Friday, May 30, 2014

Bloody little boxes and some gothic paranoia

What hath My Cousin Rachel wrought?

Posted by Jon Santiago on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge Royal_Drury_Lane_1813_dagger.jpg

I got to thinking about this after enjoying the Gate Theatre’s delightfully macabre gothic thriller, My Cousin Rachel presented at the Dock Theatre. It’s this: in theatrical venues, the box seats creep me out.

Box seats for the game? Are you serious? Thank you very much! (And yes, I will have a few more of those delicious little whats-its that’ve been making the rounds. Lovely!)

But theatre boxes? Whole other deal.

In my overactive imagination, they inhabit a realm of Lovecraftian, Edgar Allan Poe-ish skin-crawling malevolence that has no equal. Who knows what dark, twisted schemes — what evil! — lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows. Oh, yeah. And he’s up there in that theatre box. I gare-on-tee.

Put this architectural paranoia down to a couple factors: actual historical linkages between theatre boxes and assassination, etc. and, of course, popular culture.

In novels and movies, nearly every bad thing that takes place in a theatre happens in one of those damned boxes. Heinous revelations revealed, trysts gone horribly awry, and murders. Oh! all sorts of murders. (Okay, I do read far too many mysteries and thrillers, obviously.)

Yet I put it to you, for your consideration, that it is in the very nature of the theatre box that wicked machinations are already present for they inhabit even the walls of those wretched things.

Look at them. Consider. The box, especially in grand old theaters, is often enclosed. There’s no getting out, people. Should madness suddenly present itself at that threshold between you, honest, unsuspecting theatergoer, and that one and only, blessed exit — where are you gonna go? Nowhere. That’s where.

The dagger in the heart. The bullet in the back. The champagne bottle on the noggin. The screaming tumble into the cheap seats below as an unseen hand pitches you over to your demise. You name it. I’ve imagined it.

I say to you, good people: Nay! Ask me not to the theatre box! Coward that I am, I have died a thousand deaths there already, if only in my mind.

And woe betide you if that box lies in your future. For you, my head sinks in solemn dread of this, your fate. (sigh!)

I beg you.

Don’t. Do. It.

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