I heard the other day that the Druid Theatre, from the city of Galway on Ireland's west coast, was in Berkeley presenting "The Playboy of the Western World." This morning, Kate and I talked about going. Tickets were $75, and even as I like a good play and love Irish storytelling, that seemed steep. I took a look at the website of the outfit presenting the play, Cal Performances at UC-Berkeley. There was a mention of discounts. Students--and I have a current ID--could get in for half. Good deal. Then I noticed a mention of "rush tickets." If seats are still available, the box office will tell you two hours before curtain, and you can purchase them at a steep discount beginning an hour before the show. It turned out rush tickets were available, and I wound up sitting front row center, close enough to wonder whether the four actor balanced on a flimsy-looking wooden table might topple over into the audience.
I went alone since my would-be matinee companion decided other business pressed too hard to give up the entire afternoon to a gaggle of very thick Irish accents. After buying my ticket, we walked through downtown Berkeley running an errand or two before the show started. And that gave me the chance to hear a young guy selling a demo recording say to passersby, "Free CDs ... free CDs. I'm trying to expose myself."
The play? It was great to the point I hated to leave the theater afterward and stood watching the stage crew begin cleaning things up. (I had once wistfully thought of going to Ireland to see this company do the play after reading they were visiting the town in County Mayo that Synge visited before writing it. It was worth waiting for.) The production goes to Los Angeles now, and then to the Kennedy Center in Washington and the University of North Carolina. If it shows up in your town, go.