Live theatre, you really can’t beat it. No performance is ever the same and that can certainly be said for this afternoon’s performance and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery at the Birmingham Rep which didn’t quite go to plan.
Imagine the scene, a police guard watching a diamond which is secured by laser floor, a man coming down from the roof like a scene from mission impossible, or like Wallace and Gromit and the Wrong Trousers.
The thief starts to unscrew the case with an electronic screwdriver which wakes the guard up. We hear a woman singing from the roof and then….freeze.
Emerging from the side of a stage is a man, all in blacks announcing that there is an issue with the flying system. There’s an awkward giggle around the auditorium, almost as if people thought it was part of the show. It wasn’t.
The safety curtain dropped and the house lights went up. It was like that for around 10 minutes and then the moment we were hoping for…the show is ready to restart! There was an enormous applause in the auditorium and we were back where we started.
Why did I decide to write this blog post? Theatres have to pause shows fairly often, arguably more often now than they did in the past due to an increased presence of technology. So why recount this experience?
The reason I did is due to the professionalism of the Rep staff and the actors involved. It’s the first pause in a show where it was communicated to the audience exactly what was the problem so the audience knew exactly what was going on. Not only was this done, but it was done immediately.
I’ve been to a couple of shows before when the safety curtain was lowered and there was no communication at all about what was going on and it was like that for 10 -15 minutes. I’ve had the same experience when a show has started 15-20 minutes late.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working in Customer Service the past four years its that keeping people in the loop is key to providing a good experience.
Finally, congratulations to the cast members involved who didn’t break their characters until the safety curtain was dropped. Not only that, the additional break didn’t cause a drop in energy or enthusiasm from the cast. They continued afterwards right to the end of the play with conviction and leaps of energy.
Pauses in productions are never easy, but Birmingham Rep and Mischief Theatre, I applaud you both