It is 7.45pm on Thursday evening. I am just home from Theatre Upstairs on Eden Quay, where this evening I went to see ‘Murder of crows’ by Lee Coffey in its world premiere run. Showtime was 7pm.
It was a spontaneous decision to attend. After my morning torment on the way to work,(read all about it HERE) I decided that I was going to treat myself this evening. The plan was to see a film. While on my lunch-break I logged on to Facebook and in the ‘events you might be interested in’ section I saw the poster for this play.
It looked promising. A three hander in a theatre that I had never been to, which was conveniently located close to my house. Even better was the start time of 7pm. This meant that I didn’t have to either hang about town for a an hour, or rush home to eat and sprint back, to be on time. Best of all – the price. A steal at 12 euros. That’s the same price as a cinema ticket. Why would I spend the same amount on a cinema ticket when I could go see a live performance of a new play?
I arrived at 6.30. I purchased my ticket from the friendly gentleman at the box office and went around the corner for chicken wings at Supermacs. Didn’t I have oodles of time after all? Get some spicy food into me and then return with minutes to spare.
I arrived back at 6.57. The audience was assembled waiting for admittance to the showroom.
Unlike concerts or sporting events, when at the theatre, the start time is non-negotiable. At a concert, if your ticket says ‘Doors 7pm’ then it means the very earliest you need to get there is 8pm (unless it’s Bruce Springsteen – his shows last four hours so they start on the button). If there is a special guest (also known as a support act) then an 8.45 arrival will suffice. Even if you are late then it makes no odds. Audience participation is expected. The screams of the adoring crowd means that a late arrival will go unheeded.
At a play this doesn’t work. Late arrivals and audience participation are unwelcome – it is distracting and disrespectful to the performers who are concentrating, performing somebody’s script live.
This means that the start time is accurate. Of course there is usually a five minute delay while the audience settles into the auditorium. This is expected. But if an audience member rocks up fifteen minutes after the beginning they will be told to sling their hook, and depart.
You plan your arrival time to make sure you’ll get in and you’ll factor transit time – to avoid being turned away. Especially if – unlike me – you’ve planned to see the show and travelled to see it.
Tonight however, I waited.
At 7.10, the charming box office guy announced that we would be admitted within five minutes.
What was going on? Was there a technical fault? A late arrival of a cast member? Had the stage collapsed?
Ten minutes later he returned with the sombre news that one of the actors had been taken violently ill, rushed to hospital, and as a result tonight’s show was cancelled. Money would be refunded, and an update would be left on social media to inform the baying crowds whether Friday’s show would go ahead.
The mystery of it all. Maybe the actor is genuinely sick, in which case I send her my best wishes for a speedy recovery. Although wouldn’t this have been known at 6.30 when I arrived? A conundrum wrapped up in a mystery.
If Friday’s show proceeds then it would mean that her violent illness was of the 24 hour variety – in which case was it just an excuse? But an excuse for what? Or is one of the unfortunate actors being blamed to disguise the real reason?
Who can say? It’s all smoke and mirrors in the dramatic world.
You can bet your cotton socks that I’ll be there on Friday. Not just to see the play (which is my main intention). But also to sniff out whether shenanigans were afoot tonight.
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