'Selfish latecomers are ruining our nights at the theatre'
Latecomers to shows at QPAC and other venues are ruining the experience for many theatregoers now that we can all go back the theatre. It's incumbent on people attending shows to make it to the theatre on time for the show and unless you've had a medical emergency or have experienced a natural disaster, if the show starts at 7.30pm, you should be sitting in your seat by then.
But post-COVID many people are behaving like they are still in there own lounge rooms and just wandering in like Brown's Cows (no relation) after the advertised show time. It's exasperating. The only person who really ever has an excuse for running late is the White Rabbit in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and that's actually part of the show so it's okay. (The rabbit is late for a very important date you will recall)
The worst example recently was for the first night of the show Christmas Actually at La Boite which has form when it comes to starting shows late. But ten minutes after Christmas Actually was supposed to start people were still sauntering in oblivious to their own ignorance, drinks in hand, chatting with their friends while we all waited for them to be seated. Naomi Price and her cast had to wait too and the show started 15 minutes late which is close to unforgivable.
I sat there looking at my watch with steam coming out of my ears. The show was, by the way, fabulous, which was some consolation. Mind you people kept getting up and going out to get drinks and to pee throughout it which was outrageous really. Pee before you go in people! And can't you last an hour without grog? If that's the case you may have a problem.
Another case in point was the opening night of Queensland Ballet's recent triumph, the hastily prepared The Best of The Nutcracker which was presented in the Concert Hall at QPAC. The thing I love about QPAC is that it's so professional. La Boite is a bit of a party atmosphere and is rather lax on getting people into the Roundhouse Theatre on time (a cattle prod would help) but QPAC is an ultra professional venue although even the folks at QPAC are fighting an uphill battle when people simply refuse to take their seats by the allocated showtime.
At The Best of The Nutcracker we were in our seats a good ten minutes before the show began and that is recommended in these post COVID times with check-ins and what have you.
And QPAC clearly rings warning bells five minutes prior to each performance to advise that the doors will close in fine minutes so you have no excuse. But some people must have another drink or must got to the loo at the last minute even though they have been standing in the foyer for half an hour.
At The Best of The Nutcracker people were still sauntering in five minutes after the performance was supposed to begin delaying artistic director Li Cunxin's opening address and annoying punctual patrons like me. I saw one women standing up by her seat talking on her mobile phone as she show was beginning and I said, probably too loud, (my wife shushed me) : "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
People just seemed to be taking their own sweet time which is, I know, frustrating for the venue and for the cast. QPAC has informed me that they do send reminder emails to patrons making starting times clear. Some shows will not admit latecomers and some admit them when there's a break or an appropriate moment but you don't want to be one of those people.
Particularly not at a Dame Edna show. She has a terrific way of dealing with latecomers, humiliating them and inquiring as to where they have been in a way that only the great Dame could get away with. I wish she's been on hand recently to help shame those folks who made us all wait.
At the moment at QPAC theatre doors are open 30 to 45 minutes before shows to allow patrons to enter the theatre and be seated well ahead of time. Mingling in the foyer is less encouraged in the pandemic era.
Can a show start late? That is dictated by the production but, for the good of all, shows should start on time and finish on time so that we can all plan our lives accordingly.
And you all have watches or phones that tell the time right? So you really have no excuse.
Originally published as Latecomers are ruining our nights at the theatre