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John, National Theatre or why I left a play at the 2nd interval

John_2160x2160I'm not a quitter. Well I am, sometimes. I very, very occasionally walk out of plays at the interval - ones I've paid for that is, never when I've been asked to review.

There have been occasions when I've just been really tired, busy at work and the pull of heading home and crawling under the duvet outweighs the need to find out what happens or see the story through.

If I'm really into a play, it doesn't matter how tired I am. Very occasionally something will just be poor quality but most likely it will be a lack of engagement, a lack of care or interest in the characters or story or what the play is trying to say that has me heading for the door, rather than the quality of the acting or production.

It happens with books too. If I'm not yearning to find out what happens next, looking forward to my precious pre-bed reading time then it gets spiked and I move onto something else.

My philosophy is that life is just too short. There isn't enough time to see everything I want to see and read everything I want to read so why waste time on something I'm not really enjoying when I could be spending it on something I might love.

I left the play John at the second interval this week. There were some great moments - mostly involving the character Genevieve - but the bits in between just left me unmoved.

The pace of the play is slow and it is subtle - and I don't have a problem with subtlety - but I increasingly found myself questioning what I was intrigued about. What did I want to stay to find out? What was holding my interest?

And the answer was 'nothing'. If I left before the end I wouldn't be mulling over how things panned out or what it was illuminating or how it made me feel or what it made me think about.

In fact what it made me think about was how if I left before the end I'd be home a lot earlier and I could do the washing up and tidy the flat and still be in bed at a reasonable time. That wasn't a good sign.

I know I bang on about long plays but it did play a part - if it's going to be a late night during the week it's got to be worth it, it's got to hold my attention, intrigue, be gripping or entertaining. And this didn't tick any of those boxes for the most part.

Not everything connects with everyone but I still feel I should apologise. Sorry John.

John is at the National Theatre until March 3. It's three hours and 20 minutes long including two intervals.