A Year And An Age Ago

Anniversaries are usually not on my agenda. I tend to forget significant dates – whether it is my own wedding anniversary (I usually only remember it on my son’s birthday – who was born five days after my wedding) or things like theatre visits (don’t ask me when I saw TC for the first time, for instance). This day today is a different matter. Exactly a year ago I was in London, and at this time I was meeting up with Linda60, getting ready for the theatre.

It was the first of the previews of Uncle Vanya in the Harold Pinter Theatre. The fact that I was there, was pure fluke, anyway, because the initial plan had been to see the play mid-run in March. But then I spontaneously decided to splash out on a short trip to London for one night only, specifically to see the first preview of the play. In hindsight, that was a lucky decision, as we all know now.

I remember how excited I was to see RA on the stage, live, again, and what a thrill it was that Astrov was basically the first character to appear on the stage when the curtain was drawn. There he was, on the left side of the stage, and my breath caught and my heart fluttered, a bit.

I admit that some of the play was actually overshadowed by the sheer joy of simply seeing RA on stage. Frankly, I didn’t really pay that much attention to the play – because at that point I thought that I was going to see it again, at a later stage. I concentrated on RA, and I remember noting a few things. The way he stood on stage with his hands in his pockets, like in the picture above – which kind of accentuated his lush posterior in a rather pleasing way *coughs*. The length of his hair, which struck me as very early-Chekhov. I remember feeling quite pleased and surprised about his comic timing, and how well he did in a play that was surprisingly funny. And I remember laughing to myself when the play got to the point where Astrov rips off his shirt and goes frolicking in the rain. So much for “don’t want to take my kit off anymore”…

Then there was the excitement of the stage door – which was actually much less coronary-inducing than on previous occasions, possibly because I had my doubts whether he would show up at all, first night etc. Instead there was a very close encounter with a seemingly relaxed and friendly RA who kindly posed for lots of photos and signed programmes.

So, today is a bit of a bittersweet look back at a theatre experience that has become unforgettable, not least because of what happened later. I’m glad I made that first trip – not least because it made it easier for me to cancel the later, planned trip (at a time when the pandemic was building momentum, yet the theatres had not yet closed). There is also a feeling of closure in it for me, today. A year later I feel as if maybe now I can actually go and watch the filmed version of the play without it feeling overshadowed by the disappointment over the cancelled tickets. And I am also glad that now the fans can get back onto equal footing, with the filmed version available – somehow – for everyone. The film doesn’t quite replace the live experience and I am glad it exists. But I also look forward to the future when hopefully we can experience theatre live again – preferably with Mr A in a juicy role.

33 thoughts on “A Year And An Age Ago

  1. I found my ticket recently and my anniversary is the 18th January
    Toby Jones didn’t have a pen and I thought it didn’t matter too much because I had two more chances, if only I knew😂I would have begged a pen from someone in the crowd

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    • It’s the first time I am properly revisiting that memory. I kind of put it in the back of my mind because it somehow was tinged with regret… Looking forward to making new memories in the future!

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  2. Wonderful memories! And lucky you! ❤️
    I have no bitter feelings when I went to see UV film in October. I was so happy! I think we are lucky to have this in all aspects extraordinary film.

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  3. Yes, another juicy role would be nice! Sigh… The Vanya menory is a bittersweet one but we were among the lucky ones who had the full stage experience plus the recent indulgence…. He’s a real treasure on stage and his choices have been good so far. I saw the reminder tweet of Sonia Friedman productions a while ago – thanks for sharing your memories!

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  4. I didn’t know RA was the first person on stage in UV! (Obviously, I have never read the play.) What a lovely detail to learn now. Oh what a day, thank you for reminiscing in front of all of us. I had tickets for March, too, and that still hurts. Sigh.

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    • Well, he was the first – together with Anna Calder-Marshall. But since I sat on the balcony right, my view was of the left side of the stage, where Astrov stands as the curtain rises. Perfect!

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  5. Lovely memories, Guylty – thanks for sharing them with us. For a moment it felt as if I was there with you in the theatre and at the stage door.

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  6. Thank you for sharing such lovely memories, especially re the stage door “very close encounter” experience *sigh*
    Each time a stage role for Richard is announced, I’m disappointed that I won’t see him, it would be even harder to have to give up that opportunity as so many had to last year because of the virus. I feel thankful that I’ve been able to see him onscreen in two out of the three plays he’s been in.

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    • Yep, I was quite surprised how “close” he was. But it was clearly a one-off because they hadn’t yet erected the crowd control barriers. That’s why RA basically dived into the crowd and we more or less waited for him to come near. Which he did 😍
      The filmed versions of the plays are definitely the next best thing, especially for fans like you who are far away. Now, just imagine RA was part of a touring play… How cool that would be!

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      • RA in a touring play…..we can dream!! When Cate Blanchett was artistic co-director of the Sydney Theatre Company I hoped that RIchard might be a guest artist, courtesy of the networking that being part of the Peter Jackson/Hobbit crew would bring, but no such luck. 😉

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  7. Yes! Yes! Yes! What a glorious evening it was. It was just perfect! Richard was on stage!!!!!! It made me drunken with joy. Really, it was an exhilarating (theatre) experience. I’ve seen the play before, but it hasn’t touched me so deeply as it did there and then. Wanted to move in that splendid stage room right away 😉..and I had the luck and opportunity to attend 4 previews……. Cloud nine!!! Thanks Guylty for sharing this emotional recall. Boy oh boy, is it really a whole year???

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    • You were sitting right behind me there in the theatre, and I remember having to restrain myself from turning around and live commenting on all those things that were happening *haha*.
      The stage set was just amazing. And from where I was sitting, I only saw 80% of it. So much stuff that other people commented on later, had escaped me. Definitely another reason why I need to get cracking on that filmed version…

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    • Yes, and we did not even know how good it all was. Typical, it’s only when privileges are taken away, that we finally understand how lucky we are. I seriously can’t wait to get back to live theatre!

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    • That’s right. When the tickets were released, I was on holiday in the wilds of Ireland together with CraMerry and I had trouble logging on from the middle of nowhere. It all worked out in the end *phew*

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  8. Aoife Hinds was on Celebrity Mastermind tonight, she is a bright girl, she was saying that she has been working with her father on a film and I wondered if that was the reason he was unable to do Uncle Vanya

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