A decent interval is not so much distracting as bracing: too much passive spectating can numb the mind as well as the body.
Or, as Jeff puts it, the mind can only absorb what the ass can endure. Apparently, I am not the only theater-goer who judges theaters by the intermssion. A recent article in the Telegraph considers both the rise of the 90-minute, no intermission shows ("Art," for example, which, truth be told, clocked in at the Stage at a consistent 78 minutes) and grand theater and grand opera with intermissions practically long enough to catch another show nearby.
I usually come down on or near the long intermission side because (as we all know) I go to theaters for the concession stands. Good intermission treats will help make up to me for some poor choices on stage. Well, maybe not really, but I'm less likely to be cranky about it.
But the point remains that shows like "Art" or Betrayal need to stay on track. The Pavilion benefits from a short chance to catch your breath before you plunge back into the sometimes icy waters of Pine City.
The same blog from which I got the initial link has a comment with links to two other roughly related articles. Is it a bad thing that plays are getting shorter and smaller? Are important bits being left out in order to get the "punters" off to dinner? It depends on the play. The Mercy Seat says what it has to say in 90 minutes and more time spent with these people isn't going to tell you more. LaBute didn't ask a lot of questions and he has time to answer the ones he asks (or answer them as fully as he intends).
And, she writes with dread, in the day when all theater is viewed on our mobile phones, 90 minutes will be considered way too long.
Via The Playgoer.