The theatre box office assistant suggests we may want to upgrade our tickets by paying an extra £15 apiece. For this princely sum, we can move from "the gods" high up in the very roof of the Savoy Theatre to either
the stalls or the Dress Circle.
Why is the Dress Circle so called? Is it because this was where you sat when you had "dressed to impress"? In which case, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I - for,
yes, she is my theatre companion, as on so many occasions over the last eighteen months - have fallen at the first hurdle. Not that we aren't perfectly presentable, I hasten to say, but impressively dressed we are not. No tiaras for us.
We hover, indecisively, in the foyer. The girl in the box office sighs as she waits for us to make up our minds. Shall we, shan't we? It only needs one of us to show a bit of resolve and the other will immediately agree. We never argue
over such matters, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I. Life is, indeed, too short. In the end, because there are other people behind us in the queue and we are feeing guilty, we decide to turn down the kind offer and take our chances with seats 15
and 16 in Row G of the Upper Circle, for which we have paid the princely sum of £20 each. We will spend the remainder of the afternoon pondering on the wisdom of our joint decision-making.
will know that it was the Youngest of the Darling Daughter's grand idea that, in a bid to give me time off from caring duties, we should meet up every couple of months for a Lunch and Theatre date. These occasions are Red Letter Days in my diary to be (i)
eagerly anticipated; (ii) thoroughly enjoyed; and (iii) long remembered. We are becoming seasoned theatre goers, my daughter and I, working our way through the musicals in the West End with true grit, determination and enthusiasm. I mention this because, when
you visit West End theatres as often as we do, you tend to have one eye ever on a bargain. Hence our lofty seats for Dream Girls and our subsequent indecision over an upgrade.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters
has risen from her sick bed, where she has spent the past four miserable days, to keep our date. Like her mother, she can't bear to miss out on anything. She looks pale and fragile but bravely so, like the heroine of some theatrical melodrama. Think Whatsername
in Phantom of the Opera. I am glad that she has been accompanied on her train journey to London by her sister, the Middle of the Darling Daughters, who has a work engagement in the capitol. They look after each other, these daughters of mine.
We walk across Waterloo Bridge to find the theatre and the M of the DDs takes a photo of we two theatre-goers with the London Eye in the background. The Youngest Daughter checks it out (the photo, not the London Eye, don't
be silly) to make sure she doesn't look too much like Death Warmed Up. Her sister and I are fervent in our reassurances.
The Savoy Theatre is tucked in, somewhat unexpectedly, next to the Savoy Hotel. Taxis
arrive in a continuous stream, disgorging passengers, complete with expensive luggage, onto the pavement outside the hotel. How the other half lives! we marvel to ourselves before engaging in a brief debate as to whether we should perhaps dine at the Savoy.
This debate reaches a satisfactory conclusion when my daughter reminds me how much we enjoyed the quiche served up at the nearby Café Rouge on a previous visit. Quiche it is! The Savoy will have to wait until another time...
Our seats in "the gods" are pleasingly central but there is a guard rail blocking our view of the front of the stage. We console ourselves that not much of the action will take place at the very front of the stage. Will it?
What we lose in terms of view, we gain by being surrounded by quite the most vocally enthusiastic audience ever. They know every word of every song, they are there (metaphorically) on stage with the star of the show,
Amber Riley, every step of the way. They are willing her on as she belts out songs of love and loss. I'm sure it would have been much more sedate - and nowhere near as much fun - in the Dress Circle.
we would linger on after the show for a coffee and more chat - but my poorly daughter looks like she needs to be home. We say our goodbyes and each catch an earlier train than planned. I worry about her all the way home.
I needn't have fretted. Enter stage left (as they say in theatrical circles, Dress or otherwise) Hazel Bagel, the daughter of my daughter. She surrounds her mother with love, gives her healing hugs and entertains her with tales of the Life of Hazel.
I am so very glad my daughter has a daughter who is always there for her.
Just as she has always been there for me.