Living in London you sometimes feel like a kid in a sweetshop: big-eyed and spoiled for choice. Especially when it comes to the theatre.
But often, when you actually get to hear about any decent live shows, it’s apparently so bloody obvious to just about everyone else that the only option is to bend over for some nerdy e-tout – in a virtual, financial sense, of course (personally, I’d at least like a sketchy geezer with a roll of twenties).
Fear not, I am here to help. Here are a few stonewall review predictions for the new production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, which ends its national tour at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in April, starring, almost solely, of course, two of the finest Royal Shakespeare Company stalwarts, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen: ‘A veritable tour de force!…awe inspiring!…unmissable!…theatre’s greatest joygasm!’ You get the idea.
Well, time upon time, the latest octogenarian RSC production is lauded as the answer to world poverty, and I get all excited (great reviews, star cast, loved-one’s birthday coming up, sounds ideal). And so begins the tortuous process, starting with 87 bastardised websites that all profess to be the official outlet (the show it turns out doesn’t actually have a website of its own but conducts business through a franchise operation based in Swansea with an answerphone message already so bombarded with calls about the production in question that they have recorded a special patronising message to inform you it’s all sold out); fake impetigo and go to the box office on Monday; only open on show days; idiot on Gumtree lives in Oldham. And so on.
The last time I went through this process was with King Lear. Bizarrely, I went through the whole rigmarole for the Stratford (on Avon) production and ended up like an animal in a trap, gnawing at itself in frustration, before I found it was coming to London and got in early.
I regret to say that, come show time, I had built the damn thing up so much that the feeding of the 5,000 would have been an anticlimax and I was unmoved; perhaps it was the woman next to me texting in her handbag that spoiled it for me. What can you do?
Well, just this: book now. Tickets are plentiful, they have a real office, there are seats in the theatre, you can go and talk to someone about it, or actually just do it on the internet, it exists. Forget Ivanov, don’t even try for Russell Brand, just plan ahead, go and wallow in its baffled conflict. But don’t you dare, whatever you do, sell your ticket on the internet.