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Enron and Other Places I’ve Been Annoyed by the Audience

There’s been talk of some pretty crazy behavior in Broadway theaters recently.  I’ve even witnessed some of it firsthand.  I actually thought that nothing could irritate me more than the wasted Green Day fans beside me at a recent showing of American Idiot, singing along so loudly I could hardly hear the cast and swaying their vodka cranberries in the air as if they were lighters.

And then I went to see a preview performance of Lucy Prebble’s new play, Enron, and I was proved completely wrong.  Because as the lights on darkened on Norbert Leo Butz for the final time and applause was barely beginning to erupt, I watched tons of people burst out of their seats and stumble over other patrons in a rush to get to the aisle and run out of the theater.  Before the curtain call.  My blood actually started to boil.  I scoffed loudly.

Were they kidding?

Now.  I’ve been known to make a mad dash for the ladies room at intermission when time is short and lines are often long.  (One particularly memorable sprint past the mezzanine bar in the Hirschfeld prompted a staff member to call after me: “Get it!  Get it!”)  And I could even understand not returning after intermission if a show was really that bad.  But sprinting out of the theater before curtain call?  Really? Do that many of you have bladder control issues?  Is it that far past your bedtime?  Are you going to turn into a pumpkin?

I find that upsetting in general.  But I find it particularly offensive given the quality of the work we had just seen on stage in the Broadhurst Theater.  Lucy Prebble told a story so Shakespearean it seemed almost impossible it could be real, and her rapid-fire, Aaron Sorkin-esque dialogue was wonderful.  (Really, she’s a Brit?)  Rupert Goold’s direction and staging made inventive use of a fairly stark set and symbolic props and the cast—featuring  Norbert Leo Butz, Stephen Kunken, Marin Mazzie and Gregory Itzin—turned in top notch performances.  As Jeffery Skilling and Andy Fastow, Norbert and Stephen gave especially powerful and nuanced performances which were absolutely applause-worthy.

I know that taste is taste—it is subjective, and what does it for me might not do it for you, or anyone else for that matter.  But I’m pretty sure this impatient mass exodus had little or nothing to do with the quality of the work and much more to do with the selfish desire to be the first ones to the Icon Parking Garage down the block.  And I think that’s a real shame.  Forget about the fact that it’s rude, not just to the actors on that stage, but to the patrons you’re knocking over in your haste to leave.  Call me crazy, but I’d rather deal with drunken fans singing along with the show—at least that displays some kind of appreciation for the work of art before us.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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