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Wednesday, May 18

I'd arranged, a few days previously, to go to see a performance of Jekyll and Hyde (a musical of course) in Sunderland. At the time I made the arrangement with my friend, we'd suggested the possibility of meeting up for food first. I wasn't sure that that was going to be possible (with an intensive work schedule and all) but left it open - to be decided nearer the time. How near the time should it be organised, though?

Late the previous evening, realising that I'd not yet arranged the meeting time and place, I'd checked my email, with the intention of dropping the other person a line about the meeting point. She'd beaten me to it. So, I sent her a late night reply. I decided that we may as well meet for food - there's a pub quite near to the theatre. We clarified the arrangements over the course of the day, and I found myself in Sunderland at 6pm-ish.

My friend had parked her car in front of the theatre, which rather annoyed me, as mine was in a pay-car-park round the corner and I'd not even considered finding a free space RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE THEATRE. We wandered over to the pub and then the doubt set in. Was it really free? Was that yellow line until 7, rather than 6? Would the post-theatre rush render the space a pain in the arse, rather than a convenient location? We had the time to put it right, so a minute after we'd settled ourselves in an eating area with menus, we left the pub, picked up the car, moved it to a new car park and then returned to the pub, to the same table and picked up the menus again.

The pub hadn't been that quiet when we went to see the last show at that theatre. In fact, the available seating last time hadn't been anything like as good as when I booked for this time. Perhaps it wasn't going to be as busy a show.

The people on the next table hailed us on our return to the pub. We joked with them a bit about trying other pubs and coming back to the first and then explained about the car. They asked us what we were doing that night. We said we were going to see a musical. Our new-found friends then revealed themselves as members of the cast of that show. They were self deprecating about the experience we were due to enjoy/endure. They seemed committed enough to it after the 300 or so performances they'd given on their tour so far. Apparently, this was the last venue. Always the one to show off my geekiness about musicals, I asked them whether the ludicrous lyric "And the front bit, is what is called a facade" had remained in the show. Apparently not. I was then treated to a comment on a lyric which still was in the show. As it happens, I didn't know too much about this show, only having listened to it on CD from the original broadway cast. I knew that it had some nice music in it and the lyrics were, in places, quite good. Often, I found it quite poor to listen to, but you cannot judge a show entirely on how it sounds, which is why I decided to see a performance of it.

The cast left before us - something about having to get into makeup and costumes - having recommended moments to look out for in the show. We had our food. Curry. Not bad. Wetherspoons is Wetherspoons.

The show was nothing special. The fact that we were in a reasonably empty auditorium probably contributed to that too. It's hard for a cast to give a totally magical 300th performance of something when they're getting very little back from the crowd and the source material is not all that good in the first place. There were some good moments and it Paul Nicholas gave a solid performance. We spotted a few familiar faces in the chorus, which sort of livened things up a bit. The bottom line is that it simply wasn't a very good show and those people who stayed away because they hadn't heard of the show and didn't want to try something new were probably right to do so, even though one should always try to give a show a chance to entertain.

There was no post-theatre rush jamming the spaces in front of the place. Never mind. Better luck next time.

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