The effect of masks on a Broadway play

Last night, my brother and I went to see The Lehman Trilogy

Everyone in the jammed, somewhat chaotic lobby wore masks. The masked ticket takers did not take tickets; they accepted only phone-based tickets. A woman in front of us couldn’t find her tickets on her phone; her husband yelled at her. They were both wearing masks.

The Nederlander Theater is, like most elegant, old New York theaters, steeply pitched. If you have seats in the balcony, you must climb and climb. And then descend down or ascend up steep stairs to your seat. Wearing masks. The masks did not interfere with the ascents or descents, which are accomplished by the feet and legs, not the face.

An usher possessed of a theatrically stentorian voice and a sense of wit, wrangled the herd waving a paddle printed on which was a mask-wearing order. She had sharp eyes behind her mask; she saw a transgressor in the second row and thumped down to tell him, “Young man! Young man! Pull up your mask!” We all could hear her, even through her mask.

He mumbled some objection — he was drinking a soda — and she said, “No,” and instructed him in the method to be used while drinking: you pull your mask up slightly above your mouth, insert the straw, sip and then pull your mask down to cover your mouth.

We were sitting on the aisle. As she passed us in her ascent, she said, “Sometimes I wish I could use this paddle!” We laughed.

As at Lincoln Center, the mask did not interfere with intermission peeing.

The only restriction I observed was this: often, Broadway show audiences contain famous people. I myself spotted a couple of people whose foreheads and hair seemed familiar but no further ID was possible.

Nobody was protesting mask wearing.

Brief review of the play: the set and stage effects are marvelous. The first scene is quite lovely and promises a warm, dynastic story about emigrant Jews.

The stage curtain is black. Before the first act began, upon the curtain was projected, in white letters, “Part One, The Lehman Trilogy; Three Brothers.” The audience applauded. The curtain. With the writing. Before the second act, the curtain announced “Part Two…” et cetera. My brother whispered, “Are they going to applaud this?”

They did. And they applauded the curtain before the third act, too.

A mystery of life. All masked.

This entry was posted in The Facts of Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.