Like most middle-class parents, I feel duty-bound to take my children to the theatre occasionally. Why is this? I tell myself it is a way of broadening their horizons, but really it is all about class. It is the same reason I encourage them to play with wooden toys and eat broccoli and say ‘please’. I want to have nice, middle-class children so people will think I’m a nice, middle-class man.
Judging from my trip to see Peter Pan last week with my son and daughter, the whole enterprise is doomed. ‘Will it be in 3D daddy?’ asked six-year-old Sasha as we strolled across Kensington Gardens.
‘Yes, of course it will. This is live theatre, remember? We’re not going to the cinema.’
‘Will we have to wear those funny glasses?’
‘What? No. And stop picking your nose.’
I told them beforehand that talking in the theatre was verboten, but they soon forgot this when the curtain went up. It quickly became obvious that this is quite an ambitious production of Peter Pan, with no expenses spared. For instance, the character of Nana the dog is not played by a man in a fur suit, but is an elaborate marionette operated by a puppeteer clad in a black bodysuit. This plunged four-year-old Ludo into confusion.
‘Daddy?’ he asked in a voice that could be heard in the balcony. ‘Why is that man standing behind the dog?’
‘You’re not supposed to be able to see him,’ I whispered.
‘Can you see him?’
‘Well, yes, I can, but I’m pretending I can’t.’
‘Just watch the show, OK? And stop picking your nose.’
He didn’t stay silent for long. The next character to appear on stage was Tinkerbell.