|Conleth Hill and Imelda Staunton as George and Martha|
Four days in London. Sorry I was out of action in blogging terms for I just couldn't get on with my daughter's Apple laptop. Anyway, suffice to say I am back in Yorkshire with various blogging ideas I could develop in order to bore you to death. Be warned.
For this post, I am just going to report back on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woof?" by Edward Albee. It is currently being staged at The Harold Pinter Theatre off Leicester Square. It's a play I studied and wrote about when I was eighteen years old but I hadn't seen a live performance of it until Thursday night. It was definitely worth waiting for this production. I had a great seat in the second row of the stalls.
There are only four characters in the play - Nick, Honey, George and Martha. The latter role was played by Imelda Staunton. It would be easy to summarise the plot but you can find such information elsewhere. Let me just say that it is a late night/early morning drama in which tongues are loosened as the four characters confront notions of truth and illusion. It is both intense and powerful.
At the end of the show, I was out of my seat applauding the faultless performance I had just enjoyed. Imelda Stanton and Conleth Hill (George) had both been brilliant, so engaged with their parts, appreciating the significance of every word they voiced. I got lost in the play, my inner thoughts reduced to naught. Bravo!
...But something else was happening. Just two seats further down Row B but also involving a group of theatregoers in Row C. Next to me in Row B were four men in the late thirties or early forties. As soon as the curtain went down for the interval an unholy row broke out between one of the men and the Row C people.
It seemed that in the first half of the show some annoyance had been caused. I had been totally unaware of this but one of the men was up out of his seat, bending his head towards the occupants of Row C, raising his voice and threatening them with physical violence. Reasonable protests emerged from Row C but they only added fuel to the angry man's fire. He sounded Russian or Eastern European. At one point he spat at two of the Row C people. It was rather shocking.
I deduced that the people in Row C had tried to shush this man during Act One. Apparently he had coughed a few times but I never heard this. I certainly wasn't aware of it. Even as the curtain went up for Act Two the angry man was still being loud and threatening but he went quiet as the show continued.
There was a short curtain break to alter the set between Acts Two and Three and again the nasty public row fired up. As I joined in the standing ovation after the final curtain it all kicked off once again but fortunately, as the audience departed, the Row C people sensibly went for a different exit, avoiding further confrontation.
All of this was really quite bizarre. Luckily it didn't spoil my experience. It was almost as if the dramatic soul searching up on stage had spilt out into the audience. I was so glad that that angry man hadn't been venting his flame on me. I would probably have lamped him, yelling "Who's Afraid of Yorkshire Pudding?" before my inevitable arrest.