We’ve been in lockdown for more than three weeks now. The disbelief and confusion giving way to waves of fear, frustration and overwhelming sadness as we’re forced to be apart from loved ones. I’ll admit it’s been pretty difficult to deal with and I’ve found myself cut off from my usual coping mechanisms. When I want to scream, I go to see live sport. I can shout, scream and roar in support of my teams and vent any emotions that way. When I want to laugh, or smile (or cry), I have always turned to theatre…
Now though, the theatres are all dark, only the ghost lights burn on empty stages. Actors are turning to their savings or taking jobs and volunteering roles from care homes and hospitals to supermarkets.
Sure, there are plenty of shows available to watch online, but it’s never quite the same is it? Andrew Lloyd Webber has even been streaming one of his productions each week. Joseph and Jesus graced YouTube first, and to be honest, I gave them a miss. I’m not the biggest Joseph fan and, for Jesus Christ Superstar, I’m firmly in favour of the 1996 production over the arena tour.
But then came the streaming of The Phantom of The Opera. It’s the 2011 concert at the Royal Albert Hall and it’s all very good. I’ve smiled, I’ve hummed along and before I realise it Ramin Karimloo is singing Music of The Night and I’ve got tears in my eyes. Have I really missed theatre this much?
It’s not like I go that much anymore… Over the past two years, I’ve barely averaged a show a month. Where I used to be regularly in London reviewing, I now don’t get any further than Chichester. As I’ve progressed in my ‘day job’, I’ve found it harder and harder to commit to travelling in order to see anything.
But as Joni Mitchell pointed out: “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. As theatre has gone out of my life, I’ve craved it more and more. Sometimes you need an intervention to put your life back on track and this is the reminder that I needed… theatre is a drug and I don’t want to kick it, in fact I want to up my dose.
Whether it’s the bombast of a big musical, the exquisite joy of Shakespeare or the beauty of ballet I’m looking forward to putting myself back in the stalls and even more to writing about those trips afterward.
Until then, streams will have to be my methadone, so pass me the tissues – Ramin and Sierra Boggess are about to launch into All I Ask Of You and I need to let some emotions out!