I have been lucky enough to have gone to Saturday matinees at the theatre for the last two weekends. I am by no means a theatre critic and whilst it may sound indulgent, both are luxury treats.

The first was the Full Monty, my birthday present to my mum, which meant she’d had a fair wait as her birthday is in January. Mum got married very recently to the lovely Ken, this is our first ‘girls out’ since the wedding, we shop and have some lunch before heading to the Arts theatre. There is a buzz, groups of women, alcohol flowing, chatting, laughing and giddy on what’s to come. The theatre is packed, there is the odd male who is with a partner, looking bewildered at being surrounded by women and slightly not at ease; there are women, young and old, groups of granddaughters, daughters and mums, groups of women out to have fun.

Ultimately it is an uplifting story, despite the harsh reality of unemployment and the stories of the men, they overcome adversity. As it goes, in the stage version, their cocks hang in their natural form in the last scene, us women go wild. There are some bittersweet tender moments in the play, each character has its demons to face and as a group of men they build their own support network which bonds them. I sure as hell wouldn’t go starkers in front of a male audience and I am struck by the bottle it must have taken for a group of unemployed steel workers to do it. It is complete entertainment, we both leave laughing as well as having had a tear or  two, everyone is on a high as they make their way out, fun has been had by all.

My second matinee the following Saturday was with Matt and the boys, I decided that we would go and see 1984, as we have only taken the boys to see panto before, I thought that we should expand their experience of the theatre. For the 101 minutes that the play lasted, with no interval I was transfixed by it and immersed by the whole production. The sets, lighting, film, acting were dramatic and yes I guess that is the point! It is a dark book of a dystopian future, Big Brother & Room 101 are features of modern society, they have been formatted into tv shows which reach new audiences. The play resonates, affirms my values, my questioning of authority; as we walk to the bus stop we talk about the play and point out to the boys that our every move since getting to the park and ride earlier has been recorded, our movements traced, our whereabouts known, all stored for safe keeping…but.. by who? For what purposes? We tell them that we are the most surveillance society there is, I start singing “Spying, Lying, there’s no denying, if you cant accept then be discreet”, it is a Hawkind track, the boys are now ashamed of me and totally embarrassed, and are thankful that the bus arrives and they can sit away from me. Matt and me chat about the play and the boys reaction, Toby hadn’t liked the lighting or the loud noises, Hugh although pretending to have been bored had absorbed it. How technology is used, by who, for what purpose etc should be questioned, but as it creeps in, it starts to become invisible. Hughs secondary school, along with many others, use a fingerprint ID system in school, I was spitting feathers at the time and had a long chat with him about what it meant and that I didn’t agree and didn’t want him to have his fingerprint scanned. He on the other hand, did, he understood what I was saying but didn’t have an issue and didn’t want to be different or stand out. It made me realise how quickly technology enables change and how we can easily accept its convenience and ease; whilst not necessarily questioning how or why that technology is being used. It becomes filtered into a black box, that as individuals we place inside without thinking about.

1984 is harsh, it is stark, I hope that by having seen it, if not now, then at some future point, the boys will understand why they got taken to watch it.

 

“You’ll find me in the matinee….you’ll find me in the dark of the matinee….it’s better in the matinee….the dark of the matinee”

Franz Ferdinand: The Dark Of The Matinee