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Weirdest Audience Behavior Ever, Perhaps -- Betrayal Wednesday Night
Posted by: TKTSVET 07:54 pm EDT 09/13/19

I've seen hundreds and hundreds of Broadway plays over the past 55 years, with many strange occurrences -- heart attacks, actors being knocked unconscious, scenery crashing on stage, drunk audience members, audience members eating an entire fried chicken meal center orchestra, drunks, loud snorers, a fistfight or two, etc. -- but this left me speechless. My friend and I were in Row B, seats 1-3 in the Jacobs. there were two seats in front of us, both occupied, and two seats to the left of us -- only the one next to my companion was occupied, by a young woman in her early thirties, who was very well dressed and coiffed. We thought the strangest thing that was going to happen was a cell phone going off in the first four seconds of the show, but no.

Betrayal is a very quiet play, with silent moments throughout, and for the most part the audience was very quiet as well (no further cell phone disruptions). We both started noticing that every time Tom Hiddleston said something provocative, our row mate would let out a large laugh, somewhat out of cadence with the rest of the audience. A little further into the play (there is no intermission) she changed positions so that she was facing sideways in her seat with her body facing us and her head turned toward the stage (we initially assumed that she was uncomfortable in the seat). Not long thereafter, I could hear and my companion could feel a rhythmic banging against his armrest, punctuated by occasional low moans and giggles (not loud, but the women in front of me turned around a bunch of times with a puzzled look on her face). The rhythmic banging got faster and faster, until finally there was one slightly louder "Ha" and she resumed normal seat position, put her head back and closed her eyes. This attracted the attention of the people behind us and the man sitting in front of her, who shortly thereafter left his seat and was never seen again. We thought this bizarre incident was over, but lo and behold, as Tom Hiddleston got closer to downstage right and was kissing the female character, our row mate assumed the position again and once more started the process up, with another final "Ha" and nap. She woke up for the bows, stood and clapped enthusiastically and then exited quickly. There really is no question in our minds or the mind of the woman sitting in front of us what had happened.

We really just didn't know what to do -- if we left to get an usher it would have been very disturbing to the mood in the house, and what exactly would we say and what exactly could the usher do? Her noises and actions were sufficiently quiet and furtive that only we in the corner knew what was happening. Should we have reported it? She could easily deny it. And what on earth could the theatre do in any event? And what if, God forbid, we misinterpreted her actions, although it is hard for me to imagine that we did.

By the way, the show really was wonderful and the cast first rate. But you might want to avoid seat B-3.
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