Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Theatre friends

We take our seats for Timon of Athens at the National. That play with Simon Russell Beale about the convenience of friendship, the social networks we stitch together for the pursuit of self-interest, and how to avoid the accountant, thus putting off the inevitable nemesis for as long as possible.

Squirrel immediately points out there are no children in the audience, none at all, except her and Tiger. It's true. Maybe parents think that Timon of Athens doesn't offer anything for the ordinary youth; there's no smart-talking lion or exploding building.

I scrutinise the audience, partly wondering what type of people choose to see Timon of Athens, and partly hoping I will see someone I know, so I can wave.

This is absurd. Especially how I peer at the rows of faces, when I know for sure there will be no-one I recognise. I don't have the type of friends who take their seats at the National at 7.20. They certainly don't wear dark suits and support women on their arms, women who wear heels and sway gently.

Thinking about it, I have never seen anyone I knew in the theatre-going audience; no-one I can wave to, and no-one I can't. Once - I forget which play - someone pointed out John Cleese in the stalls. Would that count as recognising someone, even someone I couldn't wave to and who wouldn't respond if I did? And in 1982, a crowd of us went to see When the Wind Blows, except someone was sat, bang in the middle of our booked seats. Obviously I chucked them out! I only paused to wonder why the rest of my party stayed huddled together in the aisle, whispering and pointing. Neil Kinnock? Well I didn't recognise him. If he wants to be leader of the Labour Party he should bloody well not inconvenience your ordinary theatre-goer, that's all I can say.

Anyway, a little bit of me is wistful. I wish I did see someone. I wish I could wave to people I knew. Only from the people I know, they would look weather beaten, run in, and dressed in old clothes. Maybe smelling a little of Linda McCartney's sausages, possibly even sporting a dribble of ketchup down the left side of their shirts.

I think I should start finding theatre friends. Ones I can air kiss and wave towards. I resolve, I will begin waving to people I don't know, and see if they wave back. Then I will choose someone's arm to lean on and sway, even though it's only 7.20, and I would find out if they held me, or let me fall.

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