Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hey, theater folks: My bladder needs guidance!

I don't know what made me ask an usher at "I Love Lucy Live on Stage" last week if it had a break in the middle, but I was glad I did. "Nope," she said, tearing my ticket. "It's 110 minutes without an inter-" Before she could get to "mission," I was bolting for the bathroom.

Now, I realize 110 minutes isn't a long time to sit. Virtually every movie for adults runs at least that long, and almost all of us can watch those without getting up, sometimes after drinking a cup of soda the size of a Hyundai.

But most of us attending plays have been trained to expect an interval. Theater can often be a special event, preceded by a big meal with a couple of glasses of wine or tea. (One glass of wine, if I'm reviewing. Or none.) Psychologically, we're going to be ready to stretch our legs after 60 or 70 minutes.

Some plays lose their impact when they stop in the middle. (Not "Lucy," which had a natural place for a break but didn't use one.) When feelings run high, a playwright may not want to pull us up short, then build that emotional arc again from scratch in the second act.

If that's the case, producers should have a crier walk through the lobby beforehand yelling, "Hear ye, hear ye! There is no intermission in tonight's show!" (A big sign by the front entrance would also do.) But an announcement from the stage just before the lights go down isn't good enough: There's too little time for people to come and go in a mass exodus.

I'd think most producers would want an intermission every time, in hopes of selling snacks and drinks in the lobby. But if there's not a break, they should let us know well before we settle into our seats. Even the most youthful theatergoers would appreciate a word to the wise.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The placement or absence of an intermission is generally printed in the program.

Lawrence Toppman said...

Yes, that's usually (though not always) true: I don't think it was in the "Lucy" program, for example. But that's helpful only if you have gotten to your seat in plenty of time to read the program and remember to look for it....

Randy said...

Lawrence: I saw Lucy the other night. They were probably worried the audience would leave in the middle. Forced with very few laughs. Your review was too kind.

Lambie said...

We went with friends Tuesday night. There were signs at every entrance saying no intermission.

Lambie said...

Randy must have missed his dinner. It was a fun performance, we laughed heartily, Toppman's review was right on.

Anonymous said...

2 Hours Larry?

You might want to check with your doctor to see when you are due for another PSA test.

Anonymous said...

NASA pants, anyone?

Lawrence Toppman said...

A note to Lambie: I wonder if those signs went up because people asked for them after opening night. The usher I asked said, "They should have put signs out front." (I didn't really bolt away from her in mid-sentence.) She was surprised, as I was, not to see them.