It’s not a joke waiting for a punchline, rather it’s something I’ve been puzzling over ever since I had my view and enjoyment of a play disturbed not once but twice by latecomers.
On entering the auditorium the usher had taken pains to tell everyone that there was strictly no-readmittance if you decided to leave for any reason. Someone getting up to leave is disturbing for the rest of the audience and potentially the actors which, presumably, is why there is no re-admittance.
But latecomers are no less disturbing, particularly if the seating is such that people have to stand up to allow access. The play I was watching was short, about 75 minutes straight through and there was very little room for pause.
I was sitting in the circle and about 20 minutes in two people were allowed to their seats in the row in front which meant a completely blocked view and jolted me away from the play. About 10 minutes later the same thing happened.
It was distracting, particularly in the early stages of a play when the plot and characters were being set up. I soon realised that I’d actually missed a key piece of dialogue during the disturbance. Sometimes you can catch up but in this instance I watched the rest of the play feeling like I’d missed something important.
I’ve very occasionally cutting it fine to make the start of a play but I’ve never arrived late; my parents were notoriously early for everything and I suppose it’s rubbed off. There was just one occasion when I had terrible transport problems but as soon as I realised I wasn’t going to make curtain up, I turned around and went home. I didn’t want to be the person everyone hates for pulling them out of the moment of the play.
Which leads to my second question: Would this have been allowed in the stalls? Was the reason late-comers were admitted because it was the circle and therefore not going to disturb as many people or the actors? I really hope that isn’t the case.
Would a blanket ban on latecomers be overkill? What do you think?
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From the archive: Re-review – has Kit Harington’s performance in Dr Faustus blossomed?
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