Surrounded by bastards
January 8, 2009
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Last night I went to see In a Dark Dark House at the Almeida. Brilliant stuff, David Morrissey is astonishing, the writing is intelligent and doesn't pander to you. But the first scene is a bit slow and a bit (deliberately, I think) stilted, and you need to have been paying attention during the first scene to understand what's going on in the second otherwise it looks even creepier than it really is.
Unfortunately we were sat behind five rows of American students. Who didn't get the underlying subtext of the second scene. At all. So they got bored. A couple of them left. And I thank them for it. Because the JAPs in the row in front whispered throughout the entire final scene of the play. Thankfully it's so gripping and intense that I had my attention on David Morrissey and Steven Mackintosh the bulk of the time. But every now and again the theatrical spell would be broken by some hair flicking or a not-so-hushed comment that was easily heard above the pin-drop quiet of the rest of the auditorium. Then the boys in front of me got bored and one starting playing with a pen cap, or a watch strap, or something else that made a metallic clinking noise.
Obviously I gave the back of their bench a swift, sharp, vindictive kick.
So here's to any of those students who may, perchance, one day, stumble across this blog. If you don't have the life experience to appreciate what's being said and felt and wrung out of an actor's gut, get up and leave. If you've missed something crucial and are feeling left behind, get up and leave. If you simply find the whole thing crushingly dull, just get up and leave. Believe me, I would prefer the momentary disturbance of you edging to the exit than you fidgeting and whispering and giggling for the final half hour.
When the lights came up for the curtain call David Morrissey was in the act of passing his hand across his eyes. During the bows he kept widening his eyes as though slowly becoming himself again, or perhaps just feeling the exhaustion of being constantly on stage for an hour and 45 minutes and putting himself through the wringer every night for two months for our entertainment and edification – and that of the students. And I couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt for him, that he was clearly shattered and not being fully appreciated for his pains.
By the way, it's only on until next Saturday and there are still a few tickets available. You should go see it.