Things I learned while at the theatre listening to pauses

Went to the local theatre last night to see a Pinter play.  To the local - theatre.  To see -  a Pinter play.  A Pinter play - at the local theatre.  Yes - I think - that's right, a Pinter play.  Theatre.  Local.  Pinter Play.  Last night.  Pin - pin - ter.

It was 'The Caretaker'.  There were a lot of conversations about shoes.  On and off.  And then there were pauses.  And general awkwardness.  And there was a lot of talk about someone making noises in the night.  On and off.  And then some more pauses.  And more awkwardness.  And there was a fair bit about how to do up a rundown flat.  On and off.  With lots more awkwardness.  And then it finished.  On a pause.

But it was good.  I quite like that kind of absurdist, nonsensical, what-the-hell-are-they-on-about? thing.  But you probably won't be surprised to hear that.

Anyway, while I was at the theatre, I learned some stuff which I thought I'd pass on.

1. When drying your hands after visiting the ladies toilets before the play begins, it is best not to put your theatre tickets on the shelf just under the hand dryer.  Theatre tickets, with a good wind behind them, can fly a long way and, although it is entertaining for all the other ladies to watch you lunging for them before they reach a wet basin, it is not good for your own self-esteem.  Or your dodgy knee.

2. On the other hand, if this is the first time the said ladies have seen Pinter, and if they are about to find they are not the biggest fans of Pause-for-a-Bit-Lit, your ticket-lunge may well be the best entertainment they get all evening.

3. Theatre seats placed very close together are only suitable for serious dieters or for people who like their thighs and upper arms to be welded to the thighs and upper arms of others so that parting at the interval takes some time, like separating Chelsea buns fresh from the oven.

4. On the other hand, being welded to another person helps you to stay upright when the Pinter pauses really set in and you are tempted to lean sideways for a short nap (or indeed a good half-hour's deep slumber) until the actor begins speaking again.

5. Drinking a large glass of wine in an interval of fifteen minutes may seriously limit your understanding of the second half of the play.

6. On the other hand, it will make you less inhibited about the thigh/upper arm welding process and you may even enjoy it.  It is probably worth hoping that the other person involved has also necked a large glass in the interval.  Two-way enjoyment of thigh/elbow-welding is better when between consenting adults.

7. It is best to prepare yourself at the end of a Pinter play for when the actors come out for their bow.  Their smiles and normal facial expressions may well come as a big shock.

8. On the other hand, knowing that the person welded to your limbs is also experiencing this moment of shock may well give you a couple of seconds in which to take advantage of their distracted state. You can then unweld yourself and run like the clappers before the weirdo you've been welded to turns and says, 'I hope you've enjoyed sharing my skin cells, hot breath and dandruff.  Now we've gone nearly all the way, how about dinner and then back to my place?'


  1. Well, we went this evening to see Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce", which was probably more fun.

    Juliet Mills was in it and looked like a very pretty and well-preserved 80-year-old, which came as a shock since according to Google she's only 8 years older than me. Which makes her 68, right enough, rather than 28, but still. Note to self: must avoid getting too slim. Makes you wrinkly. (Think I might manage this all right. What a relief.)

  2. Love that Chelsea buns description.... gold. A x

  3. I have never seen a Pinter play. I'm not sure I would enjoy the pauses. We once had a pastor at our church that inserted frequent pauses into his sermons. It made my eyes glaze over. The thigh-rubbing sounds like it has potential, though.

  4. I've never seen a Pinter play. But, years ago, when I thought I might become the next big thing in play-writing circles, I bought books of Pinter's plays. After reading the scripts, I discovered one important thing. I am an Alan Ayckbourn fan.

  5. A play? What's that then? Is it anything like music hall? Or something with Tommy Steele in?

  6. Isabelle - I wholeheartedly agree. Thin people go wrinkly far more quickly. And will have to spend more on Botox. It makes sense to stay ... er ... more rounded.

    Ann - It's my currant joke. Ha ha.

    Lesley - believe me. Thigh-rubbing of that type is not at all pleasant.

    Martin - you and a lot of others, no doubt! I think you have to see Pinter (and Beckett) done on the stage. On the page ... not so hot.

    Steve - get along to the Royal Spa Centre and get yourself some theatre tickets, you pagan.

  7. But I saw Hinge & Brackett last year!

  8. Steve - I'm not at all interested in your DIY experiences. Get yourself to the theatre.

  9. As a skinny wrinkly I am not troubled, at the theaytah, with thigh welding or Chelsea bun experiences. Isn't there always a reason to be thankful?

    Travelling players occasionally visit us here in the sticks. The urn gets put on for tea in the interval and gradually the whole place fills with steam (who needs dry ice?) If we are lucky, there might be custard creams.

  10. Ah, Harold Pinter - the bafflemeister.

    Anna May x

  11. Goodness, I saw Hinge and Bracket a few years ago. Never again. Smutty and silly and smug - not a good combination. Grue.

  12. Or is it Brackett? Well, who cares?

  13. I saw the play too, probably the same company. A touring company.
    Actually, the production I saw was very good, excellent in fact, performed by pros, not off the telly, but good actors and the audience was most appreciative. It was a great shame that the theatre was half empty.
    But then to judge from the comments here . . . . .
    philistines, the lot of ya.

  14. Christine - I really WISH people wouldn't say the words 'custard cream' when I should have finished eating for the day ...

    Anna May - I love that word 'bafflemeister'. I'm going to start using it.

    Isabelle - did you say 'grue'? This is a new one on me. But I like it.

    Friko - But then again I think it's kind of apposite that the theatre is half-empty for a Pinter play. You know, gaps and all that. And, yes, it was very well acted.

  15. Friko - just looked it up - done by the London Classic Theatre Company. Same one?

  16. Yes, grue, a fine Scottishism which has remained here while (I assume) England has rejected it but just kept "gruesome". Anyway, it's a verb meaning shudder with horror/terror. In this case, not really terror.

    "It gars me to grue" is a relatively common Scottish saying for "It makes me shudder/It turns my stomach".

    Gosh, this is a bit solemn and educational for a conversation between two teachers, isn't it? I would be witty in conclusion except that I must go and clear my aunt's flat, alas... The chap is hovering meaningfully.

  17. Isabelle - solemn and educational mebbe, but damned fascinating. Love that kind of thing. I am going to grue as often as I can now.

  18. 'like separating Chelsea buns fresh from the oven.'

    Heehee. The theatre likes everyone to be close and friendly. Pinter plays sound rather a challenge. The last time an evening challenged me was an impromptu arm-wrestling championship, The Marquis pub, 2002.

  19. Jayne - I'm not surprised, after that, that you gave up on challenging evenings.


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