Send in the clowns

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Well we're up and running, I say running but maybe I mean stumbling. The show is going down incredibly well but we are injuries agogo. Our Romeo put his back out by dying with too much gusto, there's a couple of husky voices, two streaming colds, a gash to the forehead, a slice to a finger, I've burnt my arm on my vocal steamer – and on our final show last week Tybalt took a bad step and sprained her ankle during a sword fight. Poor old Gabi was relegated to her dressing room for the second half as Benvolio used the interval to learn her Apothecary lines and deliver Romeo's mortal drugs with the air of a mysterious squirrel.

As her understudy, I am crossing my fingers and toes for a speedy recovery; Tybalt's awesome bad ass sword fights will be decidedly less badass with me wielding the weapons. Less weapons of mass destruction and more mass amusement. Gabi is extremely frustrated at not being able to go for a complete fight. Once again, I am struck by how frustrating it is when your own body betrays you. The more you try and push these things by overcompensating and battling your way through a show, the more damage you do. Sometimes the best thing is just a good rest.

So yes, our tour thus far has been a bit of a Comedy of Errors. In example I ask you the question: How many actors does it take to haul a set lorry out of a muddy ditch?

Answers on a post card...

We spent two weeks in Portsmouth bitching and moaning that the shower in our room was broken to discover on the final day it was just, um, turned off. Twice we have been stranded in car parks as respective plonkers have run away with the keys to the van at the end of a long day (happily, the second time this happened our director splashed out for a Chinese – which we devoured in a scene akin to a documentary on eating habits in the Serengeti).

[pullquote]You know that moment where you have to gauge the audience for the second curtain call? Do we? Don't we?[/pullquote]

On one occasion, my dear roomie accidentally locked her only shoes in the chap's bedroom, meaning she had to walk to her glamorous job at the theatre in her socks. Well not even her socks. They were my socks. Oh let me tell you, we did not look too foxy hot(socked)footing it that morning, laden with bath towels for our showers at the theatre, studiously studying the pavement for broken glass and dog poo. If our friends could see us now, eh?

I think the fatigue may be getting to us a bit. Tired is an understatement. With an opening, three theatres and three get ins and get outs we had a lot of sleepy actors at the end of last week.

So a couple of days off was very much appreciated for some recuperation. Then back on the road. Tonight we are up in Peterborough at the gorgeous Key Theatre. The staff are wonderfully helpful (including assisting in truck hauling), the space gives us loads of room to play with and the acoustics are awesome- the audience really 'come to you' here. After waiting fifteen minutes for a coachload of teenagers that had broken down we open to a packed and very enthusiastic house. With the benefit of a good rest, and a lovely relaxed day at the theatre this is my favourite show so far; there's a good energy and we're having fun (well, until people start dying – it is Romeo and Juliet after all.) And then all of a sudden it's over and it's time for the bows.

You know that moment where you have to gauge the audience for the second curtain call? Do we? Don't we? At that point this evening we um and we ah – for too long. The applause is beginning to subside. Over on Stage Left we look across to the other wing and the other half of the cast – leave it, surely (oh, how I hate the second bow at the best of times). But no: someone on the other side of the stage has made an executive decision. On we go!

On for the second bow!

On we push our Juliet… Alone, and to silence, as we realise the crowd has made the decision for us. They've finished.

We cowards behind the leading lady retreat hastily, happy not to have made it out of the gate. Poor old Kat Gibson was just out of the wings on her lonesome, did a panicked double take at the audience, ducked and ran back behind the tabs. Brilliant.

Still, touring a Comedy of Errors is much better than touring a Titus Andronicus... all limbs accounted for!

Gemma Barrett has been writing for The Stage Grads' Club for three years, and is currently touring with Icarus Theatre Collective.

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