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It happens to me.

May 2, 2012 started as a collection of my own personal experiences of theatregoing. Those buying the book get the whole story in the introduction section.

I still, though, from time to time get emails from readers who wonder how come they always get some problem whenever they go to the theatre.

Well, all I can say is that “it does happen to me too.”

There’s quite a lot you can’t do anything about. Traffic and public transport making you late for a start. I’ve had several ‘close shaves’ – once saved only by the fact a technical problem kept the curtain down past the official start time.

On arrival, I’ve got to my seat and found it… gone… removed and nobody bothered to tell me I needed a new ticket from the box office.

I’ve also found a broken seat, and had one break while I was sat on it during the show (hairy, as it was a temporary seat, back row of a grandstand with only a back rail between me and a drop… guess what, it was the back rail that snapped…).

Most recently, I was allocated a ticket in a section of a venue (which shall remain anonymous here) notorious for poor legroom. I really didn’t want to sit down, but 10 minutes before show time I did… and had to (sorry, everybody, I really mean that) disturb a whole row 5 minutes later when my knee “locked.” Luckily, I found an empty seat and a kind usher allowed me to use it for the duration. Interestingly, by the interval twenty more refugees were eyeing the same seat and any other with more than a square inch to put a knee. Important rule: move first, and legitimise your move with staff to protect your interest.

My companion in the squashed seat moved to join me at half time – complaining that the person next to them was using a handheld computer during the whole first act. Light and noise distracting. In theatre, hell truly is other people, and most can add stories of the nearby theatregoer who needed a bath / Ritalin / seatbelts / straightjackets / gobstoppers / Rastafarian hairdresser. Anybody with genuine illnesses is of course exempted, but for the rest – as one Texan reader once said, “They should sell tazers with the ice-creams.”

Then there’s the show production itself. A few are notorious for being impossible to watch. Not because they are rubbish (though one falls into this category, for me, anyway) but because set, choreography and direction conspire to make it impossible to see the whole show from ANY seat in the theatre.

The worst producers are those who “sneak it” – refusing to admit a sightlines problem (that’s a criminal offence, in fact) though others do at least drop the price of a few – but not all – seats affected. If it’s a physical problem, a reminder of the “Ticket Reselling” laws should solve it on the night.

Other happenings: double booked? getting ill? Star missing that night? Show abandoned due to technical failure? Hit in the front row by flying objects? Yes to all those, can tick ‘em off over the years. Spend enough time in theatres, its all bound to happen.

Theatre is a LIVE experience, and that goes for the audience too, who’d have it any other way?!



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