It has been interesting to observe people’s reactions to the sudden closure of theatres (as well as pubs, restaurants and so on), and it has occurred to me that there are people for whom the theatre, as well as other forms of entertainment, is something that they depend on, at least in part, for their emotional and psychological wellbeing. In many ways, I understand it: there is, for me, nothing quite like the thrill of an excellent production, whether this comes in the form of a blockbuster musical in a large West End venue or a single-performer play in a room on the first floor of a pub.
Reading how distressed some people have become is in marked contrast to my own response, which has veered more towards frustration, and occasional anger, at certain organisations that are withholding refunds, or making it difficult for customers to obtain refunds. It is worth thanking those who have very swiftly acted to provide refunds, and following some very efficient and pleasant experiences I will name and shame (in a positive way), the Premier Inn hotel chain, The Crazy Coqs in London and the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester.
It may surprise some readers to discover I haven’t been depressed or at a loss as to what to do with an increased amount of spare time (something which has become infinite, or at least indefinite, since I am now ‘furloughed’ – there is, undoubtedly, some relief, that my day job employer thinks highly enough of me to keep me on the books, though as the Government points out, there is nothing to stop a company from making redundancies even whilst people are on furlough leave). Perhaps it is something to do with being a reviewer – more often than not, I attend the theatre with a view to casting a critical judgement on a production, which involves, at least for me, an element of being reserved, even cold, though (I hope) never uncivilised.
The few visitors I have received at home (prior to Covid-19, I hasten to clarify) will have noticed a vast amount of books, magazines and newspapers that have not yet been read, a position exacerbated by the sheer amount of theatrical productions I have ventured out to in recent years, both in London and further afield. I have no regrets about that, and I am reminded of one of the showtunes in A Chorus Line, ‘What I Did For Love’, in which the question is asked, ‘If today was the day you had to stop dancing, how would you feel?’ and the answer comes back, through song, ‘Kiss today goodbye, and point me toward tomorrow.’ And so, the mountains of papers are slowly but surely starting to recede, and the recycling bin is filling up quite nicely.
I had a nice ‘food box’ from Morrisons, the only sort of food delivery aside from takeaways from JustEat and Deliveroo I could get, delivered by DPD on Sunday, with their usual text messaging service to say it would be with me between 11:25am and 12:25pm (it actually arrived at 12:14pm, for those who really want to know), and will find ways of doing something with the variety of products I’ve been supplied with. If you told me even a week ago, I would be making carrot, cabbage and cucumber soup for myself I would have dismissed you for being beyond ridiculous.
But when my thoughts do turn to theatre, there have been some excellent experiences to look back on, particularly now that so many theatre organisations are making some archive footage of productions available. I had no idea what Zoom, Cameo or OnlyFans were before the lockdown – in short, they are amongst the relatively few businesses presumably turning a profit in the current situation – and I am sure there are other services and apps to be discovered in due course. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I am just going outside. To put the bins out.
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.