You walk across the stage and down the side stairs, into The Pit.
What strikes you first is the glass, its shining gleam in the half-light. The seating area closest to the stage — straight ahead of you now — does not have any seats at all but is a standing area, entirely enclosed in a glass dome. That must be the area reserved for the less fortunate, for the Upper Hallers like you. Further back is the first row of seats, each set of four boxed off from the others, also in glass. You squint and peer around the theatre. The rows continue to thin out slowly, until right at the top, where there are only two seats per box.
How bizarre. There’s something about the set up that makes you think of a quarantine, although whether it is the audience or the performers being protected, you’re not quite sure.
You walk away from the stage, keeping close to the right-hand wall, past a couple rows until you reach row G. It stretches to the other side of the theatre, an array of enclosed seats. Each box is numbered; the one nearest to you has an ornate 8 etched into the glass door. You test the handle, and the door swings open a couple centimetres, beckoning you to go inside and try out the chairs for yourself.
But some hidden instinct is warning you not to enter — you don’t belong there, it was not made for people like you but for the elite, the classes who live in the luxury of the Lower Halls. Your place is behind you, closer to the stage, and it is there that you should go.
Which do you listen to?