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An Evening at the Theatre - dorsetgirl
July 20th, 2007
02:45 pm
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An Evening at the Theatre

So, last night was the big night; a TRA-members visit to the theatre. Ten of us, by TRA screen names as I don't their permission to give real names: Me, Happylady and her sister, Annie Mae and a friend, Sunshine_Darkmoon, Mrs Overall, Angie-D, Tally, AmyJ1986.

I arrived at the pub at about 5-45; Mrs Overall had phoned while I was on the train, so I knew she was sitting just inside the door. I had also made myself a silly Railway Arms badge, so she clocked me just as I was wondering whether to speak or not. We met at the Lord Moon of the Mall, which is right next to the theatre. It’s been somewhat disparaged as a tourist trap, but I found it quite a comfortable place in a crowded London after-work sort of way. It's much bigger than I expected, but it was perfectly OK, and of course very convenient. I didn't try the food - I was so excited about seeing the play again that I couldn't face eating.

By dint of badges and phone calls we gradually made ourselves known to each other; eight complete strangers and two friends. The funniest part of this phase was when I got a call from Amy; moving to the doorway where it was quieter I started to explain where I was, and she started telling me she was at the pub, and then we realised we were actually standing right next to each other!

By the time 7-15 came around, I don't think anyone looking at our group would have guessed we'd never met until an hour earlier. We had a brilliant time, chatting about all sorts, but mainly of course Life on Mars, Doctor Who and John. If we'd simply fixed a pub meetup I would have felt I'd had a great evening already. And they were so kind - they'd signed a card to thank me for organising the group booking, and given me some book vouchers! If I didn't do so properly last night, then THANK YOU now. If Amy reads this, I have a request – if you have an LJ or similar, please post your story about watching the last two episodes – the one with the aerial! You told it so well, it was just hysterical.

At 7-20 we went along to the theatre; some people queued for programmes while some went straight through. Getting to Studio 1 involves travelling through a bit of a labyrinth of dimly-lit black-painted corridors, but when you get to the auditorium the feel is very similar to the Bush. We had the whole of Row AA, together with four seats of Row A, and I think everyone was very pleased at how close to the action we were.


I won’t say anything about the play itself here, because we are allowed to talk about that on TRA. I didn’t get a chance to ask other people what they were thinking during the play, but when I saw it at the Bush, every other thought was “I can’t believe I’m in the same room as John”. However, having got through that experience, and now speaking as someone who was seeing it for the second time, these are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind:


♥ It’s funnier, and sort of bigger – what have they done that’s different?

♥ I still can’t believe that’s John, I just can’t see him.

♥ I like this better than I did at the Bush – I think knowing how it all comes out in the end lets you relax and enjoy it more.

♥ Pyjamas / bedhead / Master

♥ Oooh, look at those legs / those arms / that chest / that neck / those hands

♥ Isn’t it weird how he can do so much with his hair to make himself look different

♥ Oh wow, those strange cover shots of the Master with the airbrushed face and the almost pointy chin – there he is, it is John’s own face after all!

♥ I think Keir’s losing it – he’s going to burst out laughing at any moment.

♥ The actors all seem to be having a great time doing this.

♥ I hope John doesn’t regret signing up for 3 months – that’s a long time to do 8 shows a week at this level of performance.

♥ Oh my God, there’s Kendle Bains, just for a second.

♥ He really is quite small, isn’t he – so sweet and so gorgeous.

♥ How the hell is someone that size The Master?

♥ How can this odd skinny little guy with the funny face be the same man who only 3 weeks ago was totally believable as  the Master? The Master dominated the screen, the story, everything, with a huge display of apparently effortless power, charm, charisma, sexiness, madness. It just  burned out of the screen, and yet there is none of that here.

Cal is lovable, Sam is adorkable, the Master is HOT, and yet Elling is sweet and funny and that’s all.

♥ How can he do those huge booming shouts when Elling gets riled, and yet still sound like Elling? How does he go into the lower register (probably the wrong technical term) and use a very deep strong loud voice, but without undermining the fact that we think of Elling as having a repressed squawky sort of voice?

♥ Final line of the play; a moment’s silence then: oh look, it’s John, I’m in the same room as John.


I just had the biggest grin on my face at the end, definitely even more so than the first time I saw the play; I just could not stop grinning like a fool. I think the cast were pleased at our response; they seemed to be smiling and cheerful, not just doing the job of the curtain call. They went off and came back again to even louder applause.


Only one odd note – I don’t know the etiquette of taking the bow, but I would expect the star, ie John, to lead it. Either I’ve got that wrong, or John didn’t want to, or didn’t have the confidence that the rest of the cast would follow. He was seriously hesitant about going into the bow, both times. Perhaps Adrian, as the biggest, and as the person in the middle, should lead?


As soon as the cast left again, we set off round a couple of corners for the stage door; there were 3 or 4 people there already, plus 8 of us (Happylady and her sister had to leave straight away), plus an older couple arrived soon after us. At this point I finally remembered to switch my phone back on in the hope of getting a picture, and agreed to take a picture of a German(?) girl who was there already, if she could get one with John.


I managed to position myself so I could see down the corridor to the stage door. I have to admit that by this stage I was so nervous that I really can’t remember what order people came out in. At this point we did notice the heckler walk down the road to join us; he kept asking people if he could borrow a pen, and kept trying to start up conversations, but I have to admit we didn’t answer.


When Keir came out, he looked quite prepared to glide through the small crowd without speaking or stopping, but when I asked him if he would sign my book he was quite happy to do so. I’d bought the book of this production last week, and when he saw what it was he said he hadn’t realised there was a book available, so  I told him it had been published the day before they opened. I said I thought it was funnier than at the Bush, and he said something about it being a bigger space, that you could use better. He was very friendly and seemed relaxed, and said goodbye to everyone before walking off up the road.


When Ingrid came out I asked if she would sign, and again she seemed perfectly happy to do so. I asked her what was different about this staging of the show – for example had they put in extra moves and made some bits more slapstick-y, and she said it was to do with having a bigger stage to work with. When I said I thought it was funnier than at the Bush and that for some reason I’d enjoyed it more, she said it had been a good audience. She seemed perfectly friendly and “ordinary” in a nice way.


Jonathon commented that it was nice that the programme was in the same colours as the set  “very IKEA”, and he was also happy to sign all around.


During all this, there were 2 or 3 guys who stood back, not taking any interest in Keir, Ingrid or Jonathon.


And then, finally, the door opened again - very tentatively at first – and there was Adrian, with John barely glimpsed behind him.


They came out to us, and again I was first point of contact (good positioning there, but a bit nerve-wracking). I don’t know if it’s deliberate that they normally come out one at a time, but that certainly works better. When Adrian and John came out together I asked Adrian if he would sign my book, and then as John seemed on the point of walking away I asked him as well (he didn’t look ecstatic about it, but he agreed pleasantly enough), so I was then in the strange position of having Adrian reach out for the book and John taking the pen at the same time. Adrian signed first, then John, and then the German girl asked me to use her camera as John had agreed to a picture.


I did try, but my mind was in pieces and I couldn’t figure out how to work the camera, I really couldn’t get a grip mentally or physically. Eventually I had to say “I’m sorry, I can’t do it, my hands are shaking too much” and Ingrid, lovely lady, said she would do it. She’s presumably used to seeing the state people get into around John! I asked her if she would do one for me as well and she agreed; it seemed to take ages, I don’t know why. The picture has come out reasonably well, but the light was terrible, so I’m going to try to have a play with it before posting. I was very conscious of my bare arm against John’s leather jacket.


Unfortunately by the time Ingrid had given me my camera back, John had moved away and been accosted by the heckler and the – presumably – Doctor Who fans, but I did manage to call out “thanks very much John” a bit later as he left.


I just have to say here, and I mean this in a positive way, not negative: in the flesh, John is not sweet! He is brooding and handsome and strong – or at least he was last night!


A comment: there seems to be a feeling that people should only expect to get things relating to the current role signed, and that people are being cheeky by presenting, for example, Mr Saxon pictures for signing if they haven’t even been in to see the play. But I don’t think these guys had piles of photos or anything. I wonder – how does anyone know how much those people have spent, and will spend, on buying DVDs, action figures, t-shirts, books, you name it, relating to John as the Master? I really can’t see John doing the Doctor Who conference circuit, so for people who think John is wonderful for his Doctor Who role, the Trafalgar stage door probably represents their best chance of getting to see him. Does not having seen Elling really make them less deserving of John’s autograph than anyone else?


After the cast had all gone, we stood around for a little while longer, then Angie-d organised a group shot which was nice, and she has posted it on her LJ. Eventually we broke up just before 11pm  - hugs all round, lovely - to go back to our respective stations.


The final little gloss on the evening was on the train: halfway home, my mobile text alert went off, and it was a message from HappyLady. And the point of telling you this bit is that my text alert tone is John as The Master going “Oooh, new voice, HELLO, hello!”, and it always makes me jump a mile. It also got grins from everyone sitting around me!


The whole thing really felt like a night out with a bunch of old friends – so thanks to all of you, I had a lovely time!

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(18 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:July 20th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
WOW, what a fantastic account of last night :-) Reading it was like being there all over again!!!

It really was an amazing night, and I totally agree that it felt like we were a bunch of 'old friends'.

All the cast were wonderful but I have to admit that I spent more time with Adrian, simply because I adore him!!!

Thanks again DG for arranging such a top night :-)

[User Picture]
Date:July 20th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this lovely report, DG!
I'm so glad you had such a good time! And didn't I tell you to not let it be spoiled by anything? ;-)

Love your random thoughts during the play. Some of them I had myself! LOL

And if you ever should find out why we all fell for "this odd skinny little guy with the funny face", then please do tell me. I've tried to find the answer to that one myself - unsuccessfully! LOL

And it's good to read that even people without the language barrier are just as nervous about meeting John as I'd been! LOL

"Does not having seen Elling really make them less deserving of John’s autograph than anyone else?"

No, I don't think so. They're fans of his, I wouldn't make any distinctions.
I myself didn't have anything movie related for him to sign, either. Just two photo prints taken of picture files from the internet, taken at official occasions - one from an NME award and one from a photoshoot.

P.S.: funny you should mention Kendal Bains.....I've just watched MEN OF THE WORLD and fell in love with John all over again. He is just so utterly adorable as Kendal!
[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
"Does not having seen Elling really make them less deserving of John’s autograph than anyone else?"

No, I don't think so. They're fans of his, I wouldn't make any distinctions.

But a lot of people do; there is a very strong presumption that people who wait at a stage door without having seen the play are just e-bay traders; there seems to be no recognition that they might be huge fans of an actor who have no wish to pay £42-50 for a play the reviews tell them they're unlikely to enjoy. *gets off soap box*

And I agree that adorable is the word for Kendle. I'm working my way through series 2 at the moment, and I don't think it's as good as series 1. They haven't actually got into the office yet, which cuts out quite a few stories.

Date:July 21st, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
Hi dorsetgirl.,

Loved your account of the play I am going next week with my daughters and sister. Re the stage door, do you wait on the street or is it inside? I just wondered as you said you could see down the corridor. Planning for next week you understand!
[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)

Stage Door

Hi Joanie,

You wait on the street, but the door is set about ten feet into the building, so there is a "corridor" between the door and the street. I realised afterwards that I should have got pictures of Keir and Adrian, but I wasn't really thinking straight! If you were to get a pic of Keir I would love to have a copy - he seems a really nice guy, he was calm and friendly. But both times I've seen the play I had to actually speak to him to stop him just wandering past; perhaps they get used to the fact that many people only want to talk to John.
[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
"But a lot of people do; there is a very strong presumption that people who wait at a stage door without having seen the play are just e-bay traders; there seems to be no recognition that they might be huge fans of an actor who have no wish to pay £42-50 for a play the reviews tell them they're unlikely to enjoy. *gets off soap box*"

(Don't know how to use italics in HTML. Neither bolding. I'm useless with HTML. Grrrrrr....)

DG, who does? Did you actually talk to people that said that fans that hadn't seen the play had no place at the stage door?
The first night we were there, we hadn't seen the play yet, either, because we had just arrived in London. But I personally didn't really have any problem with that, and nobody else knew, so....?
If people don't WANT to see the play, for whatever reasons, but still are fans of John's, then that's okay, I'd say. Although it's hard for me to understand how anyone wouldn't want to see John live on stage, even though they weren't really interested in the play! LOL

That first night we were at the stage door, there were two other German girls, who turned out to be temporary residents of London - they were au pairs.
They hadn't seen the play and didn't plan to, either. One only knew John from Dr. Who and was just curious and taking this chance to meet him, and her friend had never heard of John before. But they weren't e-bayers. And they weren't pushy or obnoxious or anything - they approached John with respect.
Why should they have less of a "right" to meet John and get an autograph?

About MEN OF THE WORLD........spoilers following, so if you haven't seen it yet and plan to, don't read any further. ;-)

I agree, series 2 isn't as good as series 1, but it still has countless great John moments. AND - it has the added bonus of Kendal having a girl friend, with all the snogging that entails. :-p
And Kendal is still so adorable and sweet. I just love John in this. No wonder he is where he is now careerwise - his talent oozed from him even then. Producers and directors must have recognized it.
[User Picture]
Date:August 1st, 2007 12:50 am (UTC)
DG, who does? Did you actually talk to people that said that fans that hadn't seen the play had no place at the stage door?

Zhora, I'm fairly sure a number of people made this sort of comment on the old Trafalgar/Elling thread, and possibly the Bush one. However, what I had in mind was something John himself said to the Doctor Who guys "Did you even see the play?". I don't know how that comes over in translation, but to me it's the same as him saying "I don't believe you even saw the play, did you. [That's not good enough]."

Sorry it's taken so long to come back to you on this, I got a bit lost on which bits I'd answered and which ones I hadn't. For italics you just do <*i> before the text and </i> after it. Without the asterisk.
Date:July 21st, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC)
Hey- 'tis Amy. I wanted to post about my Elling adventure but, unfortunately, my internet connection got flooded (unbelievably!) and I've spent most of the past two days helping my family with the rain. It's all sorted now, and I'll set up a livejournal and do my stories tomorrow.

Mostly, just wanted to THANK YOU for sorting all the tickets and everything. It's all very much a blur, but I'm so glad I made it, especially before the rain hit!

Thanks again,
Amy x
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
Hi Amy,you're very welcome; it was lovely to meet you and I'm really looking forward to reading anything you feel like posting about the evening. Certain parts of it are definitely a blur to me too, but meeting all you lovely TRA'ers is very clear in my mind, even if some of the conversations aren't!

I hope you got your aquatic issues sorted OK - was there water actually in the house?
[User Picture]
Date:July 25th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)

sunshine_darkmoon here.
Thanks for this wonderful review. It's nice to read about other people's impressions, then my own one's are slowly coming back, too (at least a little bit).
Thanks again so much for organizing the tickets :) Without you I don't think I would have had the chance to see Elling THAT near to the stage!

Will write a review myself, but it could take a little while longer than I thought. Will post the link later on TRA.

That "German girl" you wrote about - I might be wrong, but I think it was the same one I met again on Saturday evening. She is actually from Israel (but living in London since 9 months). I thought she was nice, and she put this strange thought in my head that I might want to watch Elling again later in September or so *cough* But...where to take the money from? (And it certainly doesn't make it easier to say "no" when even my sister just told me she might be willing to come along with me to London *arghaaa*).

That strange man (the heckler) irritated me as well, didn't know what to think about him.

And it was such a wonderful trip: meeting you all, watching Elling, "meeting" John and the other cast members at the stage door and walking around in London!

Oh, and what has become of the photo with you and John? Already "played" around with it in photoshop? :D Got a photo with John and me on Saturday evening as well (and he's grinning *g*).
Date:August 2nd, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
(TRA - oh2beagrapefruit, here)

Thanks for this, DorsetGirl. It was lovely reading about your trip - I'd been waiting so long for this July to come around, feel like I've known about it forever!!

Glad you and all of the others had a great time. It would have been nice to come and meet you all; it was sad I couldn't. But good to see you all had a onderful evening - I knew you would. How could you do anything but with such a brilliant play and such people to meet afterwards? :-D

Just to say once again, thank you. I didn't go with you others but if it wasn't for you and your help I never would have gone at all. Thank you so much.
[User Picture]
Date:August 2nd, 2007 11:28 pm (UTC)
Hi O2B,

You're very welcome; I was so pleased I'd managed to help you find a way to go to the play, and thrilled it worked out for you.

I see you've PM'd me; I haven't been to TRA since about 5pm, so I'll go there now and see what's happening. I can hardly wait for some more 1981!Gene pictures!
Date:August 3rd, 2007 10:46 am (UTC)
I too had problems taking a phot of John, the picture I took came out so dark, although he is smiling! My pic of Phil was much better though. It is funny because the pic I took of john at the Bush didn't come out very well either! Maybe my camera is star struck.
[User Picture]
Date:August 3rd, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC)
Hi Joanie, can we see the pic of Phil at all? I'd love to see it! And the one of John of course. Or are they at TRA? (I've been out all day, haven't been there yet).
Date:August 4th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
Hi, the pic I have set as default is the Phil pic. Not sure how to add the dark John pic! Any advice?
[User Picture]
Date:August 4th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
Hi Joanie, if you just want to load up the John pic for use as an avatar/icon, LJ lets you have up to 15, and I think it lets you specify for each post and comment which one you want to use.

However, if you want to load the pictures up so they're a bit bigger for people to see, you would need to load them up to Photobucket or similar.
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