Opinion: Why I Hate The Theatre by Brandon Robshaw

Opinion: See It, Say It, Shut Up! By Brandon Robshaw

Last week I went to the theatre. It doesn’t matter what the play was.

The experience was everything you’d expect it to be: actors stomping about the stage, gesticulating wildly, talking in unnaturally loud voices, flecks of spittle flying from their mouths, working themselves into passions for insufficient reasons, assuming facial expressions of rage, grief, sorrow, puzzlement, anguish and wide-eyed wonder that would have been considered exaggerated in the silent film era.

The actors uttered unnatural sentences that are all-too-obviously intended to denote internal conflict or character development, occasionally making lame, footling jokes greeted by knowing, appreciative laughter from the audience (compared to the average theatre audience, Wimbledon spectators are comedy connoisseurs of superb discernment).

The whole embarrassing spectacle was watched in conditions of severe discomfort, jammed up in narrow velvet seats with wooden arms and so little room that the entire row has to stand up if anyone arrives or departs, relieved by a fifteen-minute interval the whole of which has to spent queuing for a gin-and-tonic which you have no time to drink and which costs about fifty pounds.

And it’s already set you back a hundred quid to be there in the first place. And, of course, the play is of such a length and has been staged on purpose at such a time that it’s too early to eat before and too late to eat afterwards. 

There are some things I like about the theatre. I like the sets. I love a good set. And the lighting. And if there’s a swordfight, that’s a plus. But really that’s about it. Some types of play are less repugnant to me than others. I can tolerate pantomimes, for they don’t feature method-acting or long tense pauses; they don’t have any pretensions to be anything other a frivolous waste of time.

And I can watch Shakespeare, for the artificiality of the language makes the artificiality of the whole performance seem less grating. Even then, though, I’d rather read Shakespeare, in the comfort of my own home, sitting restfully in an armchair with a glass of wine by my side, enjoying the play at my own pace, looking up words in the glossary if I need to. 

It’s taken me quite some time to admit to myself that I hate the theatre. Many decades, in fact. But now I’ve come out and admitted it I feel a great relief. I don’t mind if people think I’m a philistine. I probably am. And I don’t mind if others persist in enjoying theatregoing. Why should I? If it floats your boat, fill your boots.  But for me personally, every evening I spend not going to the theatre is an evening well-spent. 



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