This is my thirteenth blog-post. Today is 13th November so once this is published I shall be on track to succeed in this noblo thingummy.
Thirteen is an interesting number. My husband used to give a school assembly talk about fear of it – triskaidekaphobia. That’s nearly as good a word to learn how to pronounce as prospagnosia. (Wait til tomorrow’s word!)
We live in flat 13, between flats 12 and 14, on the sixth floor. When we first moved in we had a number of problems due to the previous owner being superstitious. As far as some of the utility companies were concerned we lived at flat 613. Trying to get gas reconnected was a trial and part of our delay in moving in was due to land-registry, solicitors and estate agents getting muddled. (yes, really!)
Which brings me on to the whole subject of superstition. It’s bonkers. A number cannot do you harm or be unlucky. A cat crossing road can only be unlucky if it meets a faster moving object. Ladders are not unlucky; it is the people atop of them who drop paint on your head that cause accidents. Likewise touching wood is daft – especially those people who grin before tapping their foreheads in a not altogether ironic gesture.
Trouble is I do it too. Have started saying, “touch formica” occasionally when not wanting to annoy the gods by my hubris.
Worse of all I actually had a bit of a drama queen fit this summer when an actor mentioned “The Scottish Play” during a warm-up on stage in the theatre where we were about to perform that evening! See, I even find it hard to type the play’s name, here on this blog, nowhere near a theatre. I, a total atheist when it comes to conventional religion, insisted that a bemused young actor left the stage, went out of the door, turned round three times and came back in to apologise. In the name of theatrical tradition I became a bully and am not proud of myself.
My first director, the wonderful James Cooper of The Renegades in Ilford, along with a traditional grande dame actress, Lila Myra in the same company, insisted that mentioning Macbeth (deep breath, I’ve mentioned it put it in bold, there now!) and whistling in the dressing room was unlucky. Jimmie, who also thought it a nonsense, explained that as there were so many things that could go wrong in a live performance it was always best not to tempt fate and if one member of the company was to feel uneasy, that could affect the whole show. It was, he said, a harmless tradition, to walk, turn and say sorry. He didn’t need actors to feel insecure.
So there you have it. Indoctrination will always raise its head in the strangest of situations.
However, accidents do happen on stage. Gels fall from gobo lights, sets wobble, doors jam and chair legs crack.
Which brings me to my final point. If you like to laugh, if you can suspend belief, if you have ever seen something amiss on stage or been in a play where a sound cue has failed to materialise or if you have been stage-managing a play where an actor has genuinely needed a prompt, then go to see “The Play That Goes Wrong.” It is incredibly silly and I think we all need some “silly” in our lives.
PS In case I don’t get round to writing proper reviews, I found “Great Britain” and “Made In Dagenham” equally entertaining; both Richard Bean scripts and yes, I am planning on stalking him properly – eventually.