Sunday, September 17, 2006

When Actors Attack

Saw a play today.  (I do that.  It's that whole theatre critic thing.)

The play was, "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" (or "Marat/Sade" to its friends).

So, I mean, it is supposed to take place in an insane asylum.  The theatre itself has a big open space where the actors act, and seats elevated a few feet up, on three sides around the stage.  To enhance the whole asylum thing, the seats have been fenced off from the actors.  I was sitting right in front, on the center aisle (they kindly set aside a nice seat for me) so there was a padded railing to my left and a chain link fence in front of me.  Neither was high enough to block my view or anything, but they definitely created a feeling like we were caged in.

At times, the actors in front of me, who were (remember) playing insane people, would stand on benches right on the other side of the chain link fence, and lean on the fence towards us.  This was meant to be somewhat surprising and intrusive, but, y'know, I'm a well-trained theatregoer.  I know that the fence in front of me isn't going to fall down and result in an actor in my lap.  They've practiced this, y'know.  In fact, today was closing night.  They've done this show for weeks and there have been no reports of injury.  So, I mean, I didn't even flinch.

And then a character went crazy in the center aisle, so was banging on the padded railing to my left.  It was around this point, as the railing kept bumping me in the arm, that I realized the railing only LOOKED padded -- it was just a wooden railing with some fabric wrapped around the top.  The actor pounded on it some more and my whole seat shook.  Hey, whatever.  It's all part of theatre.  I didn't even flinch.

At the end of the show, things get a little ... out of control ... in the asylum.  One inmate charges the fence directly in front of me.  I still don't flinch.

I remain not flinching when the fence accidentally breaks free from its attachments, bends forward, and whacks me in the knee.  It remains there at a jaunty angle.  The next actor coming in our direction has the presence of mind to rip the fence down completely.  Now every other person in the audience is nicely caged in, while me and the two people sitting next to me are in front of a torn-down fence, eyebrows raised.

After the show, as the actors exit out the center aisleway, the one who'd knocked the fence over (and a couple others) come by to apologize to the three of us.

Of course, while everyone else has to exit by walking to the nearest opening in their fence, me and my seat-mates can just jump right down since our barricade is no longer there.  We're told to make sure we don't step on the nails (which had come flying out when the fence came down).

Nice to see actors so committed to their performance.  Besides, it's just a scratch.


helmswondermom said...

Kudos for not flinching!  

hewasolddog299 said...

The management is terrified you are going to sue. Besides, it doesn't pay to piss off the critics...