Remember manly man Kevin Williamson at the National Review, who yesterday reflected on his masculine bona fides:
I had a genuinely new experience at the theater tonight: I was thrown out.
The show was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which was quite good and which I recommend. The audience, on the other hand, was horrible — talking, using their phones, and making a general nuisance of themselves. It was bad enough that I seriously considered leaving during the intermission, something I’ve not done before. The main offenders were two parties of women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels, and insufficient attention span for following a two-hour musical. But my date spoke with the theater management during the intermission, and they apologetically assured us that the situation would be remedied.
It was not. The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: “So don’t look.” I asked her whether I had missed something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her. She suggested that I should mind my own business.
Here’s a picture of the theatre and performance in question from a review yesterday, and it isn’t some quiet darkened performance, it’s a rousing musical where the guests sit around the state and are served food and drinks and… the lights are on so the god damned cell phone glow couldn’t even be used as an excuse for his assault:
A description of the show:
The clash of armies is not to be heard during “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” the vibrant, transporting new musical adapted from a potent slice of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” True, Napoleon is nominally present, presiding with a stern semi-smile over the proceedings from within a copy of a Jacques-Louis David portrait. But the roiling sounds of battle do not intrude on the romantic drama unfolding before us in Dave Malloy’s freshly imagined pop opera, which opened on Thursday night at a custom-built cabaret called Kazino, in the meatpacking district.
The clash of cutlery, on the other hand, occasionally echoes as Tolstoy’s tale of love, corruption and fateful meetings swirls like a feverish dream before us, above us, around us. Following its acclaimed, sellout run last fall at Ars Nova, the production has been given a stylish and sumptuous upgrade, and now comes with a full meal attached.
The show is performed in an elaborately appointed salon, with claret-colored velvet draperies and period paintings adorning the walls. Spiky candelabras modeled on the starbursts at the Metropolitan Opera twinkle from above. (Mimi Lien’s set designs form a crucial part of the mise-en-scène.) The audience sits at tables and banquettes clustered tightly together. Dinner service begins an hour before the performance. (The Broadway-size price tag is $125, but on Broadway you don’t get borscht.) For those who truly want to enter into the spirit of the drama, carafes of vodka can be purchased.
Yes, bottle service has come to Off Broadway. (Where more appropriately than in the meatpacking district?) I suspect it was inevitable: audiences are flocking to productions that dispense entirely with the theater’s traditional fourth wall and provide nightclub-style amenities. Punchdrunk’s “Sleep No More,” which allows patrons to dawdle for a drink before, during and after the show, remains a hot ticket. (One of its producers is among the presenters of “Natasha.”) The interactive musical “Here Lies Love,” at the Public Theater, invites the audience to boogie on down with Imelda Marcos and friends.
But those with anxiety issues surrounding audience participation need not fear for their nerve endings at Mr. Malloy’s romp, directed with propulsive sweep by Rachel Chavkin. Although the characters may occasionally plop down at a table, and much of the drama unfolds in a narrow alley between the tables, no enforced folk dancing will be required, and no one will offer an arm to pull you into a polonaise.
These sociopaths will lie about anything.