Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Hall - Week 14

            With only a day and a morning left in Yarmouth, I took the time to chill and relax before the onslaught of the week to come. We didn't know what to expect come our arrival at Moreton Hall, but what I was certain of, was that I was going to need all the energy I could muster for it.
            So, I did nothing.
            I watched the latest installment of the Stephen Fry documentary about language and was pleased to see that the episode's subject matter was on story telling. Of which a large part - unsurprisingly - was focused on Shakespeare.
            A good portion was devoted to the study of what is arguably the most famous line in the English language, 'To be or...'
            It doesn't matter how many times one potters around with a complete works - it all comes back to that line.            

            It made me feel positively guilty, thinking of how much I've stressed over Sir A's, 'I was adored...' line, when one thinks of the agony that actors lucky enough to play the young Prince must go through when tackling that particular passage.
            Fingers crossed that one day I do!
            Monday morning, I left home. The Tardis was refilled and we both said goodbye to the Kingy brigade.
            It'll only be a couple of weeks till I see them again, so that's another thing to look forward to.

            Moreton Hall was unrecognisable. To say that the technical team had pulled off a miracle would be an understatement and belittle all their hard work. The place really had been transformed. It was a Theatre. A theatre created, completely from scratch.

            'Moreton Hall Sports Hall'.
            How about:
            'The Rhys King Coliseum'

            Definitely better.

            Having foolishly volunteered myself to the Cuckoo - going above and beyond the call of duty - he made full use of my uncharacteristic willingness and put me to good use, flyering the town.
            Unfortunately for me, the theatrics didn't quite stop there. He insisted that I do it, dressed as a priest.
            As we later found, this was of little use as it turned out that no one knew the play, so instead thought that the local Cathedral were putting on a Charity Show. I was not amused.
            I was even less amused when, four hours later, hyperthermia had set in due to the perishing cold of the wintery winds.
            A highlight of the afternoon was handing a lady on a mobility scooter a leaflet, 'See How They Run, playing all this week at the Moreton Hall Sports Hall.' I chirped with over energetic enthusiasm.
            'Er, no thank you,' she replied, returning the flyer, 'I don't like running.

            I see.

            When my work as a leafleter had ceased (everyone that I was trying to give them to, had already been lynched 5 minutes earlier) I rejoined the gang back at the Hall to help with any jobs that were still on the To Do list.

            Lots of the tasks were dependent on my skills with gaffa tape - advanced diploma - and tying knots - 1st degree.
            In fact the Hippodrome's philosophy of, 'If you don't know how to tie a knot; tie lots of them', has never been better realised.
            I think that we knew that we needed to stop for the night when, whilst hoisting up the finishing touches to the canopy, Tom declared, with the utmost sincerity, "For fuck sake, you're not doing it right! The whole point of Bunting is that it sags in the middle! Without the sag, it's useless!"
            I was staying at Dovedon hall again, thanks to Gill and Mole's incredible hospitality and conked out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
            It was an early rise on Tuesday morning. I gently pressed my puffy eyes and with irritation realised that all the relaxation of the previous week had been instantaneously evaporated. BBC radio Suffolk were in, interviewing a few of the guys and as the Cuckoo was my only way of getting to the theatre, it meant that I was along for the ride. On top of that, the interviewer had requested that a dog be there for the chat (a dog? radio? yes. I thought the same...), and the only way that was going to happen would be by using Al's dog, Pudding. The only problem was that Pudding has never been apart from his brother, Oscar. So, there I was, in the backseat, babysitting two smelly, farting dogs for the car journey to the Hall and back.
            To help matters, OM2 decided to stop working for a bit.
            After the interview and dog detours, the Cuckoo and I flew about town, sorting all the loose ends that needed tying before the evening's first performance and said goodbye to Craig at the train station - who had also been helping.
             The cast arrived in the afternoon and were suitably impressed with what had been achieved with the space. We'd been called for a television slot which had unfortunately fallen through in the final minutes before we had arrived, but still had a photo shoot to do for one of the local papers.
            Shoot, done, we sorted any last minute issues and were left with the space to warm up in.
            The electricity generator tripped out quarter of an hour before the start of the show, sending us all into a downward spiral of panic. Thankfully, it was fixed within minutes, but the uncertainty had already lodged its small seed of worry into us, ready and rearing to start the show with.
            The first half was remarkably smooth, the only adjustment or strangeness being how close the audience seemed to us. A bit like when we were in Windsor, only, instead of looking out at a scaling sea of rising people, we had a marquee.
            The real drama came at the beginning of the second half. We were poised in the wings, ready to rush on for the act, when the Jenny tripped out... Again.
            And again.
            And again.
            That's right, three attempts later, we decided to just plow on and hope for the best.
            I had my eyes, fingers and testicles crossed.
            By some miracle of nature, the power came back on and instead of hitting the cue to go back to black out, Lucy walked onto the stage, still shaking like a paint mixer on the floor with laughter - and the girls assembled around her, in full view of the audience, stifling their smiles with everything they had, and began the third act.
            The rest as they say is history.
            In that one performance, Moreton Hall became the stuff of Legends and has reserved its place as a rather long chapter in our collective biographies.
            Oh, and I somehow got a stone stuck in my forehead just before my final exit.
            There was no corpsing.
            Unfortunately, even back at the Whatley family residence, the day hadn't quite ended for me.
            I was doomed to a night of nose blowing and fevers. Yep, the cold was back - and this time, it meant business.
            I coughed, spluttered and wheezed my way through the night, tormented by actor's nightmares and was only spared the endless irritations by getting up with a NOSE BLEED and conceding defeat.
            I can safely say that I felt like shit.

            We had a matinee to tackle as well, which I struggled my way through with about as much enthusiasm as a man on the steps of the guillotine. My Auntie Julie and Uncle Steve were in watching though, so I was hell-bent on making sure they saw me on top form. Unfortunately, the door handle decided to stop working for my first entrance, turning my 'stealthy' entrance into a banging scramble. Cuckoo was left treading water on stage, by repetitively saying into the phone, "hello......... hello... hello. heloo. hello................hello." Well covered Mr. Garrick.

            Eventually I yanked it open and leaped on - defeated before I'd even begun.
            The Jenny tripped again at the same point at the start of the second half. Luckily, the technical team were ready and waiting for any potential problems and covered the glitch within seconds.
            When the matinee was over and we'd eaten for tea, I met Mum and Dad at the front of the venue to say hello before the start of the show. My sister, Tayla was in too with her boyfriend Jonny, who was going to be losing his 'play-watching v-plates.' Exciting stuff.

            They loved the show, which I had predicted and by the sound of thing the rest of the audience - which had doubled in capacity compared to the pre-bookings of the day before - were as enamored as they were.

            I was very excited when I got up on Thursday - thanks to overmedicating, my cold had been eradicated for one, which was reason to celebrate in itself:
            A friend, Adam Best who I'd worked with on Journey's End was visiting to see the show and was determined to be having a nice drink in the evening with him. There aren't enough expletives in the English language to describe Adam, so will suffice it to say that he is a very good friend and the most perfect Irish stereotype in the land.
            We went for a nice pub lunch before meeting him and pottered round a local arts and crafts sale that - conveniently - sold nothing but pottery.
            When we got back to the house, I revisited an old memory and snuggled myself down in front of a snippity fire and watched a film with the gang.
             When we got to the venue, I met Adam and (after some prompting) congratulated him on his recent engagement.
            It must be a year since I saw him last, but, as with all good friendships, it doesn't matter how much time may pass; it's like walking to School, something done so often and with such familiarity that it becomes a second nature.
            That being said, I still hate his very being with a passion.
            What a show he got to see too.
            I don't know whether it was us who were particularly good - but my bet is that it was the audience who excelled that night. We had another standing ovation too which really sealed the show as one of our best.
            In celebration - and because we'd already planned it - we went into town for a decent night out, to let our hair down and enjoy ourselves.
            We visited a pub called the Chocolate Bar, which is run by a couple who had kindly come to see the show on the first night. We were delighted to be able to give them our business in return and would recommend the bar to anyone looking for a nice place to drink in Bury.
            There's a few things that I wrote down that evening, to remember to write about the following morning, but alas, the alcohol has zapped those memories away - instead I have only a list of confusing sentences:

            'Night Out.
            Getting naked with an average cock.
            Jekyll and Hyde.
            Rampant Rabbit.
            Cotton Clothes.'

            Make of them what you will.
            To round up the night, we got a taxi back to the house and was amazed to get all the way as Shiv probed the taxi driver on his sexuality, marital status and working morality.
            In fact, I'd go as far as to say that I think he liked us?
            Back in the house, we stayed up a little longer and the Cuckoo cooked for us; Sausages, Posh Beans (beans with herbs and a gallon on Lea and Perrins) and Steamed Cabbage with fennel seeds...

            That's right, you read correctly.

            At 3:00am we were eating STEAMED CABBAGE WITH FENNEL SEEDS.

            Everyone surfaced rather late on the Friday. Shiv later said that she woke up at seven, took off her make up and went back to bed. Tom had an eventful evening too, deciding to let Adam sleep in his room and crash in the dressing room instead. The problem came when Mole came through in the morning, half naked, wanting to get ready for court.
            Silly Hackney.
            Adam had to get off quickly, so in a whirlwind of goodbyes, he left the house to train it back to London.
            In the afternoon, we went for a walk around the nearby countryside. Shiv commented on how quintessentially English is was - something that I completely take for granted.
            We passed a nearby stately home called, the Rotunda and ate in the nearby food hall. But, with time ticking on, we didn't have long to savour the experience and made our way back to the house to leave for the evening show.
            My Auntie Debbie and Uncle Peter were in, watching the performance and made sure that I saw them as soon as they arrived.
            Another part of the Kingy Clan.
            They loved the show and afterwards, the cast all stuck around to give me a bit of extra time with them to natter.
            Thank you team.
            The Cuckoo cooked breakfast for us on Saturday morning (more posh beans) which was actually very good - despite him using every herb in the house. Tom said, "nothing that he cooks tastes like you expect it to taste."
            True dat, true.
            My Nanny Pam and her friends were in for the Matinee, who were actually a very lively little bunch; another one of those worthwhile matinee occasions. Few and far between!
            A group of us went for dinner in between shows and afterwards, in the dressing rooms, founded the two, new, warring tour parties; LGF (the League of Bodily Functions) and LATH (the League Against Toilet Humour). I, of course have been announced as the enemy and head of the troublesome LGF party, with Ducky as my associate stinker. Arthur, on the other hand is Director and Chief of the opposition, with a determined Cuckoo as his side-kick.
            All I can say, gentlemen, is that though you may have started this war - I'll be damned if I don't END it.

            The evening show was a strange one really. The audience started off, like all Saturday night crowds, very reserved, but by the last act, were quite the raucous crowd. We even were lucky enough to receive our second standing ovation of the week, the front row leaping to their feet before the lights had even gone down on the act.

            After hobnobbing with the punters at the end of the night, we went for a couple more drinks in the Chocolate Bar for one last Hurrah and to say thank you to them entertaining us in Bury.
            We didn't last long mind. The effort of the week had sapped us and we all admitted that what we were most looking forward to, was our beds. Our warm, comfy beds, that Gill and Mole have so kindly provided us with nothing more than loving grace for the past seven days.
            It's been a hell of a week here in Bury.
            The audiences may have been slim on the ground and I maintain my opinion that it is a travesty that the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds is yet to support this home grown local theatre company, but the people that did come - as Arthur put it - were pioneers.
            A theatre, made completely from scratch.
            All singing, all dancing.
            We proved, it could be done.
            We proved, it should have be done
            And what's more, we gave a week's worth of entertainment to the Bury St Edmunds public, that ordinarily, they might not have had.
            We hope you enjoyed it if you came to visit us and are aware of our immense appreciation of your attendance, despite getting lost trying to navigate yourselves around our muddy parking field...

            I only hope that next time you see us, you'll be entering an auditorium, taking a seat, looking at a proscenium arch - in the Theatre Royal, where the company deserves to be. 

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