Two weekends ago I had an unexpected experience at the theatre.
A friend of mine had a spare ticket to see Mrs Henderson presents at a theatre in the West End. I been wanting to see more live shows here in London and so when the chance came along to go see something I took it.
I didn’t really know much about the story except that the musical was about a wealthy London Woman who owned a theatre during the second World War and that it scandalised London by offering live nude woman on the stage. The musical itself was very good and the songs were beautiful but there was a moment during the second act that came as a real surprise to me.
I’ve grown up with stories my Grandparents told me about London during the war but being from Australia and having never experienced something like that made it hard to make a connection with what it must have been like. When the characters are taking shelter in the theatre during an air raid and the drone of the bombers and the explosions can be heard in the background it occurred to me that I was sitting in a theatre in London listening to sounds that my Grandparents would have heard all those years ago. It brought back all the stories and suddenly I felt for the first time like I understood. It was only a brief moment, what came next really surprised me.
There is a Character in the Show named Eddie who joins the airforce, becomes bomber crew and is killed during a mission. My Grandfather had a brother in the airforce who was also bomber crew and who was also killed and his name… Eddie. It was a strange feeling for me. Very suddenly I realised that as they sang on stage about the death of their friend I was sitting in the audience thinking that this could just have easily been my families story. It was emotional, I began thinking about my Great Gran and my Grand father living through the War and mourning their loss. It made me cry and it still brings a lump to my throat to think about it.
I wasn’t going to go to the theatre that night. I almost cancelled and was going to stay home. I’m glad that I didn’t because I would have missed making a really profound connection with my family.
There are so many poignant moments in our lives that pass within a whisper of us. Some times we cross their paths and some times we miss them because of the most trivial un-noticeable decisions we make in our lives.