I have a terrible habit when it comes to watching theatre: In a haze of theatre attending excitement, especially when I’ve been through a particularly dry patch (a combination of minimal funds and time) or have booked my tickets way in advance for something I must see, my expectations as a theatre-goer reaches dizzying heights – inevitably setting me up for some crashing disappointment.
I’m going to see one of my favourite company’s new production today and for three long weeks I have been scaling the mountain of Expectation. Naturally, I’m more than a little worried.
I will shoulder the blame here. If I am going to be stupid enough to go and watch something new, with a bullet point list of set ideas – psychic ability aside – what I thought it was going to be like will never match up to what it actually turns out to be. I have learnt that 0.9% of the time this can be a good thing. The odds, however, are not very favourable. Inflexibility as an audience member is tantamount to pure bloody-mindedness. It is always the case that the less time I spend apprehending an upcoming performance, the more I enjoy it. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if I fail to draw conclusions in advance (never wise), I won’t be surprised when the picture comes out a little different than I imagined. Still, this doesn’t mean that the performance will necessarily be better, just that I won’t feel bitter about it.
But in the spirit of pure bloody-mindedness, what if the disappointment I face is not down to me at all? What if my hard-earned, tax-deducted cash has been used to pay for an inadequate performance? Can I ask for a refund? “Excuse me Miss, but that wasn’t what it said on the tin.” If the waiter serving your meal spits into your food, do you leave a tip? I am of the opinion that the Arts is no place for compromise. If I want my Hockney blue, I will damn right get it.
Someone more rational than myself would just get up and leave but I can’t bring myself to do it. I always have the hope that things will turn out good in the end. I’m the kind of person who struggles through a book, unengaged, only to comprehend when turning the final page, how many precious moments of my life I have wasted in the attempt and the same goes for the stage. Perhaps you could label me an eternal optimist but I think idiot applies in equal measure.
Still, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed throughout the matinèe.