Tuesday. 7.30pm. Part of my birthday celebrations is a trip to see Wicked: The Musical. Feel unsure about anything to do with a lady the colour of Slimer from Ghostbusters. It also doesn't help that everyone tells me, 'Yeah, it's wicked; get it?' No. I. Do. Not.
Arrive at the theatre looking like the Michelin Man. Hope that every layer of clothing I wear is another degree of cold I can endure. Take that minus 2 degrees Celsius!
As I unravel from my winter armour, we approach the foyer. Walls, ceiling, floor- and all the people in between- bathe in emerald green. The glow distorts faces to sinister, demented levels. All men, women, children and teens look like The Riddler. Wonder if I'll have to solve a puzzle to find my seat.
With minutes before the curtain rises, I take in my surroundings. Red velvet seats and gold leaf décor. Crystal chandeliers proudly hang from arched ceilings. How do they change those light bulbs? Soon, hundreds of conversations rise up and float down- a chorus of murmurs and shouts. There is a smell- a theatre smell- of polish and something else, something unfathomable. You only know it when you are there.
With the strangeness of strangers, I am transported to how it used to be. Rows of bow ties and ball-gowns. Suited men with ruler spines selling ice cream in the aisle. Suddenly, there's a shriek in my ear. Two guys wearing misjudged Christmas jumpers are jostled and spill beer on my friend. They laugh, while she's left smelling like a brewery. Oh well. At least her hair's shiny...
The lights flicker, the noise falls. And then the math happens. One bottle of birthday wine + warm theatre = sleepy head. My chest is the refrigerator, my chin the magnets. I am disturbed by a fierce clatter of cymbals that jolts me too high to be cleverly disguised as a body stretch. A giggle escapes from behind.
As I prop my eyelids with fingers and thumbs, hoards of school kids pour in from all directions to ruin a song and my perfect stage view. Boy with World's Longest Neck provides me with half a show. A talking goat and a few winged-monkeys later and I wish I had something to throw at his head; a bucket of popcorn or maybe just a bucket. Nah. That would be too wicked. Get it?
Soon enough, it's over. My needle hands sting from clapping longer than advised even though, for the most part, I have no idea what I'm clapping for. I am robotic, following the crowd. They've enjoyed it. The flash of green lights, a blonde who looks suspiciously like Cinderella and a Wicked Witch who is, as it turns out, not so wicked. Imagine that.