ICP #35 | On being unconvincing about theatre

In London in 2009 I bump into my ex-boyfriend’s best friend in the street.
He was from Belfast and girls would do anything to date him. The running theme of our friendship-of-circumstance had been that I studied theatre and he’d never seen a play.
You’ll have to come to a show with me, I’d say, Come to see the new thing at work. I’ll get you comps.
And he’d say, Yes! I’d love to! Let’s do it!
But I suspected that we wouldn’t.
And that night when we bump into each other in the street we’ve both been drinking enough to pretend we’re still a part of each other’s lives and he says, When are you gonna take me to the theatre?!
And I say Yes! Soon! Let’s do it!
But I strongly suspect that we won’t.

In Auckland in 2011 I drive to a beach with my housemate.
He was from Newcastle and hadn’t been in New Zealand long, so I navigate. I didn’t have a smartphone then, but if I’d been somewhere before I could just remember the way. I try to think of things that might be interesting; like the west coast beaches all have black sand because of volcanoes and that tree, the pohutukawa, blooms red at Christmas.
Eventually we talk about our jobs. And he says, So why theatre, not film?
And I say, With theatre you can do whatever you want. If you want a man alone in a small boat in the middle of the ocean, in theatre all you need is a man and maybe an oar. With film you’d need an ocean and a boat and cameras and money and for it to look really really good. But if you tell a theatre audience that he’s alone on a small boat in the middle of the ocean – they’ll just believe you. With theatre you can do anything you want.
And he says, …Right.

In Sydney in 2017 a waiter tells me the artichoke goes really well with the duck parfait and he’s right.
He was from Portland and right about all his recommendations. The restaurant is dark but inviting, with wood-panelled walls covered in old French posters and a grand piano sans pianist. We don’t sit down to eat till after nine-thirty, so later when he brings coffee and the tables start to empty, he asks us where we’ve been tonight.
We tell him we’ve been to the theatre and he thinks he’s heard of the play when we describe it.
I tell him he should go, that it was incredible. I tell him it’s the best thing I’ve seen in years.
And he says, Yeah, I should really get to the theatre more.
And then, as if proximity was the only impetus, There’s one right by my house.

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