How long until we see something like this in church?
We can’t count the number of times we’ve wanted to enact vengeance on some inconsiderate audience member whose cell phone goes off during a performance. But, like most people, we just bottle that fury up deep down inside and take it out on the break room vending machine later. Not Kevin Williamson. Last night the National Review writer was in attendance at the marvelous new musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 when one theatergoer’s incessant cell phone use finally drove him over the edge… into vigilantism.
The stellar production—a swinging cabaret-type musical adaptation loosely adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace—takes place inside a luxuriant carnival tent nestled next to the Standard High Line. The audience is closely clustered at small tables throughout the room, and while there is food and beverage service before the show and during intermission, the performance itself takes place with zero table service interruptions, and the atmosphere is as quiet and attentive as any other conventional stage play. At least it’s supposed to be.
Although each table is explicitly told that photography and cell phone use is strictly prohibited during the performance, the people seated around Williamson were, he says, unbearable. “They were carrying on a steady conversation throughout entire show,” Williamson, who also writes a theater column for New Criterion, tells us. “They had been quite loud and obnoxious the entire time. There were two groups, one to the left and one to the right who were being loud and disruptive.”
During intermission, Williamson’s date complained to the theater’s management, but he says he didn’t personally witness the theater managers admonish the disruptive audience members. And once the performance resumed, the woman sitting to Williamson’s right on his bench would not, he says, stop using her cell phone. “It looked like she was Googling or something,” Williamson tells us. “So I leaned over and told her it was distracting and told her to put it away. She responded, ‘So don’t look.’ ”
Blood boiling, Williamson says he then asked her, sarcastically, “whether there had been a special exemption for her about not using her phone during the play. She told me to mind my own business, and so I took the phone out of her hands. I meant to throw it out the side door, but it hit some curtains instead. I guess my aim’s not as good as it should be.” Asked if the phone was damaged, Williamson says, “It had to be; I threw it a pretty good distance.”