Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bye bye, August.

You were brilliant fun.

Because I'm clearly constitutionally incapable of dealing with down time, off I popped to the SCDA play library last night to harvest fresh scripts.

And it's not even the end of August.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I sat in a meeting this morning at work, about - well, whatever - and someone said "you know they only pretend to like us".

Into my head burst oh most false love.

(Bet that's a misquote. Cleo?)

But I bit my lip.

In case they somehow haven't realised already that I'm a pretentious - whatever.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Seven Deadly Sins.

A perfect way to round up the Fringe.

Clever Mr Weil. (And Brecht and Balanchine.)

(And Company Chordelia.)

A gorgeous little gem of a show at the Picturehouse.

When the drinking tigress meets herself in the pool
She's apt to become a menace.

The complete libretto is here fyi.

Suffice to say I'm fantasising about this as The Next Project.

But I think it's a bit short.

Cleopatra emailed me today to say that I needed to update my profile info.

She specifically emailed me the text, in fact, to highlight how wrongly I was still claiming to be working on A&C.

So. Duly altered.

The bubble is burst.

The Fringe is (almost) done.

Man alive. (As Cleo, in a thoroughly unqueenly way, would say.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

At the eleventh hour, Monster in the Hall / And the birds fell from the sky / subtle mob's our broken voice (of which more later - hmm, too many of these broken promises in recent months) have been usurped from their previous collective pole position by this.

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Body Balance this morning.

Now please bear in mind that men never come to this class. Sometimes a spindly gingery man teaches the class. Very once in a while, a pretty cute boy attends looking sheepish. But it's principally dishevelled and shambling women.

So imagine my consternation when I entered the studio today to see three man drifting about. I thought momentarily that I must be in the wrong class wrong day wrong time something. And then realised the dishevelled women were clucking around the edges so all was as it should be. Just With Men.

A slender beautiful fellow, beautifully inked, stepped forward and announced that he was taking the class for regular teacher Gillian. Fair play to him.

We could not help but notice that he was wearing exceedingly short shorts. Fair play to him.

Now I'm normally lazy as you like in this class. I scarcely try, I waggle my limbs about a bit, I yawn a lot as an excuse not to do the things that are too difficult.

But an interesting change came over me, realised only when the time came to attempt the bird. Maybe the little bird. It makes no difference.

The movement requires you to upend yourself, head towards the ground and place your knees onto your upper arms, just above the elbow, as your hands press into the floor. Theoretically, if you have any sort of strength (I do not), you can balance like this with your feet off the ground.

I have never mastered this move and can't really take it seriously enough to try.

But clearly, this morning, the testosterone in the room spurred me on.

Everyone crouched and hovered and many many balanced.

I crouched, I tipped, I hovered, I

- thud -

Fell like a bird felled by a big heavy stone onto the mat.

The teacher perfectly upsidely down poised cried out delightedly (for of course he could not see as he was upside down) "I heard that!"

I received many sympathetic looks when the poised righted themselves.

And a delightfully round faced girl next to me said she'd fallen onto her head previously so I shouldn't worry.

We must have all been trying very hard today as I was gratified to note that another woman fell onto her face before the end.

I hope The Men don't come back.

Friday, August 26, 2011

She's right.

"I do not like but yet."

Misquoting Shakespeare.

A travesty.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm such a child.

Two more pictures today for this and this.

No pictures for this or this.

After the End was particularly good but might already have finished.

Oh - And The Birds etc. is amazing. Ask Russell. Ross, if you're reading this by chance, pleeease try and squish it in at the weekend.
But yet.

(I do dislike 'but yet'. It does allay the good precedence.)

When I placed the six scripts into the recycling bin this morning and watched the yawning mouth swallow them up, I still felt a moment of unmitigated panic and contemplated (almost) posting my hand into the bin and retrieving them.

You'll be glad to know I kept myself in check.

Poor six.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Please be aware that though I'm making myself throw out 6 copies of the beloved Antony and Cleopatra script, each slightly more edited than the last, I'm not happy about it.

I have a terrible compulsion to keep them all so I can marvel at the stridency of my edit in the years to come.

Who'm'I kidding?

I'll recycle them though.

All six copies.

Dear six.

Maybe I'll just keep one.
And sovereign mistress of true melancholy, we're still missing the lines. The lines.
Oh look.

They're catching up.

If you're remotely interested, herewith (very) edited versions of my verdicts on:

The Golden Dragon (controversial - others have starred it more)

Bach for Breakfast

Sunday In The Park With George

Soy de Cuba
(if you scroll down. Yes, BS Neill. Pathetically trying to recreate the experience.)

And today, I got two pictures to accompany my thin words. It was thrilling - I felt honoured.

This irrationally - as it's really neither here nor there if they're printed - pleases me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

btw, I don't see how you could have missed this (unless you're a complete stranger to me in which case - well, I'm glad to have you here) but if somehow your head has been wedged into a hole these past 24 hours, might you think about voting for us please?


(Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group.)

(In case there's any doubt.)
I had to go to Manchester today. (Work purposes.)

I didn't have to take my script.

Which I've done every other time for the past x weeks.

Although my bag was less full to bursting, I felt a little like I was missing a favourite arm.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My flat - once again - looks as if it's been ransacked by a vile den of thieves.

My hallway is heaped to the gunnels with rejected (stinking) costumes and a tangle of so-called jewellery.

My living room is piled high with the domestic equipment that's been evicted from the hall cupboard to extract the toolbox.

The living room table - and the 'recycling' patch of the hall floor - are scattered with flyers, ticket stubs, scraps of Three Weeks, The Skinny, The Scotsman Review supplement, bits of the Evening News (totally failed to get the pointless tokens anywhere near their office) in a giant tangle of words and venue listings.

The chaise longue in my bedroom is heaped with garments that have been evicted from a suitcase to make way for nine sets of combat fatigues.

My bedroom floor is heaped with rejected Cleopatra dresses that I haven't put away yet.

My filofax hasn't been opened for two and a half months and is empty of engagements for the next four months.

(Not, I hasten to add, because I don't have any. Heaven forfend. But because I haven't written any of them down. So I expect an orgy of double booked apologies to follow over the next few weeks.)

I've been living in bedroom darkness for approximately the same period of time as the lightbulb blew and I did nothing about changing it.

And I've just eaten half an easter egg. That sat innocent and pure as Octavia atop my stereo system in the absence of any me in the flat to enjoy it.

On the plus side, that same suitcase full of (as yet unwashed) uniforms, stuffed with additional discarded garments, just provided me with boost enough to stand atop the bed and change the bedroom lightbulb.

(Far too lazy to start moving the bed and dragging the ladder through of course.)

So it's not all bad.
Come, show, come.

I will wrestle with you in my strength of love.

Thus I have you; thus I will let you go

And give you to the gods.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Anyway, you'll be less interested in my endless narcissism.

The show is going beautifully.

Monday was a little scraggy but given that they'd had no real dress or anything like a run through in the venue, wasn't wholly surprising.

Tuesday was perkier.

Wednesday was gorgeous. (Sound incompetencies aside.)

Thursday was something approaching assured. (Though don't think I didn't notice some of the tiny eeeks.)

So tonight and tomorrow should be stupendous.

Four tickets left for tonight and a few more for tomorrow. Snap them up if you haven't already.

Or you shall miss a treat.

Obviously, I'm missing it already and we're not even done.

Sentimental fool.
I've just despatched - filed, I should say - my twenty-first review to the Evening News this (Fringe for Siobhan's benefit) festival.

Something like 4,200 words.

No wonder I've been running around like an idiot.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More pics here.

Jon, you're brilliant (again).
I'm a substandard sound engineer.

On night one, I skipped one of the voice clips by accident, cutting three lines belonging to very talented Lepidus who has something like 13 lines in total.

Night two, I skipped a different voice clip, thus removing the need for the raggedy "that's our offer" theoretically spoken in unison but more often delivered in slippy succession.

Night three, I knocked out a connecting cable under the sound desk with my knee as I craned to see what was going on below me on the stage.

This took place only one cue before a vital gun shot. So one piece of planned music played out silently. Though it did mean the boy band moment was allowed without interruption.

And then we had a blind silent panic at the back of the theatre, scrabbling to find something, anything, that might create a kind of equivalent gun shot sound. As the RSC man lent forward with interest and attentiveness on the front row.

I came up with a sturdy roll of tape. And CLM (Clever Lighting Man) bashed it against the metallic railings when the gun shot SFX failed to play.

Then, miracle of miracles, CLM, crawling around under the desk, established the source of the difficulty. Cured it.

And the second gun shot was obligingly 'real'.

I don't think I'm cut out for this job.
Oh look. Gorgeous.

Clever Jon.
Oh look. I'm online.

I didn't google myself (for a change) but was wondering whether any other reviews of our show had been published. As we had a reviewer I don't know about, in both Monday and Tuesday nights.

As I'm pretending the Evening News review doesn't exist, I'm very interested to see alternatives.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sorry, I've been negligent.

Too busy doing the show, reviewing like a mad thing or drinking like a fish with no respect for its liver.

We got an atrocious review in the Evening News today. I can't even bring myself to share our star rating. But you'll not be seeing any more smug three star observations here in the foreseeable future.

On the plus side, we're sold out through the Fringe office for tonight.

I do like the little red squares.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Man alive.

As it goes, we could scarcely have had a more troublesome pre-first-night-day.

After a frantic morning rushing around sorting all the associated nonsense that goes with a show, we arrived at the rehearsal rooms bright eyed and bushy of tail, to discover -

- how can this be? -

- a party in full swing.

People people people all over the place.




It was intensely surreal and intensely horrifying, in more or less equal measure.

So we beat a hasty retreat.

I pleaded like an idiot with the Assembly staff currently occupying the building for a spare room.

Bless the girl in charge, taking in my bulging eyes and offering up a small meeting room replete with furniture.

But more greater blessings upon Mr Security Man who instead (and O bless the rain for not) let us use a tiny morsel of the shelter of the George Square Theatre.

So yes, our dress rehearsal was downgraded from a dress and took place in a gutter.


(Poor two photographers.)

Overlaid with all sorts of drilling, sirens, cars on cobbles, thumping seductive jazz from the Assembly George Square Gardens. (I did wonder fleetingly about replacing all of the music with a swinging sultry jazz like accompaniment...)

They did remarkably well. (Though don't think I didn't notice you ones that came on late...)

So then we had to negotiate the luckily thinning down party goers to extract all of our costumes all of our props from the rehearsal rooms while they looked on disapprovingly.

And then a hop and a skip and a dash to see Enobarbus playing the flute in Mahler's Ninth at the church with the dog.

Before, like an ill-mannered heathen, I slipped out of the door before it had even finished to set sail for my tech.

The tech. Well, it might have been better if the lighting desk hadn't crashed three times. And the sound hadn't given up at one point.

But what was remarkable is that the set fits. Nay, looks good. The major set movers - well, I'm very proud of how much they've subliminally (or by my nagging?) absorbed from whisking their A4 pieces of paper about the place.

And by and large, the scraps of action that we got to recreate within the scraps of time that we had - looked - lurvely.

So. If the old maxim about the worse the dress still stands, we'll have a storming performance tomorrow. (In denial - today, really.)

I cannot wait.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An action packed day.

Panel practice.

Dress rehearsal.


I feel slightly feverish at the prospect.

We've had none of the set for any of the rehearsals as yet so I can only imagine the raft of 'issues' that shall be uncovered when the fun begins.

Wish us luck.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The formatting the formatting. Grrrrrrr.
Should you be interested, and as they've now been printed, some of my favourites (lazy slack cut and paste from my 200 word submissions) to date.

The Monster in the Hall by Davie Greig @traversetheatre

Duck is a teenage girl whose mother died when she was 3 and is now struggling to look after her dad as his multiple sclerosis worsens. One day, she discovers that a social worker will be visiting their home. Panicking that she’ll be taken into care, so begins a day of trying to keep the Fairy of Catastrophe at bay.

This is a charming play by Davie Greig and a delightful production. Written for (and with) young people, it’s equally captivating for anyone older. Performed by four actors with the assistance only of microphones, they alternately speak, sing and create their own sound effects, right down to the arrival of The Monster.

The performers are wonderfully versatile, as comfortable in character as they are as backing singers for the songs peppering this production. (“Alone by the side of a B-Road” is one highlight.) It’s unjust to single out performers in such a talented ensemble but Gemma McElhinney is particularly touching as the girl who tries to will order out of chaos.

TAG does a brilliant job of highlighting the challenge faced by young carers across Scotland – but in such a non-preachy way that you’ll love coming along for the ride.

Mission Drift by TEAM Theatre @traversetheatre

Shows like Mission Drift don’t come along very often. It’s a sprawling epic of a piece, presented with verve, vigour and flair by this inventive, energetic New York based theatre company.

They tell two parallel tales that shadow the rise and decline of capitalism, symbolised by the rampant growth – and then crash – of Las Vegas, the city built on sand.

Catalina and Joris set sail from the Old World to the New in 1642. On arrival in America, they build and abandon and build in an endless cycle of greed. Joan was employed in a Vegas casino ‘til the market crashed and she lost her job. She struggles to hold onto the Vegas promise of a better tomorrow as the city falls into rubble around her.

To the accompaniment of an extraordinary soundtrack, delivered by the incredibly talented Heather Christian (as puppet master meets beauty queen), this production is a riot of colour, choreography and well-chosen words.

At almost two hours in length and laden with subtexts, this isn’t a frothy show. But the cast serve up the story with such commitment and creativity that it’s a pleasure to watch.

In a world paying the price for the increasing gap between those with money and those without, this is a fiercely topical piece that delivers plenty of food for thought.

Lethal Injection by Five-One Productions at C eca

The death penalty is still dealt out in more than 100 countries across the world. Sarah Goddard’s tightly written new play examines the impact of life on death row for four very different men and their warden.

Daniel Bottomley plays an overwrought husband who, after six years of the perfect marriage, found his wife in bed with another man and shot them both. Tom Skitt is a peculiarly charming unrepentant drunk driver who knocked down one too many people.

Graham Elwell is a hollow-eyed doctor haunted by guilt about the pain-racked patients he helped to die. And Matt Leigh is an unsettlingly frenetic serial killer, delighted with his handiwork. Anne Leone as their warden brings a touching humanity and kindness to their last days.

This play is beautifully, economically, directed by Sean Turner. A carefully orchestrated piece with a spare but inventive set and thoughtful lighting throws the story into stark relief. Is it ever right to repay the taking of a life by taking another? Topical stuff as the assisted suicide debate continues to rage in Scotland.

“Was I being selfish?” asks the man with the perfect marriage. “No” replies the doctor, “you were just being human.”

Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut from the Tron Theatre @ThePleasance

For fans of the film this is close to a dream ticket. For this is Casablanca, complete with Humphrey, Ingrid and a piano-playing Sam, transferred to Scotland, condensed and served up with a huge dollop of fun.

You’ll know the story. Rick runs a bar in Casablanca. The Nazis rule the roost. And into the melting pot step Ilsa and her underground resistance leader husband, Victor. Rick and Ilsa had their moment in Paris and then she ran out on him. And Rick’s never found out why.

In this fabulously inventive gin joint cut, the story is retold by a talented cast of three with the help of a variety of costumes, a versatile set and a multi-purpose fez. Gavin Mitchell is a startlingy convincing Bogart with all the magnetism of the screen legend. Clare Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm do a superb job of jumping in and out of costumes to recreate – all the other parts.

We’re served up all the essential quotes, the all important piano ballads, the tragic partings and even an audience-led rendition of the Marseillaise. This is an action-packed whirlwind of a show, full of fun, froth and fake smoke.

They’ll be playing it again until 29th August. A kiss is just a kiss – but this is ever such a fun one.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oh hooray.

Due to an email inundation, I don't have a ticket for my 8pm show which would have required a quick dash down the road and no time to write it up before the next one began.

This poor particular show appears slightly doomed as I was also meant to have seen it at the weekend but that time, a preview mix up confounded my attendance.

So one show only tonight. I feel quite floppy with relief.

A little work catch up can commence instead.

(Well, after I've blogged obviously!)

Oh hooray.
Saddest moment of the night.

Bidding farewell to wonderful Charlotte who disappears to London on Sunday to take up a placement with the Royal Opera House.

(I asked her to steal me a tutu.)

(For the next time I play a bad fairy, you know.)

Charlotte, you've been stupendous.

They look beautiful, all.

Thank you.
Dress rehearsal tonight.

7 minutes too long!

But I've more or less given up on this 1:25 idea. I'll settle for 1:30.

More importantly, as the rain lashed against the window creating a fabulously moody brooding atmosphere, they were, in turn, fabulously moody and brooding.

Excellent work, my pretty ones.

Come see.

Tickets here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The usual pre-show symptom.

I wake up with a portion of the play in my head.

This morning, I had an Enobarbus to Cleopatra line:

Take from his heart, take from his brain, from's time,
What should not then be spared.

In each case, I daresay it's my subconscious attempting to alert me to something.

Shout if you have any ideas.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Three stars.

Heh heh heh.

(Though clearly I won't be quite so entertained if we end up with three stars.

Or, god forbid, two.

Act well, boys and girls.

We need four.)

Monday, August 08, 2011

As Octavia did her own research to find out about her character's background and life demeanour, so Dolabella has been doing his own research to discover how he and his counterpart, Proc, might conduct themselves.

This was his conclusion.

I approve wholeheartedly.

Fortuitously, our military drill-er reached much the same conclusion and schooled them to recreate a similar effect tonight.

She's clearly a Public Enemy fan too.

The first of the competitors in The Competition.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

I've been utterly theatrically spoilt this weekend.

I took Friday afternoon off and saw a fabulous piece of theatre. Couldn't get in to something that apparently isn't so good which was hardly heartbreaking. And topped off the day with something so appallingly shockingly bad that it still makes me cringe inwardly. At least no-one saw me there.

(At least I could say I was only reviewing if they did.)

Saturday was a complete treat. Two fabulous Traverse shows before and after lunch. A brilliantly fun show at the Pleasance after afternoon tea. And then the infamous Dance Marathon. I'll write about this (along with Knives in Hens) when I have time one day.

Today, I filed (I believe they say) my reviews for yesterday's three four star shows.

I attended a Zumba class taught by a teacher who didn't have a background in dance and drama (a great relief).

I attended a quasi-dress rehearsal for A & C which wasn't at all bad, given that the poor bastards had the cast of the House of Yes breathing down their necks.

("What was that popping sound in the middle of my really dramatic speech, Mme Director?" "Oh, sorry, lead actor Antony, it was just me really incompetently trying to control my laptop (from which I was running the sound) and failing dismally.")

A quick carbohydrate snack ('tisn't true that man cannot live on bread alone. He can live perfectly well on bread as long as it's interspersed with the odd pastry snack) and a dash along the road to rehearsal swap and see Arkle's House of Yes.

Now this is a lovely show. Just my cup of tea. Terribly dark. Replete with misery but in tiny slithery ways. The worst, most insidious kind.

A cracking cast. Lorraine McCann, Mark Andersen, Stuart someoneorother (sorry), Wendy Mathison and an extraordinarily good 'new' (to me) girl called Caroline. It's be hard to go wrong with this combination of people and script.

But it's also beautifully directed. A very classy set. Delicate use of music. A very finely formed thing all round.

It's on at precisely the same time as we are. Give or take a few minutes. So if you've only got one free night that week, make sure it's ours. If you've got two, you could do a whole lot worse than this.

You could go and see That Thing I saw on Friday night for example. Now that would be a mistake.
Right, look, I'm writing up reviews.

So it's spelt 'panicking'...?


I'm not sure I can let this go.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Pics from last night. Two rooms right next to each other. But worlds apart.

They did beautifully tonight.

Dr Heather came in and drilled them on how to march and stand. So they subsequently saluted with rather more vigour than I've seen to date.

Unfortunately, they acted so well that the story dragged on. 15 minutes longer than it needs to be.


But there were some real knock your socks off moments to compensate for their slow slackness.

I've done the programme.

I think (B S Neill, you'd be proud) I've even managed the pagination sensibly.

(Make a dummy. You know it makes sense.)

And as icing on the cake, some rather fine photos from Mr Davey from Monday's rehearsal.

You'll have to come along to the show and purchase a programme if you want to see them in all of their finery.

But you can have one little small tiny one to whet your appetite.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Now most excitingly today - and really, it was more exciting for Jon than for me - but Jon had a whole bunch of his faithfully blipped photos published in the Evening News.

This was a small tiny thrill for me as they had considerately included one of the pics that Jon took at Monday's rehearsal.

Pretty (angst ridden) Antony and (disdainful? shocked? sleep-deprived?) Enobarbus.

But really, we should celebrate the wider achievement of talented as you like Mr Davey.

Well done he.
I just opened up my filofax to write something into it out of terror that I'll forget.

The little bookmark is on w/c 13 June.

Keeping up.
Now the Great Disadvantage of a show in the festival is that on the rare nights that the weather's nice, we're either ensconsed in the rehearsal rooms. Or I'm ensconsed in my flat, jabbing away at my laptop in the name of getting this or that sorted.

Tonight was one such night though I squished in the most lacklustre gym class ever.

But the "director's note" is written for the programme. I realised I had hideous plump margins on the programme and have squished them. I still can't fathom the pagination as I vaguely feel I'm waiting for too many other bits to be able to make a sensible decision. But a little headway at least as the sun set over the round the corner rooves.

Now onto sorting the "music" plus SFX into the right order.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I woke up this morning, thinking with mild panic, that I'd chosen completely the wrong quotation for the flyer (and other assorted publicity materials).

I've gone with my favourite Cleo quote.

But dancing in my head was Antony's contribution to the discussion:

I must from this enchanting queen break off:
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
My idleness doth hatch.

Far more prescient.

I felt slightly sick at the oversight.

And then got on with the day in hand.

With one and a half weeks (twelve days) to go, Antony looked at me as if I 'twere insane when I offered this up.

"I don't think it matters."

Richard (and Russell, for that matter), for your last minute retrieval of a potentially disappointing soundtrack situation, I thank you.

Helen, for your above and beyond the cause x6 A1 posters, I thank you.

Antony and Cleo, for your devotion to the cause above and beyond the requirements of the specified schedule, I thank you.

(Rehearsal of their portions tonight to the soundtrack of the thock thock of tennis balls on the court outside.)

(And what a beautiful relief to have a rehearsal contingent of two rather than the ten plus cat herding I'm more wearily used to.)

And to the all of you (Eros, I need your biog) that will conspire to contribute a full and complete cast for the very first time at Thursday's rehearsal, I thank you more.

Mme Director is much obliged.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Two weeks.