In the last century, when trying to draw analogies, the standard benchmarks were the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. Nowadays, while Shakespeare is still popular with many theatre folk, except within small, enclosed communities, very few younger folk will be familiar with the Bible, or so they imagine.

The comparison that springs to mind with the latest and news from the theatre world might make sense when referenced to the works of Sir Tim Rice and Lord (Andrew) Lloyd Webber. The 10 plagues were recorded in Exodus not too long after events depicted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but well before Jesus Christ Superstar. Egypt was thriving on the back of slave labour provided by immigrant Israelites. Where the current UK government would happily sacrifice the economy to the principle of badmouthing and repelling foreigners, in the Middle East, the home team reckoned that they were on to a good thing.

However, they had reckoned without divine intervention. In quick succession, they were literally plagued 10 times over and only saw the light, freeing the Israelites, after the slaying of every firstborn in the land. This seemed pretty harsh but was highly effective.

Events in the last few years have not been quite this drastic, but the Artistic Directors of some theatres might wonder how far they have got in their own mini-equivalent to the 10 plagues. Close to 15 years of austerity have been bad enough, without entering into the equivalent of a (not quite) recession when suffering from a cost-of-living crisis, which has hit many patrons and performers very hard. To make matters worse, costs have been spiralling, especially energy and wages. TV and film seem to have a nasty knack of allowing the stage to develop a talent before callously stealing it.

That would all be bad enough, but the advent of the pandemic could easily have been a killer blow and was for some. This set of circumstances was then compounded by the callousness of Nadine Dorries and Arts Council England, who worked in tandem to defund some theatres and massively reduce resources for others.

Those attempting to keep their heads above water might have hope that by then they had reached the end of the road, but for some theatres, such as Northampton’s Royal and Derngate, a newspaper headline about crumbling concrete and its impact on schools turned into a nightmare. Readers of the original story would have guessed that it was only a matter of time before some theatres succumbed. The National seemed the hot favourite, but fortuitously has not had to close completely, although remedial work is required.

Others are less fortunate and theoretically at this point a short-term closure could be terminal, given the parlous financial position of so many as result of ravages showered down by all of the other “plagues”. The COVID experience taught us that closing a theatre does far more than merely threaten jobs and require repayments of ticket money. In addition, a proportion of former patrons will be concerned about safety, find other entertainments or merely lose the habit of going to the theatre.

The chances of the current government being sympathetic in any way seem slim, given that they are going to be faced with whopping bills for repairing schools, hospitals, courts and other public buildings. Indeed, it has been painfully apparent that where the education minister has been embarrassed into giving (foul-mouthed) interviews and others followed suit, Lucy Fraser, the Minister for Culture, has been singularly silent when one might have expected her to be defending and promoting the brand.

Once again, many theatres are going to be forced to rely upon the kindness of strangers, good luck and even greater cuts.

So far, at least the firstborn have not been slain, but the misfortunes continue to pile up.