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When Jamie Lloyd’s Macbeth opened last night at Trafalgar Studios in London (I’ll get to the performance in a moment, but suffice it to say for now–incredible) the audience were made to wait in the foyer because “it’s not set up yet” the usher explained with a funny laugh (the type of laugh reserved for Big Surprises). We were excited, but we were getting more and more cramped. The frisson of curiosity was building. What should we expect?
We were already unsure what to expect before we arrived, as we’ve never experienced Stage Seating at the Trafalgar Studios before. At last we were directed downstairs, past the bar and then further down, past the stage door and then up again into a dystopian warehouse ringed in plush red seats. We were transfixed by the set–they had created a theatre-in-the-round and we, the audience were surrounded by the rusty, dusty, crumbling warehouse. We were all going to be in it together.
The seating was comfortable and as we had a drama student with us we were pleased to be on the aisle because much of the performance spilled into the walkway between the two sets of seats and she could see the actors even more up close—it was a case of moving your feet out of the way to keep from getting stomped on as the actors charged about.
We had been told in the foyer that the performance would start at 7.30 and yet it wasn’t until 7.40ish that it began. But then again, the performance really started the moment we were asked to wait in the foyer–crowds of people waiting in the holding area then directed according to our papers to areas where we would sit and watch the collapse of a man. What you expect to happen doesn’t, and what you don’t expect does. Intended or not, this served to set the scene of discord, surprise and wonder which would continue throughout the play; whether this was a nifty first-night mix-up or an intended device, it worked. Read the rest of this entry »