If you’ve been to the theatre even once, you’ll know there are some things you just don’t do – taking pictures is forbidden, Tweeting on your brightly-lit smartphone during the performance is a no-no and you must never, ever attempt to mount the stage.
These are the sacred rules of theatre attendance and breaking them is guaranteed to get you evicted from your expensive West End seat.
So engrained are these rules that even when invited this week by the producers of Once The Musical to do each of these things, it just felt incredibly wrong!
The play, based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name, tells the story of an Irish busker and a young Czech mother who meet through a shared love of music.
A few online media types, including seenit.co.uk, were invited along for a private performance of three songs during which we were invited to Tweet and snap away, sharing our experience with readers and online followers.
At one point the auditorium looked like an iPhone convention, with large glowing screens distracting from some great songs and an enthusiastic cast.
Being given permission to break them made for a fun and novel way of spending an afternoon, but it also proved the rules exist for a reason and long may they continue to be enforced at public performances.
Luckily we were all heading back on Wednesday for a full performance where the usual conventions would apply and we’d get a chance to really enjoy the show.
While you won’t be allowed to wave your iPhone around during the performance, you will be able to go up on stage before the show and during the interval to buy a drink from the bar which makes up most of the set.
Wandering around on stage feels as forbidden as taking pictures and may not appeal to the shy (don’t worry, it’s entirely voluntary), but it’s a very clever and effective way of closing the gap between the characters and audience – combined with the Phoenix Theatre’s snug proportions it blurs the distinction between set and venue.
A review will follow in the next few days, but with its enjoyable, accessible songs and enthusiastic cast, Once makes for a great night out and it’s not surprising that its already fostered an army of repeat attendees.
As a preview of what’s in store, this video (hat tip officiallondontheatre.co.uk), features the cast performing When Your Mind’s Made Up: