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Noises Off: Things That Make You Go....Boom!

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When you go to the theatre, you probably go for a number of reasons. But one of them is probably for escapism. But how many times have gone to see a production, settled into your seat, the curtain goes up and for 10 minutes you are immersed and then......several latecomers say "Excuse Me" really loudly and then each one repeats the word "Sorry" as everyone in your row has to get up, obscuring the view of those behind you. Let's take a funny look at theatregoers who act like they are at home.

1. The Knight Rider ring tone
The announcement is made, staff have asked for silence - yet still we hear the ringing phone. I was at King Lear last month and it took me right out of the performance as the guilty person tried to turn it off, yet managed to preview a variety of ring tones instead! The best tip is put the phone on silent two minutes before arriving. It's not difficult!

2. The "What's she been in?" debate
We've all done it, you spot an actor in a play/musical and you recognise them from TV/Film or another stage production. But how many of us save the debate for the interval? The times I have heard chats involving: "It was Midsomer Murders, he played the burglar" or "She was in that thing with Penelope Keith." Read the programme and all will become clear!

3. Let's open individually unwrapped sweets slowly
The trick when eating sweets is to wait for a really loud musical section and then eat them. No-one will then notice. But why wait until a quiet, poignant moment to unwrap several chocolate éclairs of Werther's Originals? One production of Romeo and Juliet saw the woman next to me hear me tut as she began to eat what sounded like roofing insulation - what did she do next - you may ask? She smiled and offered me one, wrapped of course!

4. Run for the car park ASAP!
If you see a great production, it is only fair that you clap the hard working souls who have just delivered good performances for your pleasure. Yet, each time I go to the theatre, I am almost knocked to the floor - usually by another critic who runs for the car park so fast - you would think they were dying. We all know you're in for a late night but surely you want to take in what you have just watched for a few seconds?

5. Openly Voicing disdain
I went to see a production in Bolton a few years ago and a woman got up and shouted: "This is appalling" - she then continued to moan to her husband and then they both left. The actors almost had to stop the production and no-one else agreed with these two. Anti BBC Salford types may be thinking - "This does not happen in London." But I saw Deathtrap recently and during a scene where the two leading men kiss - about 10 patrons went: "Euuuuurrrrgghhhhh" taking away any tension and leaving you thinking - Is this London in 2010? Leave if you don't like the play or read about it first.

6. Make it difficult for people to walk past you
You arrive on time and there are 10 keen theatregoers already ensconced in their seats, so you have to get them up to seat down. The first one stands up and you get through no problem. The second one has her foot propping up a box of Quality Street and her other foot is seemingly placed in the aisle to trip you up. The nightmare is not over as the rest of the row refuse to get up. You breathe in but having trod on four pairs of feet and kicked three man bags and a handbag, you are ready to flake out. One woman said to me as I tried to pass her to get the bar in the interval: "Do you have to? I've just put my slippers on!" It's not your row, and you're not in your front room - stand up!

I many sound like a grumpy old man but many of these incidents make me smile more than anything. There is one exception - when I hear a mobile going off, I turn from a smiley theatregoer to a "Find the phone and kill them" kinda guy!

What gets your goat in the theatre? Leave your comments at the foot of this blog.


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