Brief one from me today, but something sirius need to be said before it gets too late. 

Spoiler: it’s about* spoilers. 

*No actual spoilers of anything will be featured. Just the word spoiler. A lot. 

I’ve had many arguments about spoilers over the years – mostly Game of Thrones induced. The general opinion in support of spoilers from the perpetrators is that if you can’t watch (or read) something upon its immediate release then you need to avoid all human/cyber contact until you have done so. Otherwise you’re not allowed to feel upset when something is spoilt for you. “If you’re not a big enough fan to make it your priority then you can’t get angry” was a particular mind boggler – you know, ‘cos life gets in the way of television scheduling. I stopped wasting my breath trying to argue that including plot ruining spoilers in a post was a ridiculous use of their social media presence anyway but hey, you can’t win with some people. However, there’s a different matter up for discussion today and that matter feels personal to me. That’s right. Ridout’s got something to say about the world of theatre. Who’d have thought it!?

If you’re of the (widely held) opinion that a ‘spoiler’ for something (eg. a book, film or television programme) is when a plot point is revealed then I believe that a new set of rules needs to be written for theatre. Its definition (in this non-car context) is: 

Spoiler    noun

A person or thing that spoils something. 

Theatre is not just a story to be spoilt through a leaked plot point but also an experience that will be dampened with the more you know about its delivery. As theatre goers we know that the thrill of experiencing the wonders of stagecraft can’t be replicated (or beaten in my opinion). Everyone should be allowed – and is entitled to – the full, glorious, experience. Inevitably, some aspects will be known in advance because of press photographs/an EPK, but these will have been specifically chosen moments that have been approved by the team who know what’s appropriate to unveil in advance of the theatregoers experience. Every other aspect should be experienced first-hand. That shouldn’t be up for discussion. 

Spoilers have been in the spotlight today (and inspired me to put pen to paper) following the first preview of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child last night – and a select few leaked details. In the magical world of Harry Potter, I’m pretty sure that the stagecraft involved is going to be pretty damn spectacular and is also likely to be the first of its kind on stage. They will definitely be things that will be spoilt if you know they’re going to happen before the fact. 

In less that 24 hours after the first preview I’ve had 2 features of the production told to me (one was to my face, without invitation and without time for avoidance tactics aka running away screaming). Two things. That’s nothing to moan about (say some people of the Twittersphere). Right? Wrong. Statistically that is terrifying. I’m not seeing the show until January 2017 and for people that are yet to secure tickets that’s an even more frightening thought. Two features per month would be bad. Two a week would really bad. Two a day is going to require a riddikulus amount of restraining orders (because apparently embargoes don’t work *cough certain tabloids who shall not be named*). 

I understand the want to talk endlessly about astounding theatre, I really do. It’s me. Sometimes show marketing even tells you to share what you enjoyed with the world (#LoveMormon). However, The Cursed Child have it plastered on the walls and even give you a badge (I won’t class that as a spoiler because it helps my argument and I love irony) telling you to #KeepTheSecrets. If J K tells you to do something, you should do it! 

Perhaps they should try an additional approach – like the West End’s longest running play, and best kept theatrical secret, The Mousetrap – and make an announcement. Theirs says: “Now you have seen The Mousetrap you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of whodunnit locked in your hearts”. It’s been running for 64 years. I’ve been alive for 23 of those and not heard so much as a whisper. Sure, that audience is asked to keep the plot-twist secret. The Cursed Child audience is asked, in messages passed down from J K Rowling herself, to keep all of the secrets. Seriously guys, silencio. 

That’s what I have to say on the matter anyway. If you disagree then please stay away from me until February 2017 when you will no longer be able to spoil even a fraction of my experience of the mostly hotly anticipated stage production ever

Let’s respect that theatre is an experience and people should be able to experience it first-hand – with fresh eyes and a clear mind that’s ready to blown to smithereens by what it witnesses. 

Happy not spoiling theatre productions! Many thanks, muggles everywhere.  

Listen to the woman, people!

“[They’ve] got magic to do, just got you….”

– Rebecca Ridout