Leave Boris alone – confusing mask rules stifle return of the theater


Andrew Lloyd Webber said this week that low levels of mask wear in theaters are a problem and that he would like to introduce mandatory masks at his six West End locations. Is there a reluctance among many to return to the movies due to health issues? Panto this year has been hit by the drop in bookings – according to the Audience Agency, monitoring sales at more than 340 English sites, the number of tickets purchased in the last week of October was 473,807 compared to the 715,210 the same week in 2019 – a drop of 34 percent.

But for every person delayed going to the theater because wearing a mask is not a reliable part of the experience, there must be those who buy tickets on the basis that they won’t be forced to cover up. and hate the idea of ​​being suffocated for hours.

While it won’t win me any favors from the die-hard Boris bashers, perhaps the Prime Minister’s unscheduled photoshoot sends a message that is needed under the circumstances. This is the guy who on March 16, 2020 abruptly lowered the curtain advising people not to go to the movies. Now, amid a legion of other calls on his time, he’s opted for an intimate venue and a killing show for a ticket.

It’s a statement of commitment to the performing arts in London – which, thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund, are well positioned to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. More fundamentally, it is the application of Johnson’s star quality (no, really) to an activity that is crucial to our “spiritual” health. Yes, he once again got people arguing and complaining. But just as importantly, it may have reached people who thought that the theater was off-limits and persuaded them that it was time to venture there.


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