Knowing that our time at Moreton Hall was done and dusted, it took us all a little longer than usual to drag ourselves from bed.
I woke at my usual earlier Sunday hour and sat up in bed for a few hours writing and catching up on the week that had flown past in a blur of autumnal swirl. I tucked up the covers, close under my chin, enjoying the light burn of the cold air fighting against the warmth of the arms of my skin until I finished all that I needed to do and voyaged downstairs to complete the last of the finishing touches.
Gill decided to pick the winning raffle that had been taken over the last week and was agog to find that my Uncle Peter had won!
He had kindly said when he picked his numbers, that if he won, to pass the winning money on to the bar's profits, so Cuckoo stood on, with a very wide grin on his face.
Mole had a horse of his, racing on the TV, so we all sat in the snug and watched the event as it unfurled:
'Swing-Alone' was the name of the horse and we watched on as he bucked and kicked as all the other jockeys had long ago mounted. Eventually he calmed, having had more airtime in five minutes than a regular in a nightly soap opera and was rushed into the starting gates in the blink of an eye. The gates opened and off he ran.
He started off amazingly well. Too well in fact. He left all the other contenders in his wake and had his head in front of the crowd. By the final push though, he had run out of steam and we all looked on as he gently drifted from 1st, to second to last. Mole seemed quite happy though, so we didn't feel too bad about enjoying a little giggle.
Afterwards, we left the house and went for lunch.
It was the same place that Al, Tom and I had visited a few weeks ago and we were not to be disappointed. The food was wonderful and we toasted a great week in Bury and a lovely stay with Gill and Mole in Dovedon Hall.
In the evening, I lit a fire and we all sat, warm and cosy whiling away the evening in front of the TV.
With my eyes, square from the night before, I woke on Monday morning and repeated my almost ritualistic packing of the Tardis. Strangely, he seems to have lost weight - I noticed, heaving him downstairs - either that, or I'm getting stronger..?
Tardis is getting lighter.
We said goodbye to Bury and hugged and thanked Gill for being such a wonderful host. After a week of a house FULL of actors, I'm sure it'll be quite a nice thing for her to have her home back to herself!
And don't worry Gill - I'll make sure the Cuckoo calls the AA.
We pulled out of Dovedon Hall, whiled our way down the country lanes and detoured to Newmarket for a spot of lunch with the Mole and a friend of his. Geoffrey, is an old chum of Michaels and, after seeing the show on Friday evening, was keen to discuss with Al how to help the company and secure some outside funding. He was a fascinating man, dancing between wickedly infectious smiles and instantaneous stillness - like a puppet being thrust into life. He offered some very sound advice and between the Mole and himself, I hope that they can find something or someone to help out. A Cuckoo only has two wings after all...
Having eaten, we thanked Geoffrey for lunch and said goodbye to Mole, sure that we would be seeing him again soon, in Buxton. He is yet to see Twelfth Night and - seeing as he played Maria when he was younger - I'm sure he's keen to see the part done without a penis.
Speedy, you'd better be on top form...
We hit the road again and passed the time listening to music. Music, which (thank God), was from my ipod as opposed to Al's. You see, the Cuckoo has, without a doubt, the worst taste in music that I have EVER come across. It's almost the stuff of Legends. To give an example, when playing Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing', the Cuckoo said:
"This is Glee."
"No it's not." I replied.
"Yes it is." He insisted.
"No it's NOT." I demanded. "This is the ORIGINAL. The one that Glee ripped off."
"Ah." He conceded. "Glee's is better."
Another example would be this; I asked both Shiv and the Cuckoo, which musical act - alive or dead - they would choose to see.
Cuckoo - The Corrs
I think I've made my point.
As we rolled into Eastbourne, pitch black at 5 O’clock, I found it difficult to believe that it's been two and a half months since we were last here. Even typing it, I find my face screwing up into a paper ball at the thought of it. Can it really be possible that we only have a month left on the road?
I sought out my digs and was pleased to see that it was a cute, ramshackle place ten minutes from town. What's more, I'm sure that I must have set a new record for 'number of digs stayed in on tour, with cats' - in this one alone, there are three of them!
I spoke briefly to my landlady, Romana and then left to enjoy an evening being wined and dined by Ms. O'Kelly and Mr. Whatley.
(Shiv cooked and Al presented.)
After a gorgeous dinner, we flicked on the box and watched Love Actually. Lovely stuff.
When I got back to my digs, I was perturbed to find two of the cats, curled up on my bed.
They didn't remain there long, I assure you and once they were 'removed' I curled up in bed for a good kip before the next day's return to Twelfth Night.
When I was about to leave the house the next morning, I came into brief contact with my landlord's son, a recently redundant professional dog walker, who had broken his leg...
I shit you not.
He was knee deep in a computer game when I saw him, pumping a few rounds of ammunition into his cybernetic foe. "Hi." he said and instantly returned his attention to the pixilated bloodbath.
I went into town to search for a book shop.
The Original Theatre Company's upcoming production of Our Country's Good is just around the corner and I'm one of the lucky few, being auditioned for it - so I need a script to take a look over. However, the ONE Waterstones that I found had nothing but Shakespeare and the less said about W.H.Smith the better.
I conceded defeat and ordered it online instead, multi-tasking whilst eating a pizza on my lonesome in a little Italian place.
We had a run of the play before the evening's show. It's been an age since we did it last, so it seemed the wisest thing to do. It was typically bad and - in honesty - exactly what we needed to get the blood pumping for the evening performance.
I went for ANOTHER meal prior to the start of the show and felt particularly guilty about having spent so much money on so little in just one day. But - what the body wants, the body wants...
The evening show was brilliant. It was so nice to kick off the stint in Eastbourne with a good'un - it gave us all confidence and the faith that we were after, having not performed it in so long. We enjoyed complimentary drinks with the Friends of the Theatre afterwards, who gushed about the show and then we all went on to the Cavalier, where I FINALLY completed a personal promise to take a picture of 'The Fish'.
Yes, here it is, the stuff of touring legend, the one fish that all on its own breaks any number of RSPCA regulations.
I manned the jukebox for a good hour or so, until the Cuckoo took over and things took a distinct turn for the worse. Luckily there was no Bwitched available, but we were instead subjected to back-to-back Westlife tracks. Bad big bird.
Wednesday, we were in at noon for the matinee. I was actually relishing the chance to try out the show again, so didn't mind too much at having to give up the afternoon. Thankfully, they were a really responsive crowd, which made it all worthwhile. New things are being found, moments are being added and altered. We are getting a chance to really explore the play, just as we have with See How They Run and I must admit that I'm giddy with it. It is SUCH an AMAZING play - just when I think that the show has settled and we have decided on the correct path of playing, something changes and turns my entire perception of it on its head. It's a play that just gives and gives and gives. Funny, sad, infuriating, melancholic, euphoric - it's everything and more.
Psyched with the success of the matinee, I was disappointed to realise a flaw in our original plan to continue where we left off, with the matinee swim club. For those of you that don't remember, when we were last here in Eastbourne (summer) we had insisted on going for an afternoon dip in the sea in between shows on matinee days. We had also promised ourselves that when we returned - despite it verging on winter time - that we would continue said tradition. What we hadn't taken into consideration, was the light. Or rather, the lack of light. Yep, swim time came and we realised that it was pitch black.
"We went in when it was dark once before." Said the Cuckoo.
"Yes," I replied, "when we were totally tanked."
So, alas, matinee swim club was not to be.
Instead I went for dinner with Arthur and fell to coffee to spur me like the sea did before.
When I got back to the theatre, a great review for the show had come in from What's On Stage, who had seen the show the previous evening. With confidence pulsing and energies at a high we leapt into the evening show and hit the hard concrete at the bottom of the pool.
The audience were small. Small and quiet. Very quiet. Comedy is a traumatic thing to do when there is no response. And unlike tragic moments, which silence is expected - to wait for a laugh that doesn't come is a debilitating thing.
My neuroses returned.
After the show we licked our wounds with a drink.
On Thursday morning, I read aloud in the bath. I find that it's near on impossible to properly enjoy reading a play without being able to hear the words. That being said, it means that it takes me forever to get through one as I read, re-read and analyse every other sentence. I was also quick to stop when I heard my landlady return with her daughter who were mid-way through a blazing row. Time to escape.
So, I went to the theatre, I ate a simple lunch and set to work. The stage was free and - along with the safety curtain being down - it made for a nice little hideaway. I just hope the Tannoy wasn't on...
No one teaches you how to do a good audition. Much like the first day of rehearsals, you arrive and meet a room of people you don't know, stumble through a play you may have barely read and strive to impress. All in one meeting. The same can surely be said for auditions.
The only difference is that in a rehearsal, one learns what is good and bad. The good stuff is kept and the bad stuff is lost.
In an audition - you have no idea.
In fact, the only time when you know that you've done good is if you're offered a job!
I, therefore always try to put in as much time as possible in preparing for the day as possible. It may mean learning the odd passage here and there that hasn't been asked for, but at the end of the day; you only get one shot.
So, I spent a day in darkness, pacing and tittering over and over again until I was happy. I've three scenes to prepare and three days till the audition so, in my mind, that's one a day.
When the company started to arrive I was surprised to see that it was pitch black outside. They were also soaking wet from the rain that had been pouring down, which I, had avoided!
It wasn't our best show in the evening. There were a few technical glitches, which irritated things, and I didn't feel that I'd done a particularly good performance, which is always frustrating to know.
After the show, we were cordially invited to chez Shiv and Al, for an evening of drinks and nibbles. We all had a great time and apart from a very poorly Neil (Leo's alter-ego) all the cast were present.
I write this passage still quite drunk, so it must have been a good night though am still wondering why my jeans smell so strongly of Gin?
I woke early on Friday and repeated the same day as before; the theatre, script work, the play.
By the time the show came around I was a bit zombified - having had little to no human contact all day.
I decided to do something that I haven't done in a long time...
A warm up.
That's right, R. D. King did a vocal warm up before the show. And, I must admit, it paid dividends. I would even go as far as to say that I think it was the best show, as Aguecheek that I've done. The lines felt fresh, new and zippy and, what is more, when one person starts to feel that way, it often has a knock on effect with the rest of the cast.
By the end of the show, I was cream crackered and wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed and surrender to sleep. Etiquette however meant that I went to the pub for a nightcap.
Who'd want to be an actor?
Saturday was a day of two shows. The day is a bit of a blur for me as I now write this on Sunday having had little to no sleep.
I DO remember eating for one last time in our favourite restaurant, 'Pomodoro e Mozzarella' and going for a nice long walk along the sea front. I've really enjoyed being back in Eastbourne. It's been an utter JOY having the opportunity to really delve into the depths of Twelfth Night and I don't think that it would be unfair to say that the show has improved in so many ways, having had a week to explore it in a way that we haven't had the time to do so before. We've now got a week and a half off until we start back in Worthing with See How They Run.
I can't believe how quickly the tour has gone.
I'm now in Stratford. I'm sat next to my half-naked, ample fleshed, alcohol-stinking mate, about to enjoy a day in London with a few life-long friends before journeying back to Norfolk tomorrow night.
It's the final stint.
The last leg...
I'm a bit sad about it to be honest.