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Who would have known there were so many ways to enter and exit the 3,000 plus capacity theatre - oh, and if Door Six isn't immediately obvious, you'll find it down the lane between the Playhouse and The Glasshouse Hotel. Mind the steps.
After 545 days dark, the Playhouse reopened this week to much fanfare and a touring production of Dolly Parton's crowd pleasing musical, 9 to 5. I headed along as much for the sense of occasion as for the desire to see the show again, although I'm glad I did. Never underestimate the feel good factor of a good old-fashioned laugh along production.
Having attended a lunchtime launch event earlier in the day, I arrived in the evening well briefed on the numbered door system, adopted as part of the venue’s Covid-aware measures.
The Covid-passport may not be a thing yet, but if you are 18 or over, as well as your e-ticket, which can be scanned from your phone, you also need proof of your double jag (get it from the NHS Inform website in PDF form) again you can show it on you phone but remember, your second dose must have been administered at least 14 days before your visit.
Not double jagged? Then don't forget proof of a negative lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of your visit. If you’re naturally immune, you’ll need proof of that too; ‘a positive PCR test within the last six months, after self-isolation has ended and up to 180 days after taking the test’.The email with your tickets warns that if rock up without the required proof, 'failure to provide your details may result in you being refused entry without a refund.'
With your tickets you will also receive details of which door to enter by as well as being given a time to arrive at to be admitted. The staggering of arrivals is to avoid bottlenecks and crowds gathering.
If all that sounds like a bit of a palaver, on opening night it seemed to work pretty seamlessly. Welcome to the new normal, although I have my own personal doubts as to how long these protocols will remain in place.
Inside, apart from the fact masks are mandatory for those not exempt, it is basically business as usual. The bars are open or alternatively you can take advantage of the at seat service.
Once the lights go down - on opening night, after a few heartfelt words from Theatre Director Colin Marr that were, I imagine, echoed by everyone in the audience and backstage - you’d never know the pandemic is ongoing. Not only did Dolly's ditties transport us back to the Eighties when the world was a very different place for working women, it took us back nearly two years to before the doors were closed and everything stopped.
A couple of hours in the world of Doralee, Judy and Violet proved a tonic from the stresses of the pandemic, but the characters and show on stage don't really matter, it’s the escape that matters and that's exactly what we all need right now.
Welcome back, Edinburgh Playhouse.