But first, the interval. Hungry?
After the experience of the lambent Robert Wilson/Rufus Wainwright Sonnets shenanigans, and before we get to grip with adolescent passions in Spring Awakening, a short intermission.
Wouldn't want you to think that the monkey is starry eyed about all things Berliner Ensemble, but furry caps must be doffed and forelocks tugged in the direction of the interval snacks. This is, for many, a vexed question. How substantial is the ideal interval nibble? A morsel? A meal? At the Royal Opera House, where the intervals frequently out-length the ballets, there's time for waiter-service meal options. The Glyndebourne experience, of course, is constructed around the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely fête champêtre, from canapé to after-dinner-mint. Janacek can wait.
Most of us don't think to take a lobster along when we go to the theatre. Let's move swiftly away from the slavering exploitation racket that is the West End theatre bar (hand over your watch, yank out your better fillings and you might just scrape together the cost of a small, sharp white wine). Even more civilised venues don't offer more than the odd nut or crisp, with ice cream and chocs for the sweet of tooth. The oddest interval sight, to my British eyes, was at the Naples Opera House, where a pride of sleek-dressed Neapolitans queued for those dry staples of 1970s cheese and wine parties, Tuc biscuits and Ritz crackers. Elegantly extended fingernails, shaped all the better to rip plastic, tore into the little packages for an ungarnished nibble. La dolce vita could wait.
Nonetheless, something savoury would be good; not heavy but enough to stop your stomach grumbling through the play's most poignant moments. The Berliner Ensemble had some classy offerings - lovely yeasty pretzels and thick cheese straws, soft and salty and strangely satisfying. I like to think the recipes might descend directly from Helene Weigel (Brecht's wife and the first Mother Courage; Brecht Haus offers samples of her Austrian cuisine).
Back in London, Shakespeare's Globe has hazelnut shells embedded in the pit floor, as a tribute to the Elizabethans' snack of choice, while Restoration theatres were known for the orange girls, selling their juicy favours during a performance. But what would the perfect interval bite consist of? I'd put in a word for a cup of soup - something warming, demi-filling, like smooth pumpkin or creamy mushroom. But how about you, belly-rumbling culture vultures? What might sate your hunger and also sharpen your attention?
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