Once again I found myself standing in the cold in a queue full of strangers at what someone who works from home considers an ungodly early hour in the pursuit of theatre magic. One ticket to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” to be exact. Yes, the other day I decided to try the day seat thing again for the third time.
After the show is over and I’m riding the live theatre thrill, I always ask myself “Why don’t I do this more often?!” And then I remember how much of a hassle getting day seats is. There’s the waking up early part, riding the Tube like a sardine during rush hour part, then seeing the massive queue and kicking myself for not waking up even earlier part. But then there’s also the meeting new people part and collective “Will we or will we not get tickets?” exciting part. And then once that ticket is in hand it all seems worth it… until it’s time to wait for the bus to go back home, eat lunch and change, then take the Tube back to the theatre. I think I spent £10 just in bus and Tube fare that day.
But I met a delightful old British lady in the queue, who continuously phoned her elderly mother and said delightfully British things like, “Enjoy your morning cuppa, Mum!” And then there was the nice older couple from Portland who assumed the old British lady was my mum or grandmother because we arrived around the same time. I guess my obvious American accent didn’t give it away. They were nice company while we waited. There were at least 50 people ahead of us and we were beginning to lose hope. But the National Theatre had three productions going on that day, so I guess not everyone was waiting for the same show. I was able to get a restricted view matinee ticket, which meant I had to lean forward for most of the show, but it was worth it.
I read the book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” a few years ago. I remember I enjoyed it, but I also didn’t remember much about it. It didn’t seem like the kind of book that would easily translate to the stage, but it did, and brilliantly. It was in a small, 360-degree theatre and the use of props, actors, lights and sounds were out of this world. No wonder all performances were sold out! The story also meant more to me now that I live in London. I think some of the plot was lost on me when I first read the book because I had never been to London before. I didn’t understand why, “Take the Tube to Willesden Junction.” “What sort of tube?” “Are you for real?!” was funny.
While I was walking to the theatre I saw a horde of teenage girls talking loudly and pointing towards a young man standing outside the theatre. Eventually groups of them ran over and had their photo taken with him. When I was in the bathroom I heard girls saying things like, “I fancy him so much!” And “What’s he doing here? I think he’s friends with the guy in the show.” Apparently the guy was some British teen heartthrob and I had no idea who he was. He was sitting in the front row with his girlfriend and the girls seated in front of me spent more time staring at him than watching the show. I tried to eavesdrop to hear his name, but they never said it. I guess I’ll never know who he was.
I enjoy going to shows alone, even if it’s not culturally customary. Though you’re sitting in a quiet dark room, I guess people like to have someone to turn to to share a smile, a laugh, a tear. But I think there’s also something special about sharing that with an entire room of strangers for 2 hours and 40 minutes, and then going home with that experience all to yourself. It’s what got me through waiting 15 minutes for the bus home in the rain.