SAS Trip To "Macbeth".
[Note: The SAS is the Sharpe Appreciation Society. This review appeared originally
in the SAS Bulletin and is reprinted with their permission]
12.25 hrs Saturday 18th January, 2003.
Year 8 think it must be Christmas all
over again as their teacher lets them out of lessons a whole 10
minutes early. Is "Miss" feeling unwell, or has she
finally had enough & handed in her notice? The truth is, it's
far more serious than that - "Miss" has a train to
catch because she's off to London to see the Queen (sorry - Sean
Bean!) with the S.A.S. (well, some of the female members, at least).
Due to the now customary delays involved in British train travel, I didn't get to London in time for the Apsley House visit - in fact I only arrived at the hotel about half an hour before our rendezvous for dinner. This resulted in the quickest shower; unpack; change and "slap a bit of war paint on" that I've experienced in years - bearing in mind that I normally only wear make-up at Christmas and for parents meetings at school! I had also to meet up with my room-mate for the weekend and , as we'd never seen each other before, this turned into something reminiscent of a spy thriller - "meet in the foyer" - "I'm wearing a pink jumper" - if you get the picture.
Anyway, before too long, Cathy & I had donned our glad rags & found Chris, Marilyn & the gang all set to go to Bertorellis for dinner. This involved travel on the Underground - a first for some - so Chris & Marilyn soon had had us organised such that we resembled a school party as we set off from the hotel complex. (I found it a great relief not to be in charge, for a change.) We reached the restaurant without too much trouble & met up with more members of our party once there. The meal had been pre-booked, but I admit I couldn't remember what I'd ordered, due to the adrenaline rush & the excitement of what was to come..... Fortunately we all ended up with the right meals and jolly scrummy it was too! I even wondered if Chris had told them "who" we were when she booked, because my chicken didn't have any pasta with it - it was served on a bed of (Sean?) beans.... For dessert, I admitted to being a tiramisu virgin, but not for long as by the end of the meal, not only had I fallen for this blatant bit of indulgence, but I'd also got the recipe to try it out at home. The night was shaping up wonderfully and it was still barely half past six....
Just as we were all enjoying our feast, a late & unexpected extra guest arrived & asked if we could make a bit of room for him - it was our stalwart supporter Jason Salkey who had popped down to see friends old & new whilst we were down "his" way. He stopped & chatted to everyone in turn & it was lovely to see him, even if he couldn't make it to the theatre with us. At this stage I popped out of the restaurant for a quick cigarette and noticed a predatory traffic warden approaching a silver car which had been parked outside. I said I had no idea whose car it was & then went back inside to have my coffee. Just as I sat down, I heard Jason telling someone that he couldn't stay long as he'd left his car outside on double yellow lines!!! (If only I'd known...) I had to tell Jason that he was about to get a ticket & he, of course, dashed off straight away. By this time the ticket had been issued and Jason very generously agreed to stay a few more minutes in order for photos to be taken etc.. I felt terrible at this stage - first time I've met the bloke & I have to tell him he's got a parking ticket. Oh well....
It was now time for us to make our way from Bertorellis to the Albery Theatre where the evening performance was due to start in half an hour. By this time our numbers had swelled (as well as our bellies,) so we must have been quite a sight as we snaked our way through the West End throngs. Unfortunately, some of us got left behind at a road junction - the lights changed so that we couldn't cross - & by the time we got to the other side, we had no idea which of the side alleys the rest of the group had gone down. Time to use our initiative! The first few people I asked were either foreign or fellow visitors to London & couldn't help, but eventually I got the correct directions & we found our way with 10 minutes to go before curtain up.
The atmosphere in the auditorium was electric as we eagerly anticipated the appearance of one of our Heroes - in the FLESH! I'm sure we must have occupied all of the front 4 rows & I also recognised a few familiar faces elsewhere in the theatre. I was busy explaining to Cathy about the sudden explosive start to the play, when - BANG! - the thunder & lightning was upon us & we were away (once we'd scraped a few people of a "nervous" disposition off the ceiling.) .....
The performance was excellent - as always - even if we were sprayed on occasion when the actors' enthusiastic delivery of their lines caused a rain of spittle on those of us at the very front. In fact, one lady near to me had a telescopic umbrella with her and during the interval, she jokingly threatened to put it up to protect herself. Well, I may not have actually met Sean, or Samantha etc, but I've had their DNA all over me! I managed to get a few shots of the curtain calls for my collection, but was disappointed in a way, because the resulting camera angles (in the front row) meant I got super views up the cast's noses - TIP: row E seems to be about the best for photography if you want decent shots.
One of the nice things that I've enjoyed about following this production, is seeing how it has developed and changed over its 5 month run. All of the actors' performances have improved over time - even the ones that were great to start off with. Sometimes the interpretation has been that Macbeth was the weaker spouse - egged on by a strong & ambitious wife; at other times he's been angry once he's been talked into it & the "deed" has been done; yet another interpretation was his sadness - almost remorse at killing his friend & King. Lady Macbeth has also had to react in different ways to complement Sean's differing moods - I am sure that this has helped to keep their performances fresh and envigourating each time I've attended. I am hoping to go to the last night on March 1st. but there's not much chance of a ticket, unless I pay "tout" prices & I'd need a good lottery win to be able to do that. Many people with empathise when I say I'm going to suffer withdrawal symptoms once it closes for good.
Now, I'm not sure how far my fellow scientists have progressed with their development of pheromone / hormone detectors, but if they'd had any in the theatre that night, the readings would have been off the scale! I was chatting to a lady in the queue for the loo during the interval & she asked if we were the Sean Bean Fan Club. I told her we were SAS & her response was that we acted more like teenagers than her children did, to which I replied that I simply appreciated a good thing when I saw it! N.B. We did all behave ourselves - no underwear made an appearance & I even turned down my daughter's offer of a tin of squirty cream for the "3 sisters & Sean" scene, although in hindsight I think a very cold soda syphon would have been more appropiate.
Chris had told us that she'd informed the cast (via Sean's agent, I think,) that we were going to be there that night, so we all proceeded to play "groupies" & waited patiently in the hope that we might be honoured by a (brief) meeting with "our" Mr. Bean. Sadly, this was not to be, so we eventually made our way homewards or to our hotel accomodation for the night. Now, I know some of you may be critical of Sean's non-appearance - "if it wasn't for us fans he wouldn't be where he is now", etc. etc., but I beg to differ. For one thing, we went to see the play & that's what we did. Also, having waited unsuccessfully (with daughter) for two hours on a previous occasion outside the Albery, I can tell you that there are some very dubious characters who hang around that area late at night - it was quite intimidating. I'm sure nothing untoward would have happened, but it's a bit of as risk, all the same. Also, there must have been over 100 people waiting for autographs and it simply wouldn't be fair for Sean to write some, but not all, would it, and how long would it take to do that? Let's face it, the poor lad's done 2 shows that day as well as all the others during the week - he's probably b*ggered! In any event, I didn't begrudge him the chance to catch "last orders" in the pub as well as to keep up to date with the footie results. That's my view, anyway.
About a dozen of us adjourned to the bar of the Royal National Hotel, where we spent the next few hours reviewing the night's entertainment & swapping tales of other SAS events etc.. Unfortunately the bar closed at 1am, so it turned out to be an early (sic) night, for once.
To sum up the weekend, this is how I explained it to my old tabby, who missed me whilst I was away gallivanting:
Pussycat, pussycat, where have I been?
I've been up to London, to oggle Sean Bean -
The SAS drooled as they watched every scene
Which featured our hero - all moody & mean.
Finally I'd like to thank Chris & Marilyn for all their hard work in organising the trip without manging to lose anyone, as well as my Head Master for letting me go (Dukie in-joke, which I'll explain to anyone who wants to know).
Hope to meet up with all again soon.
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