This time last week, Jane and I got to go out on a Saturday night for the first time in far too long, thanks to our excellent new babysitter. We were thinking of going to a movie, maybe The Artist, but checked what was on at the theatre on the off-chance, and were able to get a couple of seats in the rear stalls to the last night of The Infamous Brothers Davenport at the Lyceum.
We started off with a meal at Wagamama, perhaps the Asian equivalent of the Olive Garden but still welcomed by my restaurant-starved tastebads, and which had the added advantage of being quick. We joined the long queue at 6.15, and I wasn’t sure we’d make it in time for a 7.45 show, but we were in and out in an hour.
Just in time for a pre-show drink. It felt unnatural standing in the theatre bar. We used to do this kind of thing all the... well, not all the time, in fact the Serious Theatre wasn’t ever something we did a lot, but we certainly went out a lot more in the days Before Children, to Fringe shows in August and to movies and concerts in other months. Now a single night at the theatre has the golden aura of a special event.
That makes it hard for any show to live up to expectations, but The Infamous Brothers Davenport and their Spectacular Stage Séance fared well. The story was engaging enough, and the acting was good, but this show was really all about the staging, with a terrific set which transformed as if by magic again and again. It really did leave you feeling you had Been to the Theatre. The Guardian’s review captures it well.
In the first act we thought they had added some spooky sound effects as well, as some ethereal noises appeared to be emanating from the walls behind us. But when they went on and on, with no particular bearing on the performance in front of us, we wondered what they could possibly be. The interval revealed all: an elderly couple behind us were wearing theatre-provided hearing aids that were picking up mobile phone interference.
The second act went off without a hitch, and we went home happy. Walking up the stairs to our flat, we hoped that number one child hadn’t given the babysitter too much grief—he had been highly dubious about the whole arrangement, insisting that he didn’t want us going off and having fun without him. It turned out that he had been no trouble at all. Number two child, though, who normally goes to sleep in thirty seconds flat, had woken up an hour or so later and had been inconsolable ever since.