Friday, October 21, 2005

And Then Malvolio Did Start To Adlib

And Then Malvolio Did Start To Adlib

If there are some aspects of being the 'face of the WYP' (not my face specifically, just the spiel of our bosses) that aren't particularly thrilling (getting covered in ice cream gunk, getting second degree burns from the coffee machine*, getting to clear up vomit to name** just a few of the things that I'm getting that I could easily do without) then there are equally the things that mean that I'm more than happy to watch the second half of Twelfth Night five times. Firstly, it must be said, my name badge. Because having a name badge is fun. I'm not exactly sure why, but it is.

Also as I was fulfilling my role as wandering programme seller*** (only I wasn't wandering that much as we only had 150 people in for the matinee and, hey, my legs were tired) a gentleman came up to talk to me about Twelfth Night. And it wasn't to ask about which theatre it was in, or when it finished but simply to tell me how much he'd enjoyed the production. And whilst I can't speak for every FOH-er out there, I loved this. Because I need no excuse to talk about theatre; I loved just how clear his enjoyment was and the fact he'd come and told me about it. I loved the fact that - courtesy of the name badge, a swipe card and a few programmes - the production belonged a little to me.

If I wasn't totally taken with Twelfth Night to start with, I have to confess that the production's grown on me (not like a boil, more like the current vogue for waistcoats). It's become startingly obvious of how much audience enjoyment plays its part. The first time I saw the second half we had 300 in, probably the backbone of the people who come to the WYP. People laughed but it was reserved. On Wednesday night we were nearing 600, probably half of which were schools. People clapped between scenes, jokes that even I as a Shakespeare addict didn't find funny got a laugh and as for the real funny stuff, Cesario and Sir Andrew's fight, Malvolio's reaction to the fake letter, Sir Andrew's hair**** - I thought I was going to go deaf. And the actor's were feeding off of this, milking everything for its true worth, fighting to steal the show. So it got rowdier and rowdier, until at the end it was arms above heads clapping, people woo-ing and shouting. And I clapped as loudly as any of the paying audience. The production had deserved it.

Downstairs the audience for My Mother Said I Never Should (which, most nights, is on the verge of a returns only policy) was doing their best to remove the roof of the Courtyard Theatre. In the Post-Show Discussion one of the actresses commented that on night's like that an actor almost feels invincible, they can do anything. If it fills an actor with this, it also infects the audience. It becomes one of those brilliant communal experiences that you can only get in a theatre.

But, back to my name badge...

*Apparently the moment that the coffee machine went ballistic and refused to stop spurting coffee during the interval was "awesome". I'd like to voice my dissagreement on this.

**Haven't had to do this yet, but oh Christmas awaits...

***I think of it as being like the sellers during 'Who will buy...' in Oliver.

****For anyone who doesn't follow my comments, Sir Andrew has the best quiff I have ever seen.


Nik said...

I love Twelfth Night, I'm very jealous, but then again, I did get to see Jason... :P

Val said...

Wow - once again, the power of theatre! I love it and it really comes across in what you write. Clearly there are some aspects to the job, however, that I wouldn't appreciate!