When I sat down at the Donmar last night I suddenly realised that I knew absolutely nothing about the play we were about to see, The Prince of Homburg. As usual my good friend had booked the seats months ago so normally I have time to at least read a review or two. But because of the Big Move and the long time I’d spent ‘galavanting around the Nordic countries’ (words of my good blogger and twitter friend, Wildernesschic) I hadn’t read an English paper for weeks.
When the lead, The Prince played by Charlie Cox (above), entered the stage wearing very fetching knee-length military boots, with his braces hanging down, my heart sank a little. Only a little because as those of you who read my theatre reviews know I do quite like a man in old fashioned attire, especially if he is a Dominic West lookalike. But I generally hate military themed plays, Shakespeare excepted, of course.
Reading the programme I soon found out the play is set in the 19th century, and was used for war propaganda by the Nazis. An intriguing study of power written by Heinrich von Kleist, but really not my cup of tea. Had the men’s uniforms not been so sexy, and the acting been so wonderful, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all. But the cast which included Ian McDiarmid, Siobhan Redmond, David Burke and Julian Wadham were so outstanding it was difficult not to engage with the action, however far-fetched and arcane the plot was. Charlie Cox’s Prince had the perfect combination of naivety and courageousness which was the eventual downfall of his character. And Ian McDiarmid as the Elector was so frighteningly authoritative you could quite imagine him ruling a whole nation single-handedly.
The excellence of the acting did not, however, take my mind of a more urgent matter. In the taxi on the way to the West End, I noticed that the zip of my newly acquired trousers had broken. The Joseph ski type pants were only being held up by the top bit at the waist. Luckily I’d paired the outfit with a loosely fitting Episode top which came to the top of my knees, so no-one would be any the wiser about the disaster lying beneath. There was just one problem – going to the loo.
I held on at the theatre but later, after we’d ordered our food at the Ivy, I just had to take the plunge and visit the Ladies. ‘Good luck,’ whispered my friend as I, wearing (for me) high heeled Prada sling backs started the walked across the crowded restaurant. In the privacy of the cubicle I tried to work the zip down from the top. But it would not budge. Finally, quite desperate now, I got one side down and was able to wriggle myself out of the pants. What a relief! Victorious, and not more than a little affected by the Bellinis we’d had as aperitifs, and the wine at the theatre, I decided to tackle the zip and fix it. Of course you’ll know that things are never that simple in my life. Naturally I broke the bloody thing. ‘It came off in me hand, Chief’ as the naval saying in our household goes. There I was in the Ladies’ loo at the Ivy with pants that would no longer zip up. ‘A safety pin?’ I hear you ask. I know I’m a mother, and (nearly) a responsible adult, still, I’m not the kind of person who even carries a packet of tissues with her, nor an umbrella, unless the skies are clear with the sun beaming down. So the chances I’d have a safety pin were pretty remote.
I was thinking fast. The food would have already arrived at the table; I needed to go back. There was nothing for it. I took the trousers off and blessed the sunny weather in Finland which had left a little bit of colour on my legs, as well as the unusual foresight I’d had to shave in the shower earlier. My pants just about fitted my Top Shop clutch bag, although it was bulging badly. I stuffed the bag under my arm and strutted out of the restaurant, trying to resist the temptation to pull at the short dress. I reminded myself that when Kate Moss had a wardrobe malfunction last year at the Dorchester, she just tied her dress up around her waist and carried on partying. I was in good company.
I didn’t notice anyone’s reaction in the restaurant because I didn’t look. Only Husband made a comment, whispering, ‘Your legs look great.’ Bless him.