September 30, 2007

Catching a Play in London: In which I am exposed to the arts, or something like that
by docsmartypants

We finish our trip in London. Last night Jen and I went to see the play “Elling,” which stars one of our favourite Brit actors—and my imaginary boyfriend—John Simm. The play itself was terrific: funny, well written, excellently cast. And of course John was a thousand kinds of brilliant in it. But let me start at the beginning.

We decided to err on the side of classy. Jen wore a very nice dress; I had a brand new stripy blouse with black slacks. I wore all kinds of makeup. If you squinted you might have thought I looked like a girl. I even left the flaming Converse in the hotel room. After making our way over to Trafalgar Square, stopping for a snack and a few photo ops, we found the theatre and made our way inside. We quickly abandoned any hope of using the ladies’ room when the line ahead of us stubbornly refused to move for 10 minutes. So, tickets in hand, we made our way into the theatre itself to take our seats.

This is when what can only be described as the first “Oh shit” moment occurred. We knew we were in the front row—were very excited about this in fact. And whenever anyone joked about how on earth I was going to resist throwing myself on stage or blushing like a maniac or yelling something inappropriate in a Tourettes-like fit of affection for John, I had comforted myself with the knowledge that 1) I have more control than that, 2) He’d be up on stage—not an easy place to access, and 3) I’ve been on stage before and you can’t really see the audience.

Except this was not your average theatre. It was, to put it mildly, “intimate.” It had that stadium type seating that comes straight down to the floor, which is where the “stage” was. So basically, our feet were on the stage. And it wasn’t a big stage either. At no point would the actors be more than about twenty or thirty feet from us. Maximum. Other times they would be much closer, say…right at our feet.

Oh, and they could totally see us.

I panicked. Well, first I burst out laughing. For her part, Jen, between laughs, just said, “I’m sorry. I’m so, SO sorry.” I can’t really describe how exposed being in this situation felt. Because you are literally within reach of the actors at some points. And even though they are focused on the play, you still know that they can see you the whole time. Including the various times John appeared to be using our seats as a mark, which meant he appeared to be looking straight at us. Extremely unnerving. But I am made of strong stuff, so by the time the play started I had calmed myself down and figured, ah hell, it can’t get any worse, right?


Ha ha, sucker!

A couple of minutes into the play John took off his trousers. (That’d be “Oh shit” moment number two, in case you hadn’t guessed.) It was like suddenly being very sure that you’re dreaming because no situation could possibly be this absurd. They weren’t off for long, but still—there should be a warning or something! I feel like the tickets should have come with a note: “Dear fangirls, John will be in his underwear, so maybe, y’know, brace yourselves. And don’t sit in the front row.”

Mercifully the moment passed quickly, though I am pretty sure I was still blushing when the intermission arrived. But the play was very funny, and his character was extremely silly, so I was able to relax eventually.

And then the trousers came off again.

Honestly! I ask you: How much is one woman expected to endure?

Just so you don’t worry, I survived with my dignity pretty much intact. When it looked like he was staring straight at me? Well, I may have averted my eyes a bit. When he fell on the floor at my feet? I stayed cool as a cucumber. (Despite what Helen had urged me to do, I kept my hands to myself!) The third time the pants came off? Barely flinched.

Still, as much as I loved the play and everyone in it, I think that may be the last time I ever decide to sit in the front row.

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6 Comments to

“Catching a Play in London: In which I am exposed to the arts, or something like that”

  1. On September 30th, 2007 at 6:57 pm The Ghetto Says:

    Too bad Jon Steward, Colin Firth and John Cusak weren’t in it as well — although I think you may have exploded! 🙂 Hope to hear from you when you get back. Lots of love!

  2. On October 1st, 2007 at 8:40 am EGT Says:

    I don’t care what you say. If I can get front row to “Hamlet,” it is so done.

  3. On October 1st, 2007 at 9:12 pm docsmartypants Says:

    Yes, well, David is unlikely to take his trousers off during Hamlet. Although you just never know these days…

  4. On October 2nd, 2007 at 10:14 pm unruly redhead Says:

    How does it feel to live submerged in a murky, shameful lagoon of regret?

    You should have taken my advice and seized the moment. No pants? As the co-ruler of Helonja often cries out in disbelief: Great Googly Moogly!

    Couldn’t you hear me chanting in your head: “Don’t not do it! Don’t not do it!”

  5. On October 7th, 2007 at 11:12 am docsmartypants Says:

    “How does it feel to live submerged in a murky, shameful lagoon of regret?”

    Feels absolutely ace. You know, it is exactly this sort of unconditional love and support that I have come to expect from you. Really. You should win some sort of friendship award. Truly.

  6. On May 21st, 2009 at 8:40 pm EGT Says:

    But we had front row at “The Importance of Being Earnest!”

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