9th April 2017

Yesterday evening I travelled to the Live Theatre in Newcastle to watch “The Red Lion” which features one of my favourite actors, the Trollied and Brassed Off star, Stephen Tompkinson. It was excellent.

Tompkinson is joined in the play by two other actors, veteran actor John Bowler and young Gateshead actor Dean Bone.

Bowler plays a kitman with a life-long association and affection for “Red Lion FC” whilst Tompkinson plays a non-league Manager steeped in the realities of Football at the grassroots level where hard-nosed practicality usurps any high morale code held by the club romantic. Bone plays a skilled young Footballer who just wants to play and becomes the centrepiece of this ideological sporting struggle.

Whilst enjoying the excellent play and marvelling at how the actors memorise and flawlessly deliver one and three quarter hours of dialogue, some of my fellow crowd members proved almost as entertaining.

Just before the play started a man entered the cabaret area, which for you non-thespian Football fans means you get a table and sit at the front of the theatre, with a full tray of drinks that he promptly dropped and spilled everywhere.

As the loud liquid “ploosh” sound was followed by a deafening split second silence that was then nicely finished off by a palpable groan from the crowd, I almost shared his embarrassment. This may or may not have been as painful as the look of the people he spilled the drinks over.

In the same group was a woman who, once the play began, leant her head back and happily slept open-mouthed throughout a good portion of the play. Her snooze was only interrupted when ar mobile phone went off twice halfway through the show. She woke up. It was her phone.

These incidents alone would have been crowd drama enough, but the husband and wife couple next to me were lovingly caressing one another’s legs throughout.

The only time I had a problem with this was when the man reached a little too far over and started stroking my leg instead of hers. I laughed as his wife grabbed his hand and firmly placed it back on her leg. I must admit to being little perplexed when she then shot me a look as if I had somehow corrupted her husband. He looked unmoved.

I love the theatre.

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