There’s something quite special about going to the theatre in the West End and getting a taxi home afterwards. None of that squeezing into disgusting Saturday night Tube trains then having to put up with the drunk run to Farnham from Waterloo only to get home the other side of midnight with no sense of having had an enjoyable night.
When you get a taxi home, you arrive mere minutes after the curtain has fallen for the final time, still luxuriating in the performances.
At least, that’s what happened tonight. We’d been to see Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit starring Charles Edwards as a wonderfully understated and henpecked Charles, the always delightful Janie Dee as his glamourous wife, Ruth and the marvellous Jemima Rooper as the ghostly Elvira. Oh, and I should also mention that Angela Lansbury was playing Madame Arcati.
I would also like to mention, in passing, the wonderful wardrobe, managed expertly by Traipsy Drake. What a fabulously theatrical name for a wardrobe manager…or for anything, really.
The play is fantastic anyway but with such a stellar cast, how could it fail to entertain? And it didn’t…fail to entertain, I mean. It was jolly funny and a great way to spend our first Saturday night in London. I’m going to ignore the three guys sitting in the row in front of us. The guy who had to clap everytime he found something funny, laughing proving nowhere near expressive enough. The guy in the middle with the biggest head ever to enter a theatre – had he been outside, he would have blotted out the sun. And the old guy on the end who kept looking at the guy with the big head whenever he laughed, as if wondering why.
I did mention to Mirinda that the only problem with coming to the theatre in the West End (and popular theatre at that) is the audiences have no idea how to act in public. I mean, really, anyone with a little experience of the theatre, would realise if they have a giant head, they should be sitting in the back row and not the front. It meant I was dodging around him which would have made the guy behind me dodge and the guy behind him…and so on, right to the back.
Still, it didn’t ruin my night and I laughed with great and embarrassing abandon, though, just before the curtain, I was convinced that Mirinda wasn’t going to make it.
We’d split up at Waterloo, me to the flat with the very heavy suitcase and her to the theatre via somewhere to sit for a bit. The plan was to meet outside the theatre at 7:15. If one or the other of us were not there, then one or the other of us was to go in regardless. I waited until 7:25 before going into the theatre, having stood on the corner outside for over half an hour. I was upset that she was going to miss it. As I approached my seat, there she was, waiting for me, concerned that I was going to miss the start. Happily and together, we enjoyed every single moment of it.
The rest of the day was basically getting the final things ready for our trip into Town, with a short detour to Dave the Builder’s house to check out his threshold because Mirinda couldn’t imagine it and, of course, a trip to Sandra’s to drop Day-z off.
I have to admit that I hated dropping Day-z off. Since Carmen’s untimely death, Day-z has become particularly attached to me. Hopefully she won’t fret too much or howl because I’m not there. She could drive poor Sandra mad.
And I guess I should say something about Angela Lansbury. She was very good for a woman of her age. Her experience showed as she deftly danced around a number of errors she made. It helps that Arcati is a bit odd to start with. In fact, the only really annoying thing was how the audience seemed to think that Ms Lansbury was the best thing in the whole play and that was just not right.
And I’m not convinced about the decision to give her the final bow…though I can understand it from the point of view of the other actors. But when the audience stood up to applaud her, I was stunned. As I said to Mirinda, “See what happens when you’ve been on the telly?” It’s a rare performance that deserves a standing ovation and this wasn’t one of them. Still, I’m sure that Angela understands.
As an indicator of the level of audience experience…they applauded the recorded song, played before the curtain was raised.
Please, believe me, I am not, in any way, denigrating Angela’s performance. She was terrific, playing a wonderful Madame Arcati. All I’m saying is that she was not a lead character and the fact that she is Jessica Fletcher should not guarantee an over zealous applause.
And I don’t care what Monali says, either.