I first went to the theatre alone almost two years ago now and while the situation didn’t terrify me, it certainly wasn’t the way that I liked to do it at the time. There was something about going alone that intimidated me and made me feel like I was being watched, much like how I assume people feel when they go out to eat alone (which, incidentally, also comes hand in hand with solo theatregoing). I didn’t reprise my stint of going to the theatre alone until I went to New York last summer and it was that experience which made me fall in love with it. American theatre audiences are so much more talkative and interactive with one another than they are in London, which made me feel so much less self-conscious about it.
When I saw Kristin Chenoweth in On The Twentieth Century, I ended up sitting next to a group of ladies who had come in together from New Jersey for a Saturday matinee. They didn’t say much before the show had started but in the interval, the woman next to me struck up conversation and we chatted for ages about our different home countries and more. It was lovely to feel so embraced in a place that I didn’t think I could feel any more welcomed by than I already had been and it changed my perspective forever. And now, it’s a situation that I actually prefer.
There’s something about going to the theatre alone which satisfies me so much more now that I have a much bigger perspective when it comes to what I’m watching. I understand it so much more and I appreciate what I’m seeing more than I ever have done before and seeing the show alone makes that really personal. I like how going to the theatre alone means that I don’t have to worry about how the other person is feeling or when they want to go home, I can just do the evening how I want to do it – and that’s even more fun when you do a whole two-show day by yourself. I don’t even have to leave the theatre feeling like their opinion on the show has in any way impacted mine because I have no one to bicker with about it afterwards – I just got to share that experience with myself and I absolutely loved it.
Granted this may sound slightly strange, but I’ve always loved doing things alone much more than I enjoyed it in bigger groups. I guess it comes from growing up as an only child for over a decade of my life but I’m so easily satisifed by my own company and thoughts that going to the theatre alone is incredibly enjoyable. Having said that, I do still prefer seeing musicals with other people: there’s nothing quite like skipping through dusky London after a good musical and singing the songs at the top of your lungs – and doing that alone does look a little bit too weird, even for me.
While time may well have taught me the joys of theatregoing alone, what do you think? Would you go and see a matinee of Curious Incident on your own, or would you rather team up with another person? In my eyes, it’s a way of seeing theatre that I’m so glad I discovered. Not only does it make booking tickets for shows so much easier, but it makes watching them so much more personal as well.