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How To Behave In The Theatre Part 2

A few months ago, I had a rant about some of the annoying things people do at the theatre - fidgeting, texting, talking and so on. You can check it out here to get caught up! But based on recent experience, I seem to have forgotten a few. So here's part 2 of my guide to theatre dos and don'ts.

Don't take photos

I mean, seriously. How would you like it if you were at work and someone came and stuck a camera in your face? When it comes to taking photos of everything that happens, to put online later, I'm as bad as the next person - but there are times to put the camera away and just enjoy the show. If you must take a photo to document your evening out, take one outside. And while we're on the subject...

Don't record videos

This should be common sense, but judging by the lady in front of me a few weeks ago, it's not. Apart from anything else, if you're recording, you're not watching the show you've probably paid quite a lot of money to see. There have often been productions I'd love to see again, but not on a fuzzy phone screen. Also, it's annoying for the people behind you. Oh, right, and it's not allowed. Is that enough reasons?

Eat before, or after, not during

Recently, I was at the theatre and the family in front decided they couldn't possibly wait another ten minutes until the interval to start having a full-on picnic. Several minutes ensued of passing food up and down the row, opening cans of fizzy drink, and discussing none too quietly what was meant for whom, while everyone around them got increasingly irritated. That's a pretty extreme example, but the fact remains that there are very few foods it's possible to eat without making some noise. There are plenty of perfectly good opportunities to eat - before the show, at the interval, afterwards. Not while it's quiet and the poor actors are trying to make themselves heard over the rustling of wrappers.

Only sit in one seat

The Railway Children is a lovely show and I'd recommend it to anyone. But when I saw it a few weeks ago, my enjoyment was ruined for much of the evening by the lady next to me, who felt it necessary to sit at an angle in her seat the whole time, taking up half of my space as well as her own (this was not a one-off incident; the same thing happened with the guy next to me at Cats). Consequently I ended up half sitting on the person next to me, who - fortunately! - I knew. It's true that sometimes theatre seats can be a bit cramped, but if we all just sit on the seat we've paid for, it'll make everyone much happier.

Think before bringing little ones

I'm all for bringing children to the theatre; my parents used to take me to shows when I was little, and I loved it. But it depends what kind of show it is. I wouldn't have wanted to see Les Mis when I was six; the big bangs still scare me a bit even now (because I'm a wuss) and back then would probably have terrified me. Besides, the story just isn't really suitable for young children, and I'd probably have been confused and, dare I say it, a bit bored. And bored (or scared) children tend not to be great at sitting still or keeping quiet. Which means either everyone around them gets fed up, or their parents end up having to take them out and miss half the action themselves.

Explain later!

Last summer, I was at a performance of Romeo and Juliet, which was great, and we were all really enjoying it. And then, just as we got to the business end of things, when Romeo thinks Juliet's dead and is making his way back to Verona, a lady not far from me started explaining what was happening to her grandson. Needless to say, this slightly ruined the moment, particularly as, once again, she wasn't bothering to keep her voice down. Personally, I like to have some idea of the plot before I go to see a show, but even if you prefer not to do that, I suggest waiting till it's over to start discussing the story.

I know I complain about this a lot, but it frustrates me that some people are so disrespectful of something I love so much. Going to the theatre isn't cheap for any of us, and it seems to me that if we all sat quietly and paid attention, everyone would have a better time. And my blood pressure would be lower. And you wouldn't have to listen to me complain about it. So it's win-win, really.

Liz Dyer

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