Is an ‘Interval’ really necessary at the theatre?
This week, the highly anticipated production of Stephen Sondheim‘s musical Follies started previews at the National Theatre starring Janie Dee, Tracie Bennett and Imelda Staunton.
With a running time of two hours and ten minutes, I was surprised to see that there is no interval (although this could possibly change before the official opening night) and the show is going back to the original production, which was a one act show.
Recently I went to see Audra MacDonald portray Billie Holiday in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar And Grill which was ninety minutes without an interval, which is think is the maximum amount of time I would personally like to sit in my seat for without moving around. A similar length is the one act play Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour, which flirted with the idea of including an interval in the West End production but decided against it by opening night as they felt it broke the energy of the piece. But seeing that Follies is quite a lot longer than these shows, the idea of not having a break does put me off somewhat from going to see the show.
People might argue that you go to the cinema and watch a film that is sometimes two hours or longer and you don’t expect to have an interval half way through and so why should it be any different at the theatre? This is an interesting point but at the cinema it is much more socially acceptable to get up out of your seat, go to the toilet, or go to get drinks and snacks. It is much easier to get in and out of the aisles as well, whereas most big West End theatre’s have very old auditoriums that don’t make it easy to get up and out of. Plus of course, with the price of theatre tickets exceeding £200 in some cases, audiences don’t want to be disturbed by people coming and going as they please. And of course, the biggest reason I can’t fathom the idea of sitting in a seat for more than two hours is because of my tiny bladder! An interval is always appreciated by the herds of people who flock to the toilets as soon as the lights go up.
Oh interval, I want you so, it’s like I’m losing my mind. I guess this is one show I will have to wait for the NT Live Cinema screening of!