A night at the theatre
A fortnight ago I took a group of six students to see a play called Twisted Tales at the Lyric Hammersmith. It’s based on Roald Dahl’s short stories for adults and it’s ‘twisted’ because the stories are surprising; even shocking or scary.
As we had time to kill between school finishing and the performance starting we decided to have a drink and something to eat. I much prefer the pubs down by the river but it seemed a bit far to walk, so I took the group to one of the pubs near the Lyric. We had a bit of typical pub food - not that healthy or exciting but it filled a gap! The Italian student was surprised at how early British people have dinner!
But when we arrived at the Lyric I kicked myself because I realised that the theatre bar was much more stylish and sophisticated than the pub I’d dragged everyone to! Nevermind; our excitement mounted as we walked past the bar up several curving flights of stairs to the upper circle.
The first thing we noticed as we took our seats was how high up they were! Although these seats in the gods are the best value, I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of heights. In fact, I actually felt slightly dizzy but I suppose it added to the excitement!
Now, going to the theatre in Britain is not an especially formal event. You definitely don’t have to dress up, although of course you can if you want to. The first time I went to the opera a few years ago I wore jeans and a T-shirt, as did my friend and most other people there.
However, it’s definitely not the done thing to be disruptive in any way. So I was quite put out by the fact that the couple next to me were eating a large bag of crisps throughout the performance! It’s common to have snacks at the theatre but the quieter the better; small tubs of ice-cream, say, or boiled sweets.
But that was nothing compared to a guy a few seats along. During one scene when a woman spends a long time trying to guess what’s in the large box her lover has given her, this bloke shouted ‘Deal or no deal?’ If you don’t get the reference, it’s from a popular daytime quiz show where contestants guess which box has money inside. The rude theatre-goer proceeded to heckle incoherently at key points in the drama – acceptable, even expected, at a stand-up comedy gig but not in a theatre. Maybe having such a welcoming theatre bar isn’t such a good idea after all!
The students said they understood about fifty per cent of the play, which I thought was pretty good considering that a lot of the language was either quite slangy or slightly out-of-date. They enjoyed the experience of going to the theatre 'in English'.
As for the Tales themselves, I’m reluctant to say too much in case you decide to see them for yourself. The special effects and scenery were quite low-tech but suitably spooky and dramatic, and the specially composed musical score was truly chilling at times. Like all of Dahl’s fiction, the five stories we saw acted out were a potent mix of black humour, horror and revenge. As the tagline says, ‘expect the unexpected’.
time to kill - (idiom) having spare time in between events
to fill a gap - (idiom) to eat a basic meal. Used jokingly
to kick yourself - (idiom) to be angry with yourself because you failed to do something easy or obvious
to drag (someone somewhere) - (v.) to take someone to a place they don't really want to go to
the upper circle - (adj + n.) the highest rows of seats in a theatre
in the gods - (idiom) sitting in the highest row of seats in a theatre
to dress up - (phr. v.) to wear formal or fancy clothes for a special occasion
the done thing - (idiom) socially acceptable behaviour
disruptive - (adj.) noisy and annoying
put out - (phr. v.) annoyed
bloke - (n.) an informal word for man
to heckle - (v.) when a member of the audience shouts rude comments at performers
incoherently - (adv.) very unclearly. Usually used about speech
spooky - (adj.) psychologically frightening
potent - (adj.) strong and possibly dangerous
tagline - (n.) the slogan used to advertise a film or play
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