The Week in Arts: West End closes its doors to singletons

Share
Related Topics

Theatre, it seems, is now a place for what Bridget Jones called "the smug marrieds". Single people are being politely discouraged from attending. If you want to see a play, then jolly well go and pick someone up. Don't think you can just stroll in for an evening's Shakespeare if you haven't scored. Someone did try to go it alone at the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, and was quickly sent on their way.

You might have thought this couldn't possibly happen at a time when West End managements are meant to be encouraging people to go to the theatre. You might have thought that a tale of someone being turned away from a performance of the Royal Shakespeare Company's All's Well that Ends Well, because they wanted a single seat, must be a practical joke. But, yes. It really happened.

A theatre-goer was told by the Gielgud's box-office clerk that seats could be sold only in pairs. That theatre-goer wrote about the incident in a letter to a newspaper. My own inquiries reveal that the Gielgud has given the same response to other theatre-goers. One, indeed, was an actor, who immediately went backstage and told his friends in the cast what was happening.

It beggars belief that the RSC, which should delight in people wanting to see Shakespeare, would allow this to happen. Where is its public protest to the Really Useful Theatre company, which owns the Gielgud. But then, it beggars belief that RUT, the biggest theatre owner in the West End, would allow this to happen. I hear that the co-producer of All's Well..., the redoubtable Thelma Holt, has now put up a notice in the foyer saying that single seats most certainly will be sold from now on. Thank goodness for her. But a number of insiders I have spoken to this week tell me that the practice goes well beyond the Gielgud, and that the policy of not selling single seats is discreetly operated across the West End. If so, it is a disgrace.

Mind you, I'm a freak. I quite like going to the theatre on my own, being absorbed on my own, reflecting on my own, and - if the show is no good - walking out on my own. It's sometimes a relief not to have to worry about the reaction of the person sitting next to you. I must be the sort of person who makes West End managements despair. But then, I despair of them, as they seem determined to discourage going to the theatre.

Meanwhile, if you want to see Dame Judi Dench in All's Well that Ends Well, it should now be OK to go alone. But, just to be on the safe side, turn to The Independent personal columns, and see if you can find a partner for the night.

A classic tale, courtesy of Hollywood

God bless Hollywood. It's not so much the films - it's the way the stars and the movie magazines sell them. On release later this year is Troy, an epic tale of, well, the epic tale. It will star Brad Pitt as Achilles, Orlando Bloom as Paris and Diane Kruger as Helen. The movie will be loosely based on Homer. Empire magazine has a Hollywood critic looking forward to "a great script... And there are and a couple of nude scenes in there for Brad and Orlando".

Orlando Bloom has been quoted as saying: "Paris is like the anti-hero. He's just a young guy who's madly in love with Helen and he doesn't realise the consequences. He's a lover not a fighter."

Empire predicts the film will have "a little something for the fellas; a lot of something for the laydeez; bloody action scenes for the gorehounds".

Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships, will be turning in her grave. She has been described in many ways over the centuries, but never, I suspect, quite as dismissively as "a little something for the fellas".

¿ I visited the Britart exhibition at Tate Britain this week and watched as a lady, in some distress, had a fit of the vapours. "I won't look at it!" she cried. "I refuse to look!" The exhibit in question was by Damien Hirst. It consisted of a glass box containing a life-size, twitching, white-coated scientist sitting in a laboratory with butterflies flitting between cut flowers and pot plants. The trapped butterflies were, for this lady, an artistic statement too far. So, now we know. Nudity no longer surprises. Violence in art is old hat. Political posturing is a yawn. Any budding artist who really wants to shock should go catch some butterflies.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

‘They’ve seen the future – and got it for a song’: the unlikely history of Canary Wharf

Jack Brown
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee