Much of the most interesting theatre criticism, and the most informative for us, is found away from the mainstream press on the burgeoning theatre blogs.
Out there on the interweb, numerous passionate punters chart their extensive theatregoing with wide-ranging reviews of their whole experience – from the lighting desing to the loos – generally in much more detail than the critics can squeeze into their word counts.
And having opened our own theatre for The Roundabout Season, it was amongst the blogs that we learnt the most about audience experience. We can get so close to our own work, and in this case to our auditorium, that it proves invaluable to read other people’s first impressions.
“The ‘flat-pack’ auditorium is erected in the middle of the hauntingly preserved assembly hall, and the combination of carousel-esque wallpaper and design, exposed bulbs and the imposing lighting rig gives the distinct impression of entering a circus,” writes Rebecca Hazel Roughan in The Oxford Student Online. “The actors serve as clowns, lions and ringmasters and have the ability to heal and break our hearts in a moment.”
Gareth James on Gareth’s Culture and Travel blog writes: “It’s a bigger version of the Royal Court’s set for Cock, like somewhere you’d have held a cock-fight. It reminds me of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre – like a spaceship has landed inside an old building.”
There was a lot of chat about buttons…
“It’s unallocated seating,” explains Rev Stan, “But you choose a coloured button before you go in and are directed to a portion of the auditorium that matches your colour. (Tip: Choose yellow if you want to be closest to the exit/loos). A nifty way of getting the audience to spread out but as no one was collecting buttons I’m wondering how long it will be before they run out.”
Don’t worry Rev, we had loads.
“Not content with merely allocating seats, your button is the key to your position – it’s all very alternative. This is Shoreditch after all,” notes Oxford Student Rebecca, dispatched from the dreaming spires to EC1.
“Judging by the spread of audience members, given that choice of colours, most people will go for blue, and pink is very unpopular,” observes Nick on Partially Obstructed View, before revealing we’d scared his friend: “Vanessa, it turns out, is afraid of buttons (‘What the hell is that?’ she thundered at the three bowls of different-coloured buttons on the box office desk.)”
And if it wasn’t the buttons causing consternation, it was the sex:
“Positively the most sexual scene I’ve ever seen on a theater,” writes Webcowgirl on Life In The Cheap Seats of the virginal fumble in ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG. “I’m sure the actors both had their underpants on but it was rather a LOT like watching a live sex show and if you were planning on taking a member of the family I would NOT advise it.”
So don’t bring your Granny, is the tip, though she does go on to say: “Otherwise: actually really hot,” so perhaps liberal minded family members might get a kick out of it.
There were thousands of words written about the plays. Insightful, interesting and unashamedly subjective descriptions of people’s responses to the plays, which is exactly what we want to hear.
“My favourite piece of the day, especially the second act,” writes ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG fan Poly Gianniba on The Other Bridge Project. “Payne’s writing probes difficult places of loneliness and heartbreak, and the actors, especially Andrew Sheridan (who has the rare ability of drawing you in so effectively and with so little fanfare that takes you by surprise) make the play justice.”
Thanks so much to everyone who came, and saw, and blogged. We’ve loved reading your reviews, and we’ve learnt from hearing about your experiences.
We’ll leave the last word to Webcowgirl, writing about LUNGS:
“And at the end, it seemed, the world blew out of the auditorium, the light from the stage expanding out the cupola above me, all of the little sadnesses and disappointments that make up our tiny lives becoming universal, utterly transcending the theater in which we sat on a rainy Sunday night in October in a run down corner of an often unfriendly town. And I walked out into the night and thought about my own sadnesses, and fiddled with my little yellow button. And it was good.”