…?

You can probably already tell, but I’m not much of a photographer. I spent far too long trying to work out how to take pictures of the auditorium, but in the end gave up and just snapped the ceiling.

Then I realised I should probably prove I was there. So attempted some selfies which was equally unsatisying.

Note to self: remove glasses first.The domed ceiling at St Martins Theatre. What’s up there? I want to know!Now how to I get this here thingamyjig to take photos?You’ll be pleased to note that the show started shortly thereafter, saving you from any more of my attempts.

Which I suppose is my segue to telling you about the show itself.

But really… what can I say about The Mousetrap that hasn’t already been said a million times since it opened? It’s funny, and dark, and comforting in the way that all Agatha Christie’s always are. You just want to snuggle down in your seat and get cosy, knowing that you are safe while the characters battle with blizzards and each other. If you haven’t been, you definitely should. If only for the eavesdropping potential during the interval as everyone tries to work out whodunnit (the two women sitting on my right figured it out). I’d already seen it, so I was denied the pleasure of joining in, but who doesn’t love a rewatch of a murder mystery, when you can spot all the clues?

Anyway, back down the street and off to Switzerland!

The Ambassadors Theatre is actually St Martins’ sister venue, designed by the same architect. And pleasingly currently features a new play by another female playwright: Joanna Murray-Smith. Not only that, the play itself is about a female crime writer, the magnificent Patricia Highsmith. There’s more Sister, Sister action going on here than in a 90’s Nickeloden sitcom. It’s almost like I planned it… almost.

More ceiling photography followed. And more selfies. (Sorry, I swear I’ll do my best to figure this out).The royal icing ceiling at the Ambassadors TheatreCan’t take selfies. Send help.The Ambassadors is a titchy-tiny theatre. Intimate. But without the black-boxiness that usually goes along with that descriptor. It only has the one circle. With an ornate ceiling and painted a pale cream, it felt like I was sitting inside a wedding cake. Which was not an unenjoyable experience. Despite the grim look on my face (at least I remembered to remove the glasses).

I actually liked it so much I started getting angry at the idea of long running shows hogging the pretty (sorry The Mousetrap). I’d never made it to The Ambassadors before. Mainly because Stomp lived here for 15 years. I think there needs to be a limit. A show should get a maximum of two years before it’s out. I’m not saying end long runs, just keep them moving. Like a massive game of musical chairs.

That’s the platform I’m running on.

Max for Theatre President, 2020.

And I don’t want to hear any nonsense about “practicalities.”

Errr, apologies for that strange turn… on to the play - I need to insert a chef’s kiss gif here. I don’t know why, but something about a bitchy, misanthropic, hermit writer really speaks to me. The programme (another £4 wonder) is filled with fascinating facts about her and I’m totally into it. I’m not saying I want to be Patricia Highsmith when I grow up, but I wouldn’t be angry about it if I did. Except for the racism. That’s like… so not cool. And living off cans of soup. Not into that either.

A++ work to everyone involved. And at 90 mins, no interval, it really can’t be beat.

Closes on Saturday. I’m glad I caught it. You should go too.

Phew. That’s it. I’m spent.

I can’t believe I have to do this all again tomorrow. And every day. For a year.

It’s fine. It’s all perfectly fine.

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