Worst Behavior

[First of all, I know. It’s been a while. Almost a year to be exact. But I’m back. All is well.]

I went to see a 5 hour play last night. Bold move, I know. But I’m not here to tell you my thoughts on the production, but rather my thoughts on the audience. I suppose the length of the show increased the probability of interruptions throughout, and it had it’s quiet moments, which likely illuminated these disruptions. But these people were unbelievably, shamelessly loud.

There were so many things. First came the usual coughs and sneezes. Obviously, it’s been 2 degrees for the past few weeks, so everyone has pneumonia. But pneumonia or no, you spend good money on a ticket you’re gonna see the show, especially when it stars Albert Goldman/Pepper. So screw it. Suck down a garlic clove (also appreciated by your fellow audience members), and call a car. This is your “outing” for February, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to let a little whooping cough get you down.

In fact, the man sitting directly behind me (who may or may not have been the old man from Up) spent a good portion of the first act suppressing a cough in the most distracting way. He was trying so hard not to make noise (which I appreciated) that I thought he either die or vomit on my head. Things weren’t looking good. (However, this man did redeem himself during intermission. He made a call on his flip phone. “Yes, it’s very good,” he said. “Very good. The performances are excellent.” I wanted to pick him up and give him a kiss on the top of his head.)

About halfway through Act I, Siri arrived in the mezzanine. She was like, “Your destination is on the left.” What? The play had started about an hour ago. Was Siri drunk? If the person had moved at all, it was to go to the restroom. And if the person used Siri to get to and from the restroom, then there are larger issues at hand.

We were a few minutes into Act III when the Long Island woman a row behind me had a revelation. “This is an excellent play.” Full voice, just in the middle of the show. I had to turn and give her my “Boo, pull yourself together” look. There were a couple of other instances of full voice chatter further away throughout the show. I don’t know what the deal is with that (and it happens A LOT in movies), but it needs to stop.

An appreciated moment of audience noise came during this act as well, when the only black character in the show had a “drop the mic” moment. He was excellent throughout the show, but he really nailed it in this scene. As one of probably six black people in the house, I had what I thought was a particularly visceral reaction to the moment. And while I wanted to shout “yaaaaaaassssss,” and start voguing in the aisles, and fall into a death drop, I restrained myself. I was glad to hear, though, that the entire audience appreciated the moment. There were lots of claps and “wooos,” so that was fun.

In Act IV Siri came back. Everyone was like, “We get it,” so she shut up. People got cough-y again, and started unwrapping Werther’s. Seven people kicked stainless steel water bottles. Maybe a baby was born. I don’t know. Was there an arm wrestling match in the balcony? Hard to say. French lesson in the partial view seats? Sounds about right.

Finally, it was over, and everyone clapped and got all, “We did it! We were so quiet!” And I was like, “What? You guys were so loud! The whole time!” And they didn’t hear me, because they were obviously extremely loud, and they were shouting, “Bravo!” And I was going, “did you even see the play?” And then they were like, “Taxi!”

I get that there are only so many things you can control while sitting in a tiny theater seat. But as a people I think we should make the following efforts while in the theater:

1. Turn off your phone. I know it’s hard, but Siri is obviously going through something, and quite honestly, she can’t be trusted. It’s the only way.

2. If you are sick, like really sick, don’t come to the theater. I know it’s hard, but you are a) going to be miserable the whole time b) disturb everyone around you and c) get everyone sick, which is the ultimate offense.

3. If you’ve got a little tickle in your throat, bring paper-wrapped lozenges, not plastic-wrapped. It reduces the noise pollution drastically, and if it keeps you from hacking everywhere, that’s good too.

4. Keep your noisy bottle in your bag. You will definitely kick it if it’s not in your bag, and it will definitely roll down many, many rows.

5. Shut your damn mouth.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the theater.

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