Obviously this was to represent a reassuring and long overdue return for the Whingers to somewhere more akin to their spiritual home and if not to the West End exactly, then at least to the bastion of generously funded proper theatre boasting safety curtains, scenery, proscenium arches and all the other reliable trappings that make a theatre a proper place for theatre.
Yes, after 10 days wandering through the wilderness of the fringe, the prodigal Whingers returned on Shrove Tuesday to the National Theatre to see Burnt By The Sun, based on Nikita Mikhalkov‘s Oscar-winning 1994 film.
And how nice it was to be once again in a world of coat-checks, places to sit in the common areas and numbered seats with corresponding numbers on the tickets. And all in zone 1. We even smiled at the sight of the National’s airline-style signage designed to assess the suitability of one’s handbag for the auditorium.
And, indeed, Burnt By The Sun has almost everything you could want from a piece of theatre. Admittedly there was no Dame of the British Empire, but if you squinted (as Andrew does most of the time) at Anna Carteret you could make do.
But otherwise it was all there: the man hailed by the Whingers as one of London’s finest stage actors (Rory Kinnear), the woman who captivated the Whingers as Eliza at the Old Vic last year (Michelle Dockery), a revolving set (Vicki Mortimer), on-stage food consumption, a marching band, piano playing and tap-dancing, some history, a Channel 4 newsreader sitting behind us, a marvellously informative programme… And yet… and yet….