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Oleanna

July 3rd, 2004 · No Comments

I made the impulse decision this morning to join a couple of friends to see Oleanna down in London. This particular production has been running for a while at the Garrick Theatre now and stars Julia Stiles (Ten Things I Hate About You, Mona Lisa Smile) and Aaron Eckhart (Possession, Paycheck), the former of whom I was quite keen to see.

We rolled up an hour early and managed to buy the best seats for only £17.50 when they normally cost £52. I’m told that you can do this at practically every single production in both London and the US and it’s the sole reason why most students can afford to see so many plays. I’d always known at the back of my mind that such things like this existed, but they’d always seemed rather remote and time-consuming possibilities instead of the remarkably trouble-free experience I had.

There was very little I knew about the play before it began; I knew it was about sexual harassment in a university, and that you were guaranteed to be intensely frustrated by the end of it. Considering that the total time of the play was a little over an hour, and there were only two actors, it turned out that beyond those two things, there really was very little else to the plot – not that this is meant as a denigration, but simply as a description. It was a highly intense and focused hour, with the two characters constantly interrupting each other (the script supposedly has more ellipses than words in it) in difficult performance.

Neither Stiles nor Eckhart struck me as giving outstanding performances, but then again it seemed to me that the play didn’t really give them the opportunity to show their range beyond anger/frustration and confusion – however, that’s just the way the play was written. Indeed, Eckhart’s self-serving condescension in the first act, and Stiles’ descent into righteous (and confused) fury in the third act left me extremely frustrated, as I’m sure was intended by David Mamet, the playwright.

So, a good experience which I will certainly repeat with all the other plays I can find.

After the play we waited outside the Stage Door to get autographs. Eckhart emerged first, looking particularly drawn but still signing autographs (including one on my ticket). He did disappear quite rapidly though, citing tiredness. Stiles, on the other hand, sneaked out through some other entrance to magic herself into a waiting car no less than five metres behind the crowd awaiting her. For some reason she still seemed quite happy to see all the fans, perhaps because they were behind glass.

This turn of events led me to attribute Aaron Eckhart’s tiredness to the fact that it was his turn to greet the fans, and Julia was in a good mood because she got to sneak out while we were distracted. In any case after Julia disappeared I could be heard exclaiming loudly, “What the hell is this? I didn’t even want Aaron’s autograph, and now Julia’s gone?”

Still, a quick trip to Harrods later saw us happily munching on Krispy Kreme donuts. They are as good as I have been led to believe, and for the benefit of readers I will now explain How To Get Free Donuts from Harrods.

When you stand in line at Krispy Kreme, they give you one free donut anyway. This display of generosity stuns most customers who happily munch away and order large amounts of additional donuts. However, the more savvy among us will realise that the only way the staff know that you have already received a free donut (which they are obligated to give all customers) is if you already have one in your hand.

Clearly, the solution is obvious: on receiving your first donut, immediately make it disappear. Whether it goes into your pocket or a bag or someone else’s bag is immaterial – what matters is that it is rendered invisible as soon as possible. At this point, since the staff are worked quite hard, the person who gave you your first donut will wander off somewhere else and another staff member will offer you additional donuts on seeing that you apparently haven’t been given one yet.

This strategy works best with three people. This allows the first two people to immediately backhand their donuts to the designated Donut Concealer (usually someone with a bag) and also allows for people to rotate around without arousing excessive suspicion, as might occur with larger groups. In a single queue, you can repeat this as many times as you dare; we only managed to get two free donuts each in total but I’m of the opinion we could have managed to get another one if we hid our second donuts as rapidly as our first.

A final word of caution – with great power comes great responsibility. If you get two free donuts each, and then go on to buy another donut, then you have approximately 600-900 kcals of donuts each. This is a rather enormous number of calories which significantly exceeds the amount that a normal person can burn off in a serious one-hour exercise session. Therefore, treat this strategy as more of a one-off trick rather than something to be repeated regularly.

Tags: review · theatre

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