Clybourne Park – Captioned Theatre

Those of you following me on Twitter will know that on Tuesday I went to the theatre to see Clybourne Park at the Royal Court Theatre. Nothing unusual about that but this happened to be the first time I have been to the theatre for a performance that has been subtitled/captioned by STAGETEXT.

Well what a first captioned play to choose – best screenplay I’ve seen in ages. But for this blog I’m here to review the experience of watching a captioned play. I could wax lyrical about the performances – all were brilliant. I admit I bought the tickets knowing Martin Freeman was performing. None of the cast disappointed. Ahem… so to the captions…

Clybourne Park

Poor iphone photo does NOT reflect quality of STAGETEXT at all.

As you can see from the photo above, out of habit I bought tickets close to the front of the stage in the stalls. It is habit because I have found I need to be near the front so that I can (1) hear more dialogue and (2) lip-read. With the captions being up above it was a bit of a neck strain but not a problem to read the screen. In fact I found I had the best of both worlds. Close enough to the stage to lip-read, and if I still didn’t hear some of the dialogue, I could look up to read the captions. The captions I found to be accurate and just as important – in sync with the performance. The captions included audio descriptions for any non-dialogue sound on stage. If you have seen this play you will know that in the first act there is a deaf character and ASL (American Sign Language) is used (the screenplay is American) which I found fascinating to watch. I also observed that the captions had American spellings but I think this is the correct way to go given that the characters are American, and it reflects their dialogue. There is also a funny joke about the deaf character (and no, not at their expense, at the situation) and offensive language which I won’t spoil by repeating here. But put it this way had the deaf character been able to read the captions for – the joke would no longer have worked 😉

I would definitely go to another captioned theatre show. It will help me save money on expensive seats for a start! I can buy tickets that are not close to the stage and still be able to follow the dialogue without needing the aid of lip-reading. It means I can also enjoy the theatre with hearing friends and not worry about where the seating is for the tickets that have been bought. I did attend this show with a hearing friend as well actually. It is an invaluable service and much preferred option to a t-loop system which I only ever tried to use once in a theatre environment and found of little benefit – though that is not to say that others do not. I cannot speak for everyone.

STAGETEXT provide captioning for theatre shows across the UK. Take a look at the website for details of upcoming captioned performances.