Saturday, 28 May 2016

Left to her own device

I'd been waiting to see The Shakespeare Show for over a month. I mean, it's clearly my kind of entertainment: Shakespeare, David Tennant, Shakespeare, the cream of Britain's acting community with a couple of foreigners thrown in, Shakespeare, ballet, Shakespeare, musical theatre, Shakespeare, jazz, Shakespeare....

We arrived at the cinema early enough to snag our favourite seats in the middle of the back row. Soon, I was in my element. I even enjoyed the intense hip-hop performance about a quarter of the way into the two-hour show. That's when I started to become distracted by a bright light to my left.

A woman seated about four empty seats over appeared to be reading in a Kindle-like fashion on what was either a very large phone, or a very small tablet. She sat like a toad in white capris, with the device held out in front of her. Each time she shifted or tapped the screen, the glow would change and draw my eye back. I held up my ticket print-out to shield the left side of my face, and endeavoured to ignore her.

Every now and then, she'd set the device aside - presumably when something interested her in this pageant chockfull of different styles of delight. I let my hand fall, but shortly, the bright light was bobbing again.

As heaven is my witness, she was watching a video.

I debated inwardly. Should I take action? I wanted to throw something at her, or better still, hurl her damn device down to the bottom of the theatre, but that would cause more problems than it would solve, and a woman who comes to a special showing of a once-in-a-lifetime event and spends it reading and watching videos is probably not in the best of mental health herself.

What do you suppose would be her rationale?

I'm in the back row.

I don't have the sound on.

There's no one sitting immediately next to me.

I don't give a #*&@$%.

Most likely, she hadn't given this any thought at all.

About three quarters of the way through, she packed up and left. I sagged with relief, and settled to watch the show.

The two young men in front of us started texting.

Now, these guys were in some danger, because I was reaching the end of my rope and they were within an arm's reach. We were also watching Othello strangling Desdemona, and Lady Macbeth brandishing bloody daggers - fuel for my darkening fantasies.

These remained fantasies because I didn't want to embarrass my family nor disturb the other patrons who were attentively appreciating Judy Dench, Ian McKellan, Helen Mirren, and a host of others. Elder daughter, alas, picked up on my body language and thought it was directed at her. The Resident Fan Boy and younger daughter were having a lovely time, being on the right side of elder daughter.

The lights came up and as I descended the side stairs, I mentioned the lady with a device to two kindly women preparing to leave. They gazed at me in astonishment: "Why did she come?"

That is the question.

The following is a much-discussed (and much shared) portion of the evening, featuring several Hamlets bickering over the correct delivery of the opening lines of the most famous soliloquy in English theatre. The "Hamlets" are, in order of appearance: Paapa Essiedu (the most recent of the Royal Shakepeare Company's Hamlets, age 25), Tim Minchin (Australian songwriter, comedian, and a particular favourite of elder daughter), Benedict Cumberbatch (being mistaken for Eddie Redmayne here), Dame Harriet Walter (an accomplished stage actress who is also known for films such as 1996's Sense and Sensibility, and is a niece of the late Christopher Lee), David Tennant, Rory Kinnear (apart from his stage accomplishments, a son of Richard Lester favourite Roy Kinnear), Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, and some guy from the audience.

What isn't shown in the clip is the aftermath. Paapa Essiedu, after all this hilarity, still has to deliver the soliloquy and win back the audience. (He does.)

'To be or not to be_' featuring Benedict Cumberbatch & Prince Charles - Shakespeare Live! - BBC from Mai Martin on Vimeo.

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