“I don’t use social media and I’d really appreciate it if you did tweet, blog, hashtag the shit out of this one for me. I don’t mind this, this is part of it, photographs, whatever, outside — fine. But Inside I can see cameras, I can see red lights in the auditorium. And it may not be any of you here that did that but it’s blindingly obvious. It’s mortifying. I don’t want that to happen,”
So spake Benedict Cumberbatch outside the stage door to fans who had been filming his performance in Hamlet.
It does give pause for thought. What is going on in the heads – I don’t say minds – of people who would so distract an actor? More to the point, what were such morons doing at a performance of Hamlet in the first place?
I venture it’s because Cumberbatch is their pin up boy: a man they are accustomed to seeing on the telly in parts that are a million miles from Shakespeare.
They weren’t there for the bard but only for the theatrical crumpet.
I may be right if Kate Maltby, writing in The Times is correct. She says, “This production is Hamlet for kids brought up on Moulin Rouge.”
I can believe that Kate: I’ve sat through Hamlet designed for kids brought up on The Flowerpot Men and Macbeth for those raised on Sabrina the Teenage Witch
I usually assume that some actions are simply unthinkable – such as deliberately driving on the wrong side of the road or slipping rat poison into your little sister’s orange juice. Flashing red lights in the eyes of an actor going about his trade is such a thing.
Not these days. Not in the dumbed-down, infantilised, gadgeteered phantasmagoria that passes for real life. Here there is no room for etiquette. It’s worse: I bet those gormless fans were – as they would put it gobsmacked – when their favourite actor took them to task. They wouldn’t have dreamed they were doing anything wrong.
There is an ever-increasing section of society made up of people who are not fit to be let out, because they are so ill-equipped for social life and maladjusted to it.
And it’s not just the kids, addicted as they are to their phones and Facebooks and Twittering. You can’t go to the theatre or pictures unless it’s to the accompaniment of people of all ages talking, giggling and eating and drinking noisily and ostentatiously throughout.
Sometimes it’s the so called grown up people who are the worst.
Two old ladies behind me at a concert in Eastbourne – and talking all through the Haydn slow movement.
What a falling off there has been! What words are there to describe the public realm these days?
A foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. Sound and fury signifying nothing, but spoiling everything. O brave new world that hath such people in it!