Claire’s tips to Theatre Etiquette

Our contributor Claire Roderick gives her 5 rules to West End theatre etiquette
I’ve been trying to write a review of Wicked. Should be easy – after first number (dear lord it’s like nails on a blackboard) it’s all fantastic magical blah blah blah…
But all I can think about are the wonderful audience members who made the experience so memorable.
Patti Lupone has just announced her 5 rules of theatre etiquette. Well here in London it would seem we have our own 5 rules:

1. Lean forward in your seat – in sloping sections of the theatre this transforms you from a 6 foot man into an 8 foot pillar with sticky out ears that makes people behind you wonder why their ticket hasn’t got “restricted view” printed on it.

2. Feel free to use your mobile phone throughout the performance – the person next to you may be afraid of the dark, and the theatre staff need the exercise. All that running up and down the aisles saves them the cost of gym membership. It would be rude of them not to thank you.

3. If you are munching on popcorn or Maltesers, do so as loudly as possible, and completely out of beat with the music – your syncopation skills enhance the experience for everyone in the surrounding 10 rows.

4. Bring your snacks along in a plastic bag (or better still, why not wrap your sandwiches in tinfoil) and rummage deeply at every opportunity, preferably during a quiet and emotional scene – the people around you may have purchased discounted tickets. The cheapskates obviously don’t deserve to hear ALL of the show.

5. Repeat puns and/or discuss plot revelations at length and as loudly as possible during the show – your fellow audience members may have medical conditions that impair their cognitive abilities and will be eternally grateful. Hey, why not give a running commentary throughout the whole show at the top of your voice?

If you follow these rules you will make many new friends. Although occasionally you may provoke that most terrifyingly British of responses – the gentle tap on your shoulder, or slow head turn, followed by a withering look and a loud tut.

6. There are 6! In the 10 seconds between the last note of the final number and the beginning of curtain call, get up and walk out – you’ve paid through the nose for these tickets, and the people on stage expect gratitude and congratulations? It’s not as if they’ve been working hard – time they got a proper job.

Good. Grief.