Voting With My Feet. 8 November 2012 On the evening of the US election, appropriately enough, I voted with my feet and walked out of a show.

I can't remember the last time I did this. I literally could not take any more. It was a real 'life's too short to put up with one moment more of this' moment. In the distant past, whether I was enjoying something or not, taking my seat was a show-long commitment. Nothing could be properly judged if it had not been experienced in full. And in some cases, anything can happen in that last half hour/twenty minutes/five minutes/curtain call.


Time for an analogy. When your team is four nil down with ten minutes to go, what do you do? You stay until the bitter end of course. You accept defeat. You endure humiliation. You stand by your team to the bitter end, right? Not everyone, no. To taunts of 'we can see you sneaking out' some fans know when to call it a day, beat the rush, get an extra 'Let's drown our sorrows shall we?' round in at the local boozer and miss the kids' bath time. Hell, you can always catch the final whistle/score on your phone and, later on, re-live the lowlights on Match of the Day. Why put yourself through misery at the actual game? Of course you could pull one back, get a last minute penalty, send your keeper up and only be one goal down in the time it takes to get to your car. Then you’ll be sorry, won’t you?

It is possibly only in the last few years that I have taken to abandoning a book if I’m not enjoying it. What a revelation that was. Why endure when you can move on and enjoy? This isn't school, there won't be a test. You're doing this for pleasure, remember?

Usually I book tickets to a show because I am pretty sure I will enjoy it. But you can't always be sure. If you decide to take a punt on something and make that commitment, what happens when it turns out to be pretentious nonsense?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm actually quite partial to a healthy helping of pretentious nonsense now and then, but it still has to be good pretentious nonsense. Many's the time I've sat uncomfortably glued to my seat enduring something abstract and European (yes, I'm talking about YOU Romeo Castellucci), enjoying the fact that others are fleeing in droves, amused by their lack of tolerance and low pain thresholds. Laughing at them a little bit (in a moronically superior way), pleased that theatre still has the ability to shock some people, even if I'm not one of them.

Last night, I was one of those people. And even as I had decided that enough was bloody well enough, I started to think about what people might think about me walking out.

A female actor, predictably, got her tits out and two people on the second row walked. 'Shit,' I thought,' I'm not like them. I can handle a small pair of tits.' So to speak. I had to wait another painful 15 minutes for the right moment. There was still some gratuitous nudity going on, but at least it was no longer the centre of attention. Time to make a quick getaway.

'Scuse me, sorry...' two more steps and I'm free. No, push don't pull, that's it, phew, we're out, it was easy. Crash! went the closing door. Perhaps this could be interpreted as a protest door slam, at least now I wasn’t on display. Walking out needn't be about making a public point and it must be horrible for the poor actors to see. It's just that, we'll it was either that or start throwing rotten tomatoes, and I didn't have any with me.

The show had the last laugh though. I left my scarf in my seat - couldn't very well go back for it, could I?

Clair Chamberlain

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