London theatre is highly regarded around the world for its resilience, its resourcefulness and downright refusal to stop for anyone or anything. Even during the Blitz, the show went on and so it did when a power cut in the West End disrupted the opening night of a new, star cast play.
Playwright Yasmina Reza has had huge, long-running success already in the West End with Art , and her new play God of Carnage looks set to be just as popular. Having Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Janet McTeer and Ken Stott in the original cast can't hurt its chances of extended runs at the Gielgud. And the unexpected shot of adrenaline for the critics who were plunged into darkness an hour into this new black comedy has already provided a few extra column inches about the actors' admirable capabilities.
The power cut occurred because of problems with the Underground electricity system, but after a brief, jocular apology from the theatre owner Sir Cameron Mackintosh himself, the show went on. Being a modern, middle class play about modern, middle class parents having muddled, middle class personality clashes with other middle class parents, there were many scenes involving mobile phones - none of which were ringing as the sound effects were also lost along with the stage lighting. Cue lots of miming and a terribly British back to basics approach, which did nothing but charm the critics who sat through the mayhem and came out with mainly positive words. Bravo to the cast and crew for making sure the show went on.
A little anecdote from the archives while we're feeling proud of our theatre scene: A few years ago, Zoe Wannamaker once stopped in the middle of a Shakespeare performance to shout at a school group who were disturbing the entire rapt auditorium with their early model mobile phones and incessant chatter.
The quality stage actor apparently projected her voice to the back row where the disturbance was occurring, pointing out in perfect diction that it was actually quite hard to do what she was doing and that they were being incredibly rude, then made an appropriately dramatic exit. When she reappeared to resume the play, the entire audience (except the disgraced school group) stood up to give her a standing ovation. We often dream of getting the bus with Zoe Wannamaker, especially when we get caught up in the end of school rush. Wouldn't that be an eloquent and effective replacement for the ineffectual numpties campaign?
Image courtesy of Simon Crubellier from the Londonist Flickr group