Macbeth - the Last Show Ever!
Or . "I'm not a number - I'm a Bean Fan!"
I wasn't originally planning to go to this, having been to see it on what was going to be the last night, as well as 4 other occasions. However, having discovered that my friend Elinor was going to both the matinee & evening shows (as she'd done throughout the run), I thought I'd "give it a go". When I first decided this, it was still 2 weeks to payday, so I had to wait till the following week before commencing my quest:
Monday: phone Albery Box Office - yes they have tickets - restricted view or standing -YIPPEE!!! ..but ..
No, they can't do a "plastic" booking over the phone - box office sales "in person" only - YA BOO!!!! Now I work 7 days a week in the boarding school in Dover where I teach, so "popping" down to get a ticket was simply NOT an option. In fact, my next "day" off (even though I still teach all morning) wasn't until March 1st - the day of the performance - so this was not what I wanted to hear at all.
Anyway, I phoned my pal & told her the bad news & she had a brainwave - she was going to the Wednesday matinee, so she'd pick up the ticket for me. HURRAY!
Thursday morning - phone call from Elinor - all the tickets were sold out, so I didn't have one after all - OH WELL - time to try for a "return" I phone up, only to be told that they had had some yesterday but they've all gone now & that I could have ordered one & paid for it by phone (sic)!. At this stage I explain the events of the previous few days & am informed that I should have been able to get a ticket on the day I originally phoned as they could have done a telephone booking then - someone obviously had given me the wrong message. ARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!
For the next 10 days I phone the Albery every day & towards the end of the week, I even try phoning several times a day - NO LUCK. Eventually, I ask the operator if it's worth coming on the off chance: she doesn't hold out much hope - "it's a very good show, you see & it's very popular " she tells me - as if I didn't already know that.
Saturday March 1st., 2003.
It's the big day & I've arranged to meet Elinor after the matinee & go for a meal before she (lucky thing) goes back to watch the LAST show of this run. As before, I dash straight off to the station from school & just as before, the trains are running late. Plus ca change and all that! Arrive at Theatre at 4.45pm & nervously head for the box office .
I'm not at all surprised to discover a queue of people waiting for tickets and get myself a queue number "ticket" (11). Being a fan of the TV series "The Prisoner", the phrase "I am not a number - I'm a Bean fan " springs to mind & this time the pun IS intended. Fortunately, my "number" means I can still go to tea with Elinor without losing my place in the queue, so I pop outside for a quick cigarette & wait for her to emerge.
As I'm waiting, a lady with camcorder approaches & asks if I'd mind being interviewed for a spoof documentary she's making. I agree & spend the next 10 minutes amusing her with news about the SAS & what a whacky, but harmless bunch we all are. She tells me Sean's been voted "kisser of the Millennium" & asks if I think he's a good snog or not. Not ever having had the pleasure (& having more chance of winning the Lottery!), I tell her to arrange for me to try it out & then I'll let her know .
Before I realize it, the doors are opened & the afternoon throng emerges into the evening light. I find Elinor in the crush & head off next door for afternoon tea, only to find that the queues there are almost as long as those at the theatre. Luckily for me, Elinor's done this before & knows another decent eatery round the corner, so we end up stuffing ourselves at Garfunkels instead - I can personally recommend their omelettes, which come with the biggest jacket potatoes you've ever seen.
18.45hrs. Time to return to the Albery - number 11 tightly grasped in hand. Elinor's in B12, as usual, so I say my goodbyes to her as I'm sure there's no way I'll get a seat. Instead, I head for the returns queue & cross every part of my body that it's feasible to do .
After a few minutes, number 1 gets called up & manages to get a ticket .. I'm getting nervous ..
19.10hrs. Curtain up in 20 minutes &
the place is heaving. I'm starting to resign myself to the fact
that I'll be on the train back to Dover in a half hour's time.
"Number 4 .." - no response, so they call again.
"Number 6 ." - same thing happens.
"Number 10 " (Hang on a minute, I might get lucky here )
"Number 11 " "YES!!!!!! I'm here!"
I've got hold of ticket L15 which is right smack bang in the middle of the auditorium & has a superb view of the whole stage - much better than winning the Lottery. So off I saunter, pausing only to wave to Elinor to let her know I've got in. Whilst waiting for the start, I get talking to my new neighbours, all of whom are seeing this production for the first (& only) time. I've some photos in my bag of the SAS visit (to the January 18th. performance), which I'd shown to Elinor over tea, so these are quickly passed round & "No, they're not for sale, sorry." Next thing I know, an Australian lady behind me is asking to see the shots & we start chatting. [You know, I've met some super people during my visits to this play & I think we could even set up a "We saw the Bean & Bond Macbeth" Club, now it's all over - it would be nice to keep in touch as they were really nice folks.]
It's super to see the first half of the play from a perfect viewpoint as you can see all the action whilst being close enough to make out the actors' features. Everyone is giving it 110% & it's quite exhilarating to be where I am, the audience are lapping it up. Before too long though, the new King & Queen have been crowned & it's interval time. Elinor's waiting down the front for a chat, but I must pop to the loo, so I'll tell her I'll be down in a minute. She beckons me over & asks for my bag - it turns out there's an empty seat next to her & she's grabbed it for me - well I can't say "no" can I? What would you do under those circumstances?
Sorry as I am to say "tata" to my new pals in row L, I can't leave Elinor all alone, can I, so I make my way down to B13 so she's got a bit of company ..
Curtain up on the second half & I'm glad I'm not wearing my Liverpool t-shirt as a certain Blades fan would have had me kicked out of the auditorium if he'd seen me in front of him. I've got my Sharpe Appreciation Society sweatshirt on, so I should be safe. The atmosphere had been building all night - one person gets so excited, we can hear them in the back joining in - at least, I think that's what it is, but they quieten down after a few minutes - perhaps one of the ushers has had "a word" in their ear. Credit to the cast - they carry on regardless and the intensity of their performances even increases (if that's possible) in response to the appreciative electric atmosphere. It's absolutely AWESOME! (despite the showers of spittle), but before we even realize it, that darned Macduff's lopped Macbeth's head off & they're crowning the other bugger. It's all over bar the cheering & boy, do we cheer!!!!!
Out comes the disposable camera for the curtain calls - just a few shots for posterity & to show the kids back at school (not to mention the teachers). I rattle a few off, them join in the applause. My hands hurt from clapping & my voice is quite hoarse. Just as well I can't whistle. A nice touch is when the cast all turn to the front & applause us - sweet - we all appreciate that & it starts us cheering even more.
I'm not sure if anyone's trying for autographs - I'm not - & I don't think anyone will get them as I'm sure the cast will be having a MEGA party somewhere which will last well into the wee small hours & beyond. No, I'm off to catch the train home because I'm working at 8am and won't get home before 1am even if I rush. I think the cast all deserve to have a really big send off and say their goodbyes to each other after all the hard work they've put in. It's sad to think that some of them will (probably) be signing - on first thing on Monday morning. So off you go to "party on" folks - I hope you'll all be "working" again soon.
As for me, I wend my way homewards, exhilarated and sad at the same time. No more Macbeth for me - what will I do on my day off next month & how on Earth will I occupy the Easter school holidays?
Oh well, I'll try the "Old Vic"
next time - the "Tempest" beckons
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