On March 4, 2020 at the Old Vic, I saw my final plays before lockdown: “Endgame” and “Rough for Theatre II.” Could it have been more prophetic?
I had a ticket for the matinee, and decided, for once, to treat myself to lunch. Walking down The Cut, I found two options, a cozy pub and a burger joint. I walked back and forth between the two places, unable to decide.
Right, I thought. I’m going to be an adult and choose the three-course lunch from the pub. No burgers for me. I’m not in university any more.
I will always regret my decision to be an adult.
The pub’s small, wood-paneled rooms felt crowded with large, empty tables awaiting sizeable parties. Faced with a solo diner, the waitress didn’t know where to put me, eventually seating me at the head of an empty banquet table, my back to the window, putting my single-diner status on display to the world.
Unthrilled with my location but needing to get on with it, I ordered three courses, which the waiter assured me could be brought out all at once.
Never believe that line.
The steaming, buttery bowl of poorly-cooked mussels arrived quickly. The other course was, apparently, forgettable, and dessert was a terrible lemon disaster. Ever the child taught not to waste food, I shoveled it down and left just as a large group was seated at my table, their glances a clear reprimand of my unconventional choices.
Learning to be an adult is learning not to care what other people think about you. Tell me how you’re getting on with that, will you?
The theater was steps away, so I arrived and settled in my stall seat. I don’t think I’d ever been so close to the stage before!
It was my first double bill. We were treated to a nice, funny short play called “Rough for Theatre II.” I loved being close enough to see the actors’ faces!
Sadly, my marvelous seat did not improve my understanding of “Endgame.” I’d read “Waiting for Godot” and enjoyed it. I didn’t understand it, but I remember laughing. I didn’t laugh much at “Endgame.”
But I don’t blame Beckett or the cast—the production was superbly done! The fault lay solely in my increasing physical discomfort. By the intermission, I had begun to worry I’d caught covid, and by the sweat on my flushed face, I’m sure the people seated next to me wondered the same.
Never have I been so happy for the curtain to fall. I ran out of the theater, caught my train home, and by 7 p.m. was fast asleep.
My story doesn’t end there. No, it ends hours later with my head in the toilet, regretting my decision to be an adult and have the mussels for lunch.
Like I said, who could have known that “Rough for Theatre II” and “Endgame” foretold my last few hours of freedom for 2020!?
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