Last week, I rather rashly enjoyed evenings of culture on three separate (and worse, consecutive) school nights. This, in itself, taught me the valuable (if fairly obvious) lesson that I really don’t have the stamina for this degree of fun – however, this is not either of the two lessons I plan to bore you with this e’en (as I’m writing. You may like to read this post during an evening yourself to reproduce some of the appropriate ambience).
The third night of culture involved some of Vivaldi’s lesser known sacred B-sides, which was enjoyable but did not generate any particular insights in this particular member of the audience. The two earlier nights were spent at the theatre and each did generate a lesson which will help to guide me in what remains of my time on earth.
On Tuesday night, I managed to blag a free ticket to the press night of the Nuffield Theatre’s production for Christmas (not a panto). OK, blag is probably not the right word – as a supporter of the theatre, the free ticket was one of my perks – but blagging sounds so much more exciting. The production was a version of The Snow Queen and was very entertaining: a great success with the middle-aged man demographic (as represented by the author), but I believe the much younger folk present had fun too. Without the free ticket, I probably would’t have gone – thinking myself too old and lacking a convenient child to provide a fig-leaf of plausibility – but that would have been my loss.
Talking of being too old, Southampton’s other theatre – the Mayflower – is staging a more traditional (for the 21st century) pantomime in Cinderella. In this production, Buttons – a role based on a Victorian page-boy – is being played by Brian Conley – a man somewhat older than I am. This means it is not too late for me to give my own Buttons, or indeed Romeo or other juvenile lead on stage. All I need now are a few acting lessons… (and to finish – or indeed start – writing my panto).
Anyway, to pick up the narrative thread once more, I had a lovely time at the Nuffield. As well as the play, I was invited to the pre- and post-show drinks and nibbles which were great fun. I could talk to theatrical people about the theatre (rather than merely harangue readers of this blog) and acquired heaps of recommendations for productions to go and see (all I need now is some extra hours in the day). However, the primary lesson came during the interval, when I discovered that it is very much more time-consuming to obtain an ice-cream when a significant portion of the audience is under 10. I’m more used to the situation where most of the audience is over 70, when it usually takes 60 seconds-or-less (or fewer if you believe time to be discrete rather than continuous, and there is some theoretical support for a granular reading of spacetime). As a result, I had a beer in the interval (a bottle of Flack Manor’s Flack Catcher, since you ask) as the queue at the bar was correspondingly shorter than normal. Never let it be said that I cannot adapt to changing circumstances. I was slightly worried that the lack of calories (though beer does, of course contain calories of the soi-disant empty kind) would leave me struggling on the cycle ride home, but luckily the post-play nibbles came to the rescue.
The following day I had to visit Woking for “the man”. In an attempt to salvage something from the day, I decided to continue on into London after my wage-slavery was over to visit the Finborough Theatre. Here, I discovered the importance of being au-fait with the fixture list of the Premier League. The Finborough is (I assume) reasonably near the ground of Chelsea Football Club, and as a result the tube to Earls Court, streets around same and Finborough Arms pub (which is also the entrance and foyer to the theatre) were heaving with (mostly) men with more blue-and-white clothing than is entirely usual. I think for a more restful pre-theatrical interlude, I will try and avoid visiting at such a time in future – which means I shall have to pay at least a little attention to the rather curious world of professional football, a modest ethnographic study (if you will). Anyway, ascending the stairs from the heat and tumult of the pub to the cool and peace of the theatre above was most welcome. The play, Silent Planet by Eve Leigh, was excellent – a work looking at the nature of freedom and captivity and the importance of books and stories.
I hope these hard-won lessons will be of value to at least some of the readers of GofaDM – but if not, I can’t honestly say I’ll be losing any sleep over the fact.