Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The theatregoers' POSIWID

Following Old Vic boss Kevin Spacey's warning to audiences that, if they cannot turn off their mobile phones or insist on rustling sweet papers, they should stay away from his productions, Michael Billington, the Guardian's theatre critic extended the list:

Do not:

1. Text-message friends, relations and colleagues and then, like my neighbour at the recent Old Vic Hamlet, look angrily indignant when asked to desist.

2. Wait till the play's tensest moment to cough or expectorate, thus confirming James Agate's point that "in England nobody goes to the theatre unless he or she has bronchitis".

3. Pass audible comments on the performance in progress, like the lady at Side by Side by Sondheim who, staring fixedly at David Kernan, announced to her neighbour: "I see turn-ups are coming back." Or, worse still, the spectator at Macbeth who loudly proclaimed: "Something very similar happened to Monica."

4. Ransack your briefcase or handbag and empty its entire contents on the floor in search of the missing tissue that invariably lies at the bottom.

5. Snog, canoodle or have oral sex with your partner in a stage-box, as happened in Jolson - The Musical at the Victoria Palace, thus riveting the attention of not only the entire audience but also everyone in the cast.

6. Ostentatiously read the programme or even the play-text while some unparalleled coup de th├ętre is taking place on stage or some vital piece of plot information is being relayed.

7. Laugh hysterically at the most mundane piece of comic business to prove that you too are a paid-up member of the acting profession.

8. Noisily swig from a water bottle as if the mere act of watching a play were likely to cause you to expire from premature dehydration.

9. Turn to your partner at the delivery of every other line as if to advertise to the world that you are in love, on honeymoon or incapable of solitary enjoyment.

10. Die in the middle of a performance. Please, have the decency to wait until the interval.

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