I once threw up watching Elaine Paige in The Drowsy Chaperone (and no, it wasn’t her performance or the show that did it, as I wrote about at the time). I did, at least, have a forewarning that it was about to happen, and managed to get out of the stalls in time and into the different kinds of stalls at the back of the auditorium.
On Wednesday, I was planning a trip to the National for the first night of The Magistrate, but had been feeling nauseous all day (a reaction, I’m told, to my current painkiller regime, following my hip replacement the week before). After retching on two separate occasions, I thought it might be fairer to the actors (and fellow audience members) if I stayed at home.
But not everyone does: just last week it was reported by the website Gothamist,
We didn’t think bad theater behavior could get much worse than having a cellphone go off in the middle of a play but clearly we weren’t thinking, or drinking, hard enough. Because last night a theatergoer vomited over the balcony and into the orchestra section during a performance of the new Paul Rudd play Grace. Still, the show must go on!
And it did. Not, of course, without those hit by the flying vomit making quick exits; another witness there reported,
The stench of the vomit was a little overwhelming, and many people were noticeably uncomfortable, and of course everyone who was vomited on left.
Though reports are conflicting, one at least suggests that the “vomiting suspect returned to his seat, presumably to make sure he caught the end of the play.”
As Paul Rudd told David Letterman subsequently, “”I’ll never complain about a cell phone ringing again.”
It happens surprisingly often, though. Earlier this year I was at the tiny Finborough in Earl’s Court when a woman threw up in the third row (of five), as I reported in my review at the time:
The two actors Steven Webb and Alex Felton are both delightful and moving, and were not fazed by a member of the audience throwing up in the middle of the performance (presumably not as a reaction to the material).
And director Paul Miller tells me that during the run of Simon Bent’s Sugar Sugar that he directed at the Bush, someone projectile vomited from the back row. The actors Sue Johnston and Jonny Phillips, he says,
were about to kiss just two minutes before the end of Act One. The sound was heard over the tannoy in the dressing room. Stage management swabbed down, the audience came back and they did the last few minutes to the interval. The guy had had a dodgy kebab. It was the smell that lingered. One of the few times when the pub downstairs was more pleasant than the theatre upstairs.
Some interesting theatrical coincidences:
- We suddenly seem to have a confluence of Broadway flops all running successfully on the London fringe simultaneously, and three of them within a mile or so of each other in Southwark. Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along (which ran for just 16 performances in 1981) is now previewing at the Menier, where it opens officially next Wednesday; Kander and Ebb’s Steel Pier (76 performances in 1997) ends tomorrow at the Union; Victor/Victoria (which ran for twenty months from 1995 to 1997, but I’m sure failed to recoup) runs at Southwark Playhouse’s Vault to December 15; and away from Southwark, Marvin Hamlisch’s Sweet Smell of Success (109 performances in 2002) is at the Arcola through December 22.)
- In New York, meanwhile, there is sure to be some confusion over the titles of three plays running simultaneously: at the Belasco, Lincoln Center Theatre are reviving Clifford Odets’s Golden Boy; at the Signature, there’s David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child; and at Manhattan Theatre Club, there’s the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Golden Age.
- Neil Genzlinger, reviewing a new Christmas show called Elf on Broadway, notes these coincidences:
The second act opens with a funny number called ‘Nobody Cares About Santa’ featuring a bunch of grousing department-store Clauses who have gathered for a bite to eat in a Chinese restaurant. And yes, for those keeping track, that makes two holiday-in-a-Chinese-restaurant scenes currently on Broadway, because a block over and a block up from Elf a musical version of the Jean Shepherd gem “A Christmas Story” is playing. A Christmas Story also has a live dog (two, actually), just like Annie, another Broadway show with a Christmas theme. There’s a message in those duplications perhaps. Holiday cheer is swell, but theatrically, at least, maybe it’s starting to be spread a bit thin?
4. Last week Nick Payne’s Constellations opened at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, with a running time of just 70 minutes. Meanwhile, on Broadway, David Mamet’s new play The Anarchist is now in previews – and also runs just 70 minutes. As Larry13 commented on Talkin Broadway’s chatboard,
I haven’t seen this play but what I find the most interesting – and disturbing – aspect is the 70 minute length. No question that if you’re bored with something you’re viewing, it’s a blessing to be able to get out sooner rather than later. But let’s say that this is the greatest play since Long Day’s Journey. Does that justify producers charging top B’way. prices for it? Of course they’ll do so IF they can get away with it. And if audiences allow them to. A few decades ago, the 90 minute production was rare, if not unheard of. Then it became a norm. Well, now there have been inroads on that. Will 80 or 70 or 60 minutes become common too?… Shorter and shorter attention spans may have something to do with audiences allowing this. But, clearly, as August: Osage County, revivals, most musicals, etc. prove, a work can be MUCH longer and still be popular.
More quotes of the week:
- Simon Jenkins, on the arts funding debate and how there’s possibly too much art to keep up with in London:
My problem is excess. I used to pride myself on being able to keep up with London’s culture. I would scrimp and save to see a new production at Covent Garden, a new ballet at Sadler’s Wells, a visiting orchestra on the South Bank. I would see any highly recommended film and grab the latest one-man show at the Tate or blockbuster at the Royal Academy. No Londoner can do this today…London needs an arts version of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, all its cultural offerings compacted and packaged into one Saturday afternoon and evening. I would pay good money for it. Sometimes I crave a provincial city with enough good entertainment for a couple of nights a week and no guilt at missing out on more.
2. Ian Shuttleworth on Hattie Morahan, currently appearing in The Dark Earth and the Light Sky at the Almeida, in his review for the Financial Times:
There are some actors who can reinvent themselves entirely for each new role, to the point of unrecognisability. For me Hattie Morahan belongs to this elite group; I have admired her work since her student days yet still would not know her if she were to stop me in the street.