One of my most important jobs at the moment on Beginning (now showing at the Ambassadors Theatre – book early) is Audience Watch. It is in fact vital to the smooth running of the evening. I may (or may not) be seated in such a position that I can see out over a large swathe of the auditorium. There is a chandelier in the middle of the ceiling and some Wit on the company said I “look like the Phantom of the Opera” and that they “wouldn’t walk under the chandelier with you sitting there”.
The point is, I can see the audience coming in to take their seats. They can be categorised as follows:
The Faffers – I mean really, does it take THAT long to find your seat, take off your coat and sit down. Apparently it does.
The Fashion Statements – usually (but not always) female and involves large hats, and scarves.
The Picnickers – sandwiches, glasses of fizzy wine (masquerading as champagne), crisps. The sort of thing you take to the Heath on a summer’s day.
The Tinklers – generally about 7.32pm one of them will go off to the loo.*
The Cocktail Party Guests – stand with drinks in their hands at their seats looking all around
The Rather-Be-Somewhere-Elsers – involves looking at mobile phones which continues into the performance. Obviously thought they’d booked for The Mousetrap next door.
The Quaffers – usually seated in the middle of a full row, need a drink in each hand and have to get to seat at the last minute.
The Arctic Explorers – wild horses will not get them to take off that coat
The Passepartouts – three attempts to find the correct seat
The House Movers – Passepartouts plus lots of bags and coats
*in fairness I have to visit the Little Boys’ Room about three times in the 45 minutes before curtain up. I think the Front of House Staff pity me slightly.
During the performance I have to keep an eye anyone leaving, mobile phones and other bleepers going off, the front row not getting sprayed with “beer”, rustling sweet bags (one of which caused a loud SHUSH last night) and eccentric laughers. At the end it is very important that I note high-hand-clappers (there’s been a few specialist vertical-high-hand-clappers) and standing clappers. The Audience Exit needless to say involves:
The Selfie Generation – usually standing in front of a plain wall
The Left-Behinders – lost phones, bags etc.
The Discussion Groups – GO TO THE BAR
…..all of which is incredibly tiresome but I am always stoic in adversity, and wait without complaint for them to get out.
Other news –
I am still finding remembering the actors’ names a bit of a challenge – with a cast of two, that’s understandable – but having watched the play for a few weeks now, I have realised I am witnessing a masterclass in opening and closing oven doors, placing sauce bottles on a kitchen counter, absorbing spilled “beer” from carpets, opening beer cans and wine bottles, pulling down tinsel curtains and dancing to Bros and Modjo.
Hear me tonight – I owe you a lot.