I take my seat. It’s a good one—not too creaky, so I won’t disturb those with my ever-shifting bodily positioning needs.
The Karens find their seats seconds before the show. Three of them. One hobbles to her chair in a boot, perhaps a lingering Bunko injury?
A brief admission: reader, my mom played Bunko numerous times when I was but a lad. I have no idea what it is or how it works. I think dice are involved? It’s funnier if I don’t Google it.
The middle Karen’s aura reeks of “leader.” She is the glue by which these three are bound. Boot-leg Karen and GeneriKaren would never hang out alone. Their friendship is tenuous at best, and could snap beneath the weight of time spent together without their benevolent Leader Karen.
The third Karen strikes me as the oldest of the bunch, and she seems to live in service of the Leader and Boot-leg, the latter of which I can only assume is Leader Karen’s lackey, the Smee to her Captain Hook. Of the three, she has the fewest defining features, earning her the GeneriKaren moniker.
The show will soon begin. Into The Woods, a layered network of complex musical ideas and lyrics. Into The Woods contains multitudes. It also contains our friend Ann, a phenomenal performer playing one of Cinderella’s devilish step-sisters in this production.
The announcer begins his short pre-show spiel. “Tonight, the role of Constant Distraction will be played by Three Karens sitting right in front of Cole.”
Applause from the peanut gallery as I thank gods I don’t believe in for reminding me to take my anxiety meds that morning.
GeneriKaren strikes first, opening her phone. It shines a brilliant white light in our vicinity, and I miss the bulk of the opening number as GeneriKaren snaps a few blurry pics of (I assume) her granddaughter.
The show continues. “I wish…more than anything” sing the characters, reflecting my very yearnings at this moment. Would that I could wish upon a nebulous fairy-tale power-that-be and whisk the three Karens into an alternate universe where their pre-show unlimited breadsticks gave them vicious diarrhea so they couldn’t attend. Alas, here they are.
Boot-leg Karen makes the first of many moves. She begins by turning her head toward Leader Karen three times in syncopation. The fourth time, she speaks. It is a whisper, faint and inaudible, but Leader Karen isn’t one to leave her subjects waiting. Leader Karen leans in, responding in full voice, though the words are drowned out by the (wonderful and talent-filled) performances I paid REAL MONEY to see. They continue their dance, whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears until my wife—a saint—shushes them.
Oh, but the Karens seem to think—preposterously—that the shush is a bigger slight than the distracting conversation they’re having. They groan and (I assume) roll their eyes, but they relent. Boot-leg Karen shifts in her seat constantly, though I try to give her grace in these moments. The Bunko injury is not to be trifled with, after all.
Intermission brings two of my favorite parts of any theater production: a potty break and a mid-performance discussion of the show’s quality up till now. How were they, you ask? Great (relieving), though the urinal line had to be right next to the sinks due to the poor construction of the bathroom. I got some dirty looks for giving up and peeing in the sink. As for the check-in, also great! The show was fantastic, the performances unilaterally wonderful. Our friend Ann flaunts her deft grasp of comedic timing and delivery in her role.
“My favorite part,” I say to my wife and our friend, “Is the three ladies in front of us.”
They roll their eyes in solidarity.
There’s a funny thing about intermissions. They seem to wipe clean the slate, both onstage and in the surrounding area. Our characters all appear to have accomplished their goals and achieved their happy endings. As have I: quiet but shifting Karens are a surmountable obstacle.
However, intermission has wiped their minds of their transgressions, and they have full-throated conversations in front of us mere seconds into the second act. Another shush, another groan.
What, I wonder, could be so important that it must yield a full conversation in the middle of a show we all paid to see? Perhaps the Karens are predicting how these well-known fairy tale stories will turn out, lacing their predictions with sarcasm because their children and grandchildren have seen all the Disney movies. Perhaps Boot-leg Karen has an itch and requires Leader Karen to ask GeneriKaren for a stick with which to scratch it.
Or perhaps there’s nothing—nothing—that makes it worth their while to distract those sitting around them. But they don’t Kare. And I feel nothing bu Agony:
Holy ever-living FUCK do I hate theater talkers. Disrespectful to the audience and the performers. And you bought tickets to this thing? Don’t you want to watch it? Shut the fuck up and enjoy the show.
I am writing a heck of a lot lately! Enjoy some highlights from the Kingdom of Cole!
New byline! Lots of articles at BallIsLife.com. Enjoy!
Five Fantastical Musical Experiences You Can Find In The Real World
That’s all for this week. Remember: shut the fuck up if you’re at a theater show!
Till next time!
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Multitudes Jerry!!! Multitudes!!!!!