Sunday, 27 November 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On - Week 18


         Spoiler alert - in this week's blog there will be an injury...
            Sunday was a big day. A big, big, big day. It was the day that I finally moved back to London. It was the day that another new chapter of my life began.
            It's been four months since I was last here. Four months since my mail has been addressed here, but a hell of a long time since I've had a 'home' here.
            I arrived, fresh from Worthing at about midday on Sunday and stood, smiling up at the place that I would be laying my hat for the next two years... To say that I was excited would be a massive understatement.

The Housemates
            I was welcomed into the house by my good friends and new housemates, Tom, Sal and Jen; elbow deep in work, getting their things into place, filling the cupboards, wardrobes and nooks, with everything that they could. I could only look on - as my stuff won't be arriving till the end of the tour - but offered my assistance whenever I could.
            Tea-duty it was...
            I also did a reccy of the neighborhood and was delighted to find that not only was there a plethora of lovely little shops nearby, but there was also a pub AND a wine merchant just around the corner. I was the epitome of a happy bunny.
            The rest of the afternoon and the following day were spent in the same way; scouting out household must haves and starting to make the place our place. And, aside from a strange dead person smell that I've had to tackle in my room, it all went relatively drama-free.
            It's quite creepy that in such a short amount of time, the place looks like we've been there for years. And - luckily - having an equal ratio of boys to girls, we don't run the risk of the place becoming too blokey or pink.
            Not that I could ever imagine that of Jen or Sal anyway!
            Tuesday was the first day that I was home alone.
            I decided to do a bit of food shopping and cook for the house. All the guys being at work gave me a good insight into what it'll be like when I'm back here - in the New Year. I don't mind the quiet during the day. Being conditioned to doing a show in the evenings - I'm a self-confessed night bird and as long as I get to be sociable when the light starts to fade, I function with my own company pretty well.
            When they got back to the house after a long day at work, we whiled away the evening lounging after dinner with a bottle of wine, candlelight and good chat.

            I will be honest - I wasn't ready to leave.
            I slept poorly and woke early on Wednesday morning. I repacked poor old, tired Tardis and hawled his heavy ass away from the warm, comfortable confines of the house and embarked on our journey to Buxton.
            Thankfully, Buxton is fucking beautiful. I've played the theatre twice before and both times have loved the experience. It's another Frank Matcham creation and - as such - it's always such a pleasure to perform in. It's also a well-run venue and the technical team had enjoyed a fluid get in and focus session.
            When all the cast had arrived, we got on with a line run in prep of the evening show. Aside from the odd mind freeze, it was pretty consistent. Again, it's a while since we've performed it so it's forgivable and I don't think anyone lost any sleep over it.
            The show itself was fairly solid. Doing a play that one has toured with is a bit like riding a bike for the first time in years. One 'never forgets' how to ride said bike - but the excellence in riding that one once had in youth, is founded in confidence. It seems to me that the first time that we have performed either play over the past 4 months - that first time is always tinged with a stain of trepidation.
            That all being said, I think that it was a good show. The audience certainly seemed to respond so and afterwards, we shared a bottle of champagne in the dressing rooms with a few of Shiv's friends and we FINALLY met Leo's lovely wife, Anne.
            And I can assure you Anne, he may call me Weasel, but we definitely call him worse.
            We then went to the pub for a nightcap, talked football and turned in for the night. Cuckoo managed to book a terrific little house for our stay here, which the two of us, Shiv and Ducky will all be staying in for the duration.

            On Thursday, there was little to do but prepare for the matinee and grab some food before the show.
            I wasn't very pleased with my performance. There was no reason that I can recollect for feeling so, just one of those irrational, personal irks that consume and irritate.
            I read in between shows and galvanized myself to do a better job in the evening show.            
            Thankfully, in my humble opinion, I think that I did. There was a group of A-level students in watching, who seemed to particularly identify/sympathise with Andrew, which made me - in turn - feel better about myself. It once again reminded me what a wonderful part Agucheek is and how fortunate I am to have had the chance to play him.

            Friday was a quiet day up until the late afternoon.
            We did little with the day as the rain gently dropped on the cobbled streets outside. The heating was turned up high, the lights dimmed and an afternoon of Mad Men ensued.
            When we finally pulled ourselves out from our hovel, we walked into town, to the Pavilion, beside the theatre to peruse around the Buxton Christmas fair. I didn't buy anything, but predictably the Duck did - purchasing one of the tackiest gifts that I have ever seen.
            Shaun - I don't want to poo poo your present, but it's total shit I'm afraid.
            We had a lovely crowd in for the evening show and got a taste of a real Northern audience - generous on laughs and up for a giggle. It's a shame really that we haven't been up north at all for the duration of the tour. With only Berwick left to play, it would have been nice to tour the country more extensively as I have done on others, but - hey ho - you get what you're given.
            After the show we - predictably - went for a few drinks and nattered away into the evening.
            Adrian (the Artistic Director of Black Eyed Theatre and one of the producers of George III) said to me when I saw him in Bracknell, that he sometimes reads the blog to remember what it's like to go out every evening partying. Mate - tomorrow I'll raise a glass for you. Enjoy.
            Saturday was eventful.
            Nothing much happened in the morning to warrant noting. We began the matinee performance in front of a lovely large audience who had turned up for an afternoon of fun and we took just as much delight in giving them what they'd paid for. The interval approached and -
            Uh oh.
            There was a flurry of commotion.
            I sat in my dressing room suddenly confused at the hubbub.
            I rose and made my way to the wings.
            Uh oh.

            Cuckoo was on the floor, surrounded by cast and crew.
            He lay perfectly still.
            What the fuck had happened.
            Rewind one minute earlier...

            The end of the first half was approaching fast. Shiv, shouted out the line, 'Quickly - run - RUN!' David responded, 'I'm running!' Al began chasing, he leaped over Lucy who as per usual is flat on the floor, came back down to earth and  - wait a minute.
            According to the Cuckoo, when his feet hit the ground, something in his back went and as he managed the last few steps off the stage, his legs gave way underneath him and he hit the deck.
            For all those who are concerned I should perhaps make clear straight away that the Cuckoo IS OK and that he (despite a very uncomfortable day) was able to complete both shows and the audience would have been none the wiser. At points, we were seriously worried about him - his face at times turned a sickly talcum white on numerous occasions - and, after I carried him off in the fireman's carry I thought that he was going to faint, but he soldiered on and I am proud to say that he did a better job than many others would have done in his position.

            I remember reading an article once in praise of the theatre actor's code of conduct: 'an unrivalled passion, belonging to a team, strident standards and a deep rooted hatred in the confines of health and safety.'

            Sometimes in this world, we have to go above and beyond the call of duty.

            Cuckoo, mate, I hope you know that you've ticked that box and we all respect you very much for it.

            Ps. But if you think for one second that I'm going to be waiting on you all week and carrying your stupid big bird bags...

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