Last night I went to see a performance of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at the Playhouse Theatre. A musical comedy farce about four separate women’s disastrous love lives. Tamsin Greig stars as Pepa, the actress whose co-star Ivan, has just left her. His estranged wife Lucia (Haydn Gwynne), is finally taking him to court after nineteen years of separation, for abandonment. Pepa’s needy best friend, Candela (Anna Skellern), has gotten herself into man trouble yet again but sleeping with a man who is now wanted by the police. All this and more, everything can be made better with a glass of gazpacho (or can it?)
I was very excited to be sitting up close and personal in the front row of the stalls, right in front of the stage, until a drunk couple fell into their seats just before the show began. When I say ‘fell into’ I am not exaggerating. The man was incapable of standing and was being carried to his seat by his female companion. During the interval, an usher came over to the people and said; “I’m embarrassed to have to say this, but there have been complaints made by the actors on stage that they are being distracted by the sexual behaviour that is happening and could you please save it until after the show”.
My jaw dropped! I’ve seen and heard a lot of things at the theatre over the years, and have heard stories of sexual liaisons happening, but never have I found myself (unknowingly) sat next to these types of shenanigans!
I glowed with embarrassment at what was said in front of me by the poor Usher but the couple pretended not to know what he was talking about. Whether they continued through Act 2 I don’t know, as I kept my eyes firmly on the stage for fear of seeing something that would haunt me for years to come.
My initial thought, before any of this happened, was that this man (who was far too drunk to be able to concentrate on watching a show), should not have been let in to the theatre. However, I decided that the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ rule should apply and if he had paid for a ticket then he should be allowed in to watch the show until he proved himself to be a nuisance. Sadly, he did cause an issue and it was the actors on stage who were affected.