Saturday, March 30, 2013

I'm about to go to a reading of My Own Play (With Songs).

Frankly, that's quite weird.

Scratch the "quite".

Substitute "extremely".




Thursday, March 28, 2013

Anyway, enough bi*ching and fetching.

You should come and see this.

We start two weeks last night.
I was satisfied to notice that sweet, ever patient and thoroughly adorable Emma accidently snapped (gently) at a latecomer to tonight's rehearsal.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Found myself telling off one of the cast for being late tonight. One of the cast in Ross' show. Not my show. I'm just a little morsel actor with no right to tell off anybody.

Director's Tourettes.

An angel of a production.

Sought out because it was directed by my director love, John Tiffany.

And I'd forgotten altogether that it was written by my writer love, Enda Walsh.

(Based on a movie so let's not give them all of the credit. But still.)

There were many good things about the show.

The set. A chocolate box of a pub set squished inbetween the theatre walls with a strategically placed behind the bar mirror so you didn't suffer nearly as much as you might've if you were sat loftily above it all in the cheap(er) seats.

The opening. For it began before the show started with the musicians and likely actors too having a fine ol' time serenading each other in the oak-panelled chocolate box.

The story. Chocolate box charming but with a proper arthouse film ending.

The music. Magic. (Though the sound levels were variable at some points but I was seeing a preview for about a third of a regular West End show ticket price so I expect this will be sorted. And this is really nit-picky anyway.)

The acting. A measure of their success is that the little Eastern European vested drummer is the NTS' darling, one-time star of Black Watch and subsequently, various other triumphs (such as Zinnie's miserable oh whatever it was - the dystopic future civil warring bleak nothing nice will ever happen again only death play. The Wheel.). Totally didn't recognise him.

The interval. They set up handrails and served drinks on the stage. ON THE STAGE. If I hadn't been in the angel's share of the theatre, I'd've hastened myself down to buy something anything just to stand on a real West End stage. But I feared I'd not make it down in time and would end up locked out.

The dialogue. Punchy, spare, unpredictable, evocative as the smell of baking bread.

The choreography. How I coveted John Tiffany's (or John Tiffany's choreographer's) eye for little subtle Black Watch letter-reading-stylee choreography to just nicely punctuate a lyric. 

The charming little Phoenix Theatre. Handily placed for a pre-theatre visit to Foyles.

The how much they meant it. (Or appeared to.) The main girl appeared to cry during the curtain call.  Which was something of a standing ovation.

And the story the story the story. Telling you anything about it at all would spoil the surprise. But suffice to say this sentimental fool spent big portions of the first and the second half gulping back her tears because it was Just So Beautifully put together.

I would like to fold this show up and store it in a music(al chocolate) box and take it out whenever I'm feeling that life isn't very fair. As it's the perfect reminder that life often isn't very fair but most of the time, it's still pretty special.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'm in London for a couple of days so of course I've come to the theatre.

Once which is a musical that John Tiffany directed that transferred to Broadway, did stupendously well, won loads of Tonys and is now back in London. I've wished to see it for ages so I'm very excited.

I clambered up the steps to the highest reaches of the theatre and at the top the very top, there's John T, standing there chatting busily on the phone.

Forgetting that he doesn't actually know that he and I are dear friends, I give him a creepily broad grin. He frowns slightly into his phone.

I remember sharply and cruelly that we're only friends in my head. And lurch forward into the dark and welcoming bosom of my heartland.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I went to see Takin' Over The Asylum by accident really. I'd trotted along to the Lyceum to see (the turgid) Time And The Conways and queueing to collect the tickets, I was lured into lashing out £7:50 on a ticket for the preview of Takin'.

I'd vaguely clocked some of the press - based on a TV programme from the seventies, it presented us with a radio show set in a mental hospital - and feared it presented a prize opportunity for hideous crassness so had thought I'd keep away. But £7:50 for theatrical education. A small price to pay.

So Wednesday was the night. I went with no expectations. (Common theme here.) And came away delighted.

It is arguably a contrived and not very original plot. Washed up not even a DJ pitches up at a hospital plump with do-gooding doctors and / or administrators and patients plump with mental ill-health. He is charged with setting up an in-house radio station, starts out and he is shunned. Finishes up the play and he is loved, heralded and acclaimed. It's not quite so straight-forward as that - various obstacles are thrown in along the way - but you get the basic construct.

But what elevates this from just another 'turn your on-stage audience around' story is a rather fabulous cast. Our washed up DJ was played by a brilliant chap called (I think) Iain Robertson. There was a beautifully observed hospital administrator woman who walked with just the right degree of pointless self-important purpose. The hospital patients - oh how easy it would have been to be too glib or trite or flippant or just too cavalier. And I'm no expert but I think this lot did a pretty good job.

It was helped along by a clever old beige set and lovely very lovely lighting. And of course the radio station plot gave the perfect excuse for a rousing Northern (I think) Soul soundtrack.

All in all, it was a delight. Funny. Very funny sometimes. Nicely poignant at others. Think Little Voice with more people, more troubles and (sadly) no over-bearing mother. I wouldn't roll out all of the stars but I'd give it an emphatic four. So if you like the sound of the above, you could do far worse than lash out for a non-preview ticket. You have three weeks.
Remember my wild vomiting episode outside Asda The Jewel a few weeks back?

Despite the twice broken security seal on my bucket, they still seem able to inform me - god bless them - that my limpid collecting efforts yielded a grand total of seven pounds and sixty four pence.

I guess that'll pay for about four seconds for someone with a Marie Curie nurse so happy four seconds, someone.

On the plus side, the overall shift, taking all the healthier collectors into account too, raised getting on for £900.

So that, multiplied by however many people and however many stores, is suddenly worth doing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Putting together a rehearsal schedule for My Own Show.

Now that's an extremely weird experience and one I can't take wholly seriously.

Monday, March 11, 2013

It would be fair to say that I've had some strange experiences at The Edinburgh Playhouse. Hopes raised and dashed. Low hopes spectacularly exceeded. And then some experiences that can only reasonably be described as strange.

Saturday night fell into the latter category.

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert starring Jason Donovan would not, under normal circumstances, be top of my prize picks list but Sister loves the boy star of Neighbours so let's put my selfish wishes to one side for one second.

On arrival at the theatre, it was clear that we were in extremely excitable company. We squished into our little corner of the whatever circle and prepared to enjoy.

The two boys next to us were well on their way to enjoying themselves. A late Christmas present for a mother and the girlfriend of one of them also appeared to be in tow. As were a very large number of plastic cups which may have once contained alcoholic beverages.

The (beautifully polished) orchestra struck up and the boys went wild. Singing. Perhaps mistaking this for a karaoke show. Waving their arms along the row of our seats as if they themselves were conducting.

The story progressed along its slinky way. The flying angel girls who were hung suspended to deliver much of the singing launched into Hot Stuff. The boy next to me licked his finger and touched it excitably to my cheek. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and he slung his arm round me and swayed to the compelling rhythm. Always On My Mind and he kissed his hand, gently touched my cheek and gazed into my eyes. My fastest ever romance.

Except the second the show was over - in fact, seconds before the show was over, he darted up and off to the toilet. Again - he leapt up and they flew out of the theatre with mutterings about driving to Yorkshire early tomorrow. Good luck, fellow road users.

And jilted again. Dark un-Play(ful)house Days.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Books Down Day is almost upon us. And it's quite lovely to be dreading it as an actor who's responsible for one fourteenth of the overall piece rather than the director who must take responsibility for the usually miserably shambolic first books down run through.

Where rehearsals 'til now (those slim few that I've attended) have been casual flippertigibbet affairs with light hearted joshing, pranking and opportune bank visits being enjoyed backstage, Thursday's rehearsal had a whole new focused intensity. Those not on stage sat silent or paced fretfully backstage muttering their lines as they stooped over their scripts.

Not that these flimsy volumes appear to be up to it. I have all of three lines and the page on which my first lines appear today detached itself from its cousins. So I dread to think how the volume belonging to he of surely as many lines as Richard III (Byron. Mr Johnny Rooster Byron) must be faring. This perhaps is why everyone bar myself and my similarly lightly-spoken co-actor Kenneth have switched to photocopies.

Tomorrow is D Day. I forced myself for one bold run-through on Thursday to manage without my script. I managed only because he of all the lines in the world was waving his script about so I could slyly read my words from his highlighted photocopy. The consequence of this? Some gorilla faced photos of me frowning and scrunching in concentration on Facebook. No need for you to know where.

So I look forward to more frowning and scrunching tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm going tonight to learn from a master. Jason Donovan in high-heeled action at The Playhouse. High-octane fun, I gather.

Apparently I walked like a sloven on Thursday night. So I'll see what I can learn from the three high-heeled lovelies tonight to bring new inspiration to tomorrow's rehearsal.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Delightful, delicious, danceworthy almost.

I have myself not one child for JC. But three.