From the return of The Mousetrap to an abundance of monologues, theatre is making a comeback – just don’t expect an interval ice-cream
It is late July, and Beverley Knight is about to sing her heart out on the London Palladium stage. Everyone in the audience wears masks and, around them, rows of empty seats are marked with an X. This is the first time a London theatre has opened its doors since March and it’s all a little surreal. Theatre-going won’t look or feel the same post-Covid-19 but, then again, what will? After months of catastrophic closures, it’s just a relief to see UK theatres tentatively opening their (heavily sanitised) doors to the public once again.
This autumn sees a small cluster of theatrical openings across the country, and each comes laden with caveats and conditions in order to meet the government’s ever-shifting guidelines. All venues will play at a much-reduced capacity, group bookings are only permitted within social “bubbles”, and in many theatres Perspex screens have been dotted throughout the stalls. Oh, and the number of available toilet stalls is being reduced, which – given the chronic lack of toilets in London’s theatres – should be, well, interesting.