Pandemic life: "I cried like a baby out of pure emotion and relief" at theatre return

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

She has now turned those columns into a book Lockdown Observed: Becoming an Adult Without Leaving the House.

The pandemic robbed Jenny of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"Growing up, I often found it a great challenge to put my head on the pillow at night and fall asleep immediately. Not because I was diagnosed with childhood insomnia, but due to the fact that if the next day there was something interesting or out of the ordinary happening I was bound to be far too enthusiastic to sleep through the excitement. I could have been anticipating Christmas Day or a non-uniform day at school – the slightest difference to my week was something to cherish.

"Of course, it is natural to grow less and less mesmerised at the prospect of such excitement as we mature, which I suppose is a shame really. I admit that the year I fell asleep with great ease the night before my birthday and woke up fancying a lie-in was a shock to the system. As we age things seem to become more mundane and sleep becomes more of a luxury than a necessity – being forced to get ready for bed at 8:00pm felt like torture at nine but wouldn’t take much convincing even at nineteen.

"Anyway, I hope that I have made my point without sounding like too much of a pessimist before I have even reached twenty. The reason that I dwell on this topic is because for the first time in over a year I took on the role of an excited child and spent a great deal of time tossing and turning on Friday night before I could fall asleep. Not because in two days England would be playing in the Euros final (sorry, sore point) but because the next day I would be returning to the theatre after seventeen months. Yes, I have played my Spotify musicals playlist to death and watched the movies repeatedly, but nothing quite tops the experience of reclining in a velvet seat in anticipation of being swept away to another world for the next couple of hours. Well sometimes the seats aren’t velvet and you have the leg room designed for the space of a mouse, but besides the point.

"In early 2020 I pressed ‘purchase’ on my laptop for tickets to see South Pacific at Chichester Festival Theatre, and a year and a half later I must say it was worth the wait. I have no shame in admitting that I cried like a baby throughout the bows, not necessarily out of awe at how fantastic the show was (although it was brilliant) but out of pure emotion and relief that this was something that is once again apart of my life. I don’t wish to turn this article into a review, but that afternoon I was partially relieved for the mask covering my face as nobody could see my gasps and smiles at the beauty of the production.

"I believe there is at least one guilty pleasure that has been taken away from us over the pandemic, whether that’s live football, theme parks or shopping trips. And let me reassure you that if your ‘thing’ hasn’t quite yet returned, it is perhaps one of the best feelings ever."