The clock creeps to 7.34… then 7.36… the doors to the auditorium are still open.
Sure, it’s only a few minutes late, but in real terms that’s a missed train, a rearranged pick-up, ten minutes you could do without wasting in your busy day. And, of course, we all know the show’s going to start late now. When the bell goes, we assume we have enough time to grab a drink or go to the bathroom. Two minutes doesn’t mean two minutes – and everyone knows that now.
If we started shows bang on when they’re meant to start, to the uncomfortable clock-watching second, we’d all have a much less anxious theatre experience. I’d be comfy in my seat ten minutes in advance, reading my programme and waiting for the show to start. No more last-minute bustling through the rows as the person sitting right in the middle decides to waltz in five minutes late because they know the show won’t start for another few minutes.
It ruins the element of surprise and anticipation to know the curtain isn’t going to go up when you expect it to – you’re instead left with an irritated unknown time, meaning the glorious first few notes of the overture are overlooked with an actual relief the damn show’s started.
With shows getting ever so technical these days, I understand it’s hard for the backstage team to get everything ready and ship-shape for a spot-on opening. But I’d really like them to try.
What are your thoughts? Tweet me @_SophieJoelle.