Sunday, 8 December 2013
On Friday night, my daughter roped the family into ‘supporting’ the theatre where she studies Performing Arts. The Christmas show was about to kick off.
Eleanor wasn’t in the show, so I will confess that none of us were chomping at the bit to sit and watch a bit of am-dram. However, she gave a rousing speech about the theatre struggling for funds and that we should all do our bit for the community. In other words she bullied us. So like all good victims, we drooped off to watch the Christmas show.
For the purposes of this blog, both her theatre and the show shall remain nameless!
Six of us went. And at ten pounds a ticket you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to work out that the sum of sixty quid was spent. That’s quite a lot of money, especially at this time of year.
My mother is disabled. As we filed into the dark auditorium, I was unimpressed at the lack of disabled seating. I looked at my daughter, aghast.
‘Where are we sitting?’ I asked.
‘Er,’ she paused to study the tickets, ‘Row J. That’s–’
‘Right at the top! Didn’t you tell them your grandmother was disabled?’
‘Yes, but they said there was nothing they could do about it.’
‘Oh for heaven’s sake,’ I chuntered. ‘What sort of a theatre is this?’
As my mother gazed up the flight of stairs before her, she looked like a woman about to climb Everest.
‘Don’t worry,’ Father Bryant assured Mother Bryant, ‘we will help you.’
With that he took my mother’s left hand while I held her right. And off we set. One step. Two step. But as we went up the third step, my mother stumbled in the dimly lit auditorium. She knocked into my father who lost his balance, toppled sideways and ended up nose-diving into somebody’s lap. Mother Bryant tottered precariously but I grabbed hold of her fleecy top to save her. Regrettably it wasn’t zipped up and I was left holding a fluffy garment while my mother landed softly on my father. Who was still nose down in a member of the audience’s crotch. Not a good start.
By the time we’d re-assembled and limped to our seats, the show had kicked off. Eleanor was sitting there paying attention to every detail. She had to review the performance as part of her coursework.
‘I hope you’re going to complain about your grandparents falling over,’ I hissed.
‘I can’t. The director will get the hump.’
‘Oh will he now?’ my voice rose an octave.
‘Shh!’ said a person in front of me.
‘Sorry,’ I whispered, ‘but we had a bit of an accident and–’
‘I’m only explain–’
‘Mum!’ Eleanor implored. ‘I have to review this. Can I watch it, please?’
‘Yes, of course, I’m not stopping you from watching it, all I’m saying–’
So I shushed. And thought dark thoughts. Like the theatre director one day needing a Stannah stair lift and that the person in front of me wouldn’t get an ice-cream in the interval. Because I’d bought it all. Ha!
Fifteen minutes later I was sitting in my seat completely bewildered. I glanced at my parents. Their expressions were glazed. I nudged Eleanor.
‘What’s going on?’
‘What do you mean, what’s going on?’
‘Exactly that! What’s going on? What the hell are the Three Bears doing in Fagin’s School? And how does a bunch of pickpockets stack up with Christmas elves?’
‘It’s a spoof,’ Eleanor whispered.
‘It’s rubbish,’ I hissed.
‘Shh!’ said the person in front.
I narrowed my eyes and adopted a menacing tone. ‘Ice-cream.’
The person visibly jumped and looked away.
The show went on. And on, and on. I closed my eyes and awoke half an hour later to the only bit of the show that was actually funny. The two main characters had got stuck in their flying harnesses and were spinning helplessly in the air while the Three Bears signalled frantically to the wings for somebody to come and help. Next year I won’t be going. Sorry. You can boo and hiss all you like, but give me a decent British panto next time. Which reminds me.
Cinderella was very upset. ‘The chemist has lost my photographs,’ she cried to her fairy godmother. ‘Ah, there, don’t cry Cinders,’ said the fairy godmother, ‘some day your prints will come…’