Okay so… I’m not the theatre one in this relationship. James is. But I have seen quite a bit over the years. In multiple countries.
James, however, has seen much more.
Which is why, as I sat through eleven and a half awful hours (actual running time: 70 minutes) in uncomfortable, increasingly sober silence I started to think… maybe it’s me?
I mean I like Pinter as much as the next gay. Is it possible I wasn’t watching an overacted, pointless turd? Was this what the-ATE-er is supposed to be like?
Looking around at the packed house two things were immediately obvious.
Firstly, they all had better seats than us. Seriously we were right at the side of a horse-shoe at stage level and one of the two pieces of stage furniture, a large bed, blocked our view of two thirds of the “action”. (Thank the gods for small mercies.)
Secondly… This is a pretty typical audience. There were the rich and elderly, the middle-aged homo couples, the people obviously affiliated with the theatre and then the theare students. All in the ratios I had come to expect. I hadn’t wandered into an alternate universe then.
So it probably was the play. The story -such as it is- involves an old man on his death bed yammering to his disinterested wife. On the other side of the stage -so “elsewhere”- is the story of the man’s two sons who are effete, spoilt “poets”. They have allegedly refused to go home and are avoiding contact with their mother. The reason for this isn’t clear.
Oh, and the daughter wanders in and out. Obviously something bad happened to her as well because she’s in her pyjamas.
Then it ends with an inexplicable monologue.
That seriously was it. The audience clapped briefly and the actors left. Tellingly, they didn’t return for that fake “encore applause” thing. I have never seen that happen. Clearly the actors knew it was a stinker.
I was looking forward to getting outside to ask James if what I just watched really was the stinker I thought it was.
Turns out I didn’t need to wait because the second thing I have never seen inside a theatre before started to happen. This quintessential, stereotypical theatre audience did something very strange. They turned to each other and said “that was awful” and “thank god there wasn’t an intermission. Let’s get out of here.”
Hooray! It really was awful. And by “Hooray” I mean “I want my Saturday night and fifty pounds back you assholes.”
Moonlight is on at the Donmar Theatre until May 28. So do NOT go anywhere near the place until after that. Just go straight to Pizza Express and get as embarrassingly drunk in front of families as I did in a vain effort to wash your mind out.