London's theatres are going dark. We are losing a large part of the magic that lives amongst us, for the live stage is a potent conjuration, an experience that leaves even the jaded and unimpressed changed, and mostly improved. Not just the actors on stage, but the whole backstage armies so skilled in lights, paint, ropes and canvas and mixing boards who form little animated clumps in pubs from the Welsh Harp to the Coach and beyond and whose presence amongst us adds immeasurably to the joy and quality of West End life.
I've just read Philip Ziegler's 'London at War 1939 - 1945' in which the capability of theatreland to survive and even flourish during the blitz and the following attritional bombing campaigns is well-described. This time that won't even be a possibility - this nasty little virus will succeed where Herr Goering failed (and we without a Murial let alone a 'Miss Hitler' to curse).
So here's a plea. In all the measures to mitigate the effects of this thing, let's not forget the theatres, and the people that make them work, and not just the West End but every Rep in the land that brings the magic of the stage to our lives. It will cost a lot less than maintaining the billionaire Richard Branson in his offshore lifestyle, and bring a lot more benefit to many more lives.