Why theatres should go water only

We go to the theatre for a number of reasons – marvelling at artistic creativity, enjoying a good sing-along, spending time with friends… we don’t go to the theatre to enjoy a log-flume-like soaking.

On a recent theatre trip we were treated to not one, not two, but three rounds of full drink spillages from the delightful couple behind us. The first wine disaster happened just before the interval, when I found my lovely Radley bag dripping with acidic pungent liquid. Clearly not learners of their mistakes, the clumsy fool knocked over an entire pint of fruit cider all over our shoes and bags (in fairness, my bag would have been on my knee at that point, had it not been soaking from their first spillage). The third and final time was a quarter-full plastic glass of wine which, given our ground-dwelling belongings were already about as wet as we could get them bar dunking them baptism-style in a barrel of lager, wasn’t too bad.

Water is the answer to this. Would I have cared if water had been spilt on our things? Okay, I wouldn’t have been delighted, but I would have coped. But to now have to thoroughly clean the alcohol stink from our stuff is something I’m actually quite bitter about, petty though it sounds. And, gloriously, the man in question beautifully and skillfully avoided all eye contact with us to avoid any possible opportunity to apologise. Aside from actively confronting him about his appalling behaviour and etiquette (which I was exceptionally tempted to do), we had no option but to let him sail out of the theatre as if that was the appropriate way to behave.

Let’s enjoy a clear-headed trip to the theatre, for once, or a cheeky drink before the show or during the internal. Why are we so dependent on alcohol we can’t go an hour without it? Soon we’ll start letting people order their drinks throughout, like an Everyman cinema. The point is theatres aren’t cinemas – they are live art. Snobby though it sounds, many theatre-goers pay a great deal of money to have their experience spoiled by the few that think it’s acceptable to treat the theatre like a fancy pub.

If you can’t keep still, keep hold of your drink. Which, in turn, means you are unable to clap properly and show your respect for the performers. It’s all a vicious cycle of disrespect, and I’m getting sick of it.

I can’t blame our theatres – it’s a handy bit of business that brings a tidy bit of profit in. I just wish people would bring with them a bit of common sense when it comes to the wonderful magic of the theatre environment. Is it an appropriate place to sit and unpack a whole Tupperware full of goodies? I’d say not. Is it a place to get slowly hammered on your sixth pint of the night? I’d say definitely not. In such a close, potentially claustrophobic environment, I really do urge people to have more respect and consideration for their theatre-neighbours. Some people care for the show, and the cast on stage, and want to sit for the three hours they’ve been looking forward to without being interrupted by others.

What are your thoughts? Tweet me @_SophieJoelle.

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