The virus has claimed another victim. In the scheme of things, it is by no means at the top of the list of bad things suffered but jobs got lost and careers messed up. One of the hits of the West End last autumn was the arrival at the Criterion theatre of Pride and Prejudice
(sort of), an adaptation with a difference by Isobel McArthur of Jane Austen's famous novel. It was the climax of a journey which had begun at the Tron in Glasgow in 2018 and gone on to a national tour the following year. The London reviews were glowing and a long run beckoned – that can never be guaranteed but apart from anything else, the Criterion is one of London's 'lucky' theatres. After an initial surge, based on the reviews which had made it a must see for the theatregoer, the audiences needed to sustain the sales momentum failed to turn out and it will come off on 6 February.
It is not the end of the road however for this Scottish export. Producer David Pugh plans to re-open it in September at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, after which the show will embark on a 60-week nationwide tour before – he hopes – returning to London.
For theatres everywhere, these are the worst of times, with playhouses going dark, some possibly forever, and the number of performances and size of casts being cut – the mid-week matinee for instance, and Monday nights have gone for some productions. There are lots of other things to worry about, even if what is called the endemic has arrived or is on its way. But life without the swish of the curtain, the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd will be one in which that shared experience will have been lost. One can sit in one's cocoon watching an event or someone perform online, but it is not the same as sitting in the dark part of that strange beast – an audience.
Computer love song
Written using Wordsworth for Windows (no need for encryption, it is fiction)
My name was Mac, yours was Adell,
Supplanting the abacus that we knew well.
Our previous lives as stand-alones was hated
Our Internet linking was thus fated.
A search engine gave your address
Not my first visit there I confess.
I'd had few previous links in reality,
And I'd never had a virus or a (D)VD.
When we signed on together
Little did we wonder whether
It were possible to find love online,
But our experience turned out just fine.
Whilst drinking electrons in a cyberspace café
Whilst resting from the information highway.
A bit led to a lovebyte,
Your interface smiling. Quite.
You cast your web and I was Internetted
Entrapped, but not for one moment regretted.
We docked and set up a joint domain,
In order our love to contain.
Interesting high-level programmes we had to share
After mutual exchange of data, I do declare
Never again will we have to be lonely,
A scan shows we are about to have a little Sony!
Philip D Welsby
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