Last year, my husband, Andrew, and I saw Prelude to a Kiss at the Huntington Theater. The play debuted in the late ‘80s, and was subsequently made into a movie starring Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan, none of which I knew when we sat down in the theater. Andrew, it turned out, was familiar with the movie, but was kind enough to keep what he knew to himself so as not to spoil the experience for me.
The first act was wonderful. I was totally engaged and spent intermission happily speculating about what would happen next. The second act was a little bumpy, but I was riveted nonetheless. When it was over I was fully satisfied, satiated; the way I feel after a holiday meal of my mother’s brisket and a good bottle of wine. As we made our way slowly up the aisle, a disembodied voice reminded the audience that we were welcome to stay for a post-show conversation with a staff member from the theater.
Andrew and I sat in the lobby and watched the rest of the audience file out while we toyed with the idea of staying. We decided to give it a shot and when the stream of people leaving petered out we went back in and claimed seats in the orchestra. Roughly fifty others joined us, the majority of them old enough to be our parents, if not grandparents.
What ensued was as entertaining as the play itself. The representative from the theater solicited feedback from his small audience and they pulled no punches. A pompous, bald man in the front row criticized the lead actress for having a voice that grated. Someone suggested that the playwright had missed the mark entirely. An elderly woman asked mournfully, “Can you give me a synopsis of the play? I don’t know what was going on.” And one elderly gentleman, who had chosen to sit several rows further back than everyone else, complained peevishly, and often, that he couldn’t hear the conversation.
I don’t want to spoil the play for you in case you haven’t seen it, but I will tell you that it requires that you suspend disbelief in order to fully appreciate it. Similarly, it proved more entertaining to view the post-show conversation as a unique third act to our evening than a serious discussion of the play.
If you get the chance one day, I recommend that you see Prelude to a Kiss; however, I suggest you see the traditional two act version and have your post-theater discussion in a bar, over a nice glass of Pinot Grigio.