Monthly Archives: November 2004

Thursday – A Dizziness Takes Hold

Audience: 2 extra rows of seats, mainly empty, but it’s the thought that counts.

Friends in: 5! Thanks Cassie, Daneeta, Rachel, Eirian and of course Mairi, hope you enjoyed it!

Well, that was a good one! The audience actually did stuff like laugh, move about, clap and so on. Must be something in the water.

Tonight’s victim, picked from the cream of the back row (no Director’s plants tonight) reacted fantastically. My line, “And you’re for me, you.”, got the reaction, “Oh god.”, which had them rolling in the aisles. She disappeared pretty quickly after the show…

The JMB was deadly serious tonight. No crying children, no muttered threats, just a stunned silence. Nasty.

In fact the whole show was most effective. And it went down a storm. So well in fact, that we were forced to go to the pub. As I was standing at the bar, getting a round, I heard a voice…

“…and whatever he’s having.”

I looked round to see group of burly men at the bar next to me, with the leader (the burliest) indicating me to the barman. This never having happened to me before, I was rather taken aback. I did the usual chest-pointing and eyebrow-raising to ascertain it was me he was referring to. It was. I said to him, “I’m buying a round for my friends here…”, but he cut in with, “That’s fine, what do they want?”. It was like that bit in The Shining, “Your money’s no good here, Mr. Torrance”. “I like to know who’s buying my drinks, Lloyd”.

It turned out he and his gang were colleagues of the battered Jayne, and they were so impressed with the show that they were buying the whole cast a drink. Most kind. And fatal. Bees round a honeypot, I tell you. Having a round bought for you because you entertained someone briefly – brings a tear to my eye. A Round of Applause! Har har.

No applause ever felt sweeter. Of course, this is the slippery slope. First it’s free drinks, then come the drugs and getting smacked off your box on ecstasy pipes, the next thing you know you wake up in a bathtub full of ice, barely able to bid for your own kidneys on Ebay.

But it’s early days yet. Jethro didn’t order Stella, curiously enough. He’s not method, clearly.

Talking of booze, my creation Alan Dresden now pleads with the landlord for a drink. Maybe he needs a backstory. Perhaps one that involves eating a banana. Right Katy?

A Review Of Wednesday’s Show

Wow, thanks so much for a stunning show last night. Me and my flatmates were amused, moved, gobsmacked and sometimes scared. I laughed, I cried. Everyone of you was fantastic; spot on.There was so much tension and humour – often at the same time! … The best theatre I’ve seen for ages, congratulations to you all … brilliant!

High praise indeed – let’s hope it stays this good!

Here’s another review, while we’re feeling it.

A friend of my husband came to see Two and was thoroughly impressed and enjoyed himself immensely, so much so that could not stop congratulating on everyone’s performance after the show and also sent me a text the following morning saying once again how much he had enjoyed it.
This Friday just passed I met him again, and commented once again on Two and said that only the previous night he went along to some other fringe type theatre production to watch a performance which was staged by professional actors. He said, and he really does only ever speak the truth from his heart, that we were by far much better than the professionals! So how good is that then? Well done to you all once again, the praise still keeps coming!
I also have just returned from visiting my Mum and Dad this weekend up in Suffolk, and she too mentioned how good the play was and thought it was the best thing she had seen the Carlton do (please bear in mind she has been supporting the Carlton for the past 11 years!) can’t be bad eh?

Wednesday – Deeper Down

Audience: 42!

Audience Reaction: Welcome To The Dead Zone

Right, we’re getting into it now. The timing of the dance is good, the backstage routine is settling, and all is well in the state of Merton.

I went for hair overload tonight – great wodges of ‘texturizing gum’, bouffed up into a Mozzer quiff, then sprayed liberally with – what appears to be gold glitter – Blonde spray (Thanks Jayne!) It is a righteous look, and one I could get used to. Maybe.

My victim this evening was another plant by the Director – this time someone approaching my age. She reacted very well, at one stage leaning over to Debs, next to her, and whispering, “I’ll kill you for this”. I was tempted to ask her if her friend wanted to join us, but ad-libbing when things are going fine is just asking for trouble.

The excitement and intercom distortion can give rise to hearing problems for many cast members, causing them to mishear their co-actors lines. A couple of examples from tonights performance:

  • “Clingfilm Torquay.” – you’ll get no Wotsits if you carry on like that.
  • “Myth Men! Greek Men! Love ya!” – Hercules! Come on!
  • “I carry him down. I carry him up. I p*ss all over my hands.” – why, love, why?

Also backstage we can play the fun game of picking out the front of house music, who it’s by, and why it was chosen. There seems to be a booze theme. Funny that…

  • Happy Hour by The Housemartins. Pretty obvious.
  • Red Eyes Is Back by The Beautiful South. Uh-huh, figures.
  • When I’m Sixty-Four by The Beatles. Fred & Alice?
  • Constant Craving by k d lang. If this means alcohol, this can only refer to the Director.

We tried to come up with some more suggestions for the ‘Herding Soundtrack’:

  • Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy. Featuring the contraversial sample from the Ultramagnetics’ Dr Octagon, of course. For Roy and Lesley.
  • The Greatest Dancer by Sister Sledge. For Moth and Maudie. “Oh … what … wow!”
  • Whisky In The Jar by Thin Lizzy.
  • Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot. For Mrs Iger – change the butt references to men references. OK, a bit tenuous and labour-intensive. This is not a full time job!

It’s always good to know you are entertaining your audience. And the best barometer of excitement is when the audience don’t fall asleep.

We’re clearly not doing a very good job, because there he was, in the front row, snoring and belching his way through both Acts. The Phantom Sleeping Theatre-Goer of The Broadway. Some say he is a myth, a legend, but I have seen him! With my own eyes! And heard him! And smelt him! And they call me a fool!

The rest of the rabble audience started to liven up in the second Act. Fred & Alice went down well, they obviously struck a familiar chord. Many of the audience had clearly seen the inside of “the white place with the closed doors”. JMB (Jethro’s Mighty Blow) got a stunned silence, broken only by the sound of a child crying. Chalk one up to Jethro!

I’ve been starting to feel a bit under the weather. Bit sniffly. Bit of a sore throat. The hard work and nerves take their toll on my immune system. So, according to advice, I’m taking what Dr Timothy Leary would have call ‘heroic doses’ of vitamin C and zinc. In addition, I’ve been told to take extract of echidna, but London Zoo said they’d call the police if I hung around any more.

Item! I now have 3 – count ’em – 1-2-3 roles! Moth (the one with lines), Frank (the forgetter of children), and now we are proud to introduce Alan Dresden (he who wants after-hours booze). You see, when you are a chameleon of theatre like me, a simple change of hat is all that is required to change my identity.

Behold! I am someone else!

First Night – And They’re Off!

Tonight’s Anthem: Take The Long Way Home by Supertramp.

Friends in Audience: 0

Time to let the punters see what we’ve been doing for the last couple of months. Time to let them in. Take their money, sell them their programme and their drink, and sit them down. There was a respectable number of them, too, 30ish of them, which spread out correctly can look pretty good. Their reactions were, on the whole, also pretty good. This was helped by the director being in the audience, goading the audience on with a pointed stick, making them bleat, bray and cackle on demand. There were a few silent laughs, which is fine for the people on stage, because you can see them enjoying it. But for those in the bowels of the theatre, in the dressing room, whose only connection with the stage is the intercom, it sounds like it’s gone flat.

I started the evening in fine form, in a horrific mood. Apologies to anyone I left bleeding in the gutter. But the mood lifted as the traditional buzz took hold.

So. My character’s victim. As I lunged out from behind my curtain (mercifully free of ladders) I realised there was only one person in the right seat to be favoured with my charms. Debs The Director’s Mum. And a very nice – elderly – lady she is. I think she enjoyed it, but it did add an interesting dimension to Moth’s part. And indeed, his past.

“F*ckin’ ‘ell, spiteful sod.”, was the reaction to Jethro’s Mighty Blow (JMB). Not the round of applause the scene deserves, but better than nothing, or ‘nowt’ in the play’s parlance.

Talking of which, I think we’re doing really well with the accent side of things. Most people, myself included, seem to have pinned their accent down somewhere in Yorkshire, or Lancashire. There are some wandering to Wales, and people pop to Pakistan periodically.

The first night went really well, all told. I’m probably breaking some ancient theatrical superstition by saying so, but, well, bollocks to it.

After my Act II cameos as ‘Frank’ (not the one from Blue Velvet) and as ‘rebuffed late night drinker’ (the same man? possibly) I dash back round to change back into my Act I costume for the curtain call. Then we’re waiting backstage for our bow. The last climactic scenes are unfolding on stage.

Finally comes the shouted backstage whisper, “Go!”,. We troop out. It’s then I realise my flies are undone. I have to be very careful when I bow, and stand with my hands conveniently placed. Afterwards, I was assured, “The audience didn’t notice a thing,”.

That’s what I’m afraid of.

Dress Rehearsal – The Event Horizon

Tonight’s Anthem: ‘Stuck In The Middle’ by Stealer’s Wheel.

After Sundays marathon tech-setup, there was only time to run the first half before being booted out into the street to wander home in a daze, not ready for work on Monday at all. So Monday saw us dive straight into Act 2, without taking a breath in some cases.

After Act 2 was done, Debs gave us some ‘notes’. This is a gentle way of telling people how completely wrong they are playing their part, and it is basically a way of letting of steam for the director. Care must be taken though. Taking the noble tradition of ‘notes’ too far can lead to trouble. It is well known that the First World War started when a Serbian Nationalist critisised Archduke Ferdinand of Austria’s timing on his entrance, and the way he read his speech earlier in the day. Notes before Dress Rehearsal is also a great time to add new stuff.

Then off we went. While hiding behind my curtain, I tripped over a ladder which someone had kindly left, so had to wait for my entrance balanced over a chair on one leg, so as not to make a noise. This gave me a chance to wonder how the yellow gunk in my hair looked – do I look like George Michael circa 1983? Or not? My scene with Ruth went well, couple of minor word-stumbles, mainly due to trying to remember my freshly-taught dance moves. Got them just about right, and managed not to take any furniture out.

You remember what they say about working with children and animals? So do I.

How did the Dress go in the end? Well, Jethro smacked Jayne round the face, Katy got Mike T round the ear’ole, Mike N-S threatened Alison with a stick, I forgot my child in the pub and broke my back, Kate tried to glass Ian then had a breakdown and of it all, Ian said, “Tough”.

I think Debs was pleased in the end.

Last Ten MD Traxxx – Fascinating

The last ten tracks to play on my current minidisc compilation, in shuffle mode.

  1. Nice Weather For Ducks – Lemon Jelly
  2. Lift – 808 State
  3. What Time Is Love? – KLF
  4. Beat Dis – Bomb The Bass
  5. 6/8 War – Leftfield
  6. Original Control – Meat Beat Manifesto
  7. Elements – Lemon Jelly
  8. ?? – Meat Beat Manifesto
  9. Afrika Shox – Leftfield
  10. Cubik – 808 State

So there you have it. An upbeat and slightly retro disc, but good for the daily commute.

The 6ths – Hyacinths and Thistles

I got this album for my birthday, and I’ve been checking it out ever since, on my work PC.

The first 2 tracks sound very Magnetic Fields, but that’s fair enough because it’s the same people, based at The House Of Tomorrow.

The first track brings Momus out of his box to sing the very intimate zither workout As You Turn To Go. Quite touching.

Give Me Back My Dreams is a nice little slice of melancholy, without being leaden and depressing. To paraphrase, “New York can be a lonely place on a Saturday night. And this is only Thursday morning.”

The simple croonfest He Didn’t contains some of the themes common to Stephen Merritt – hopeless love, and the promise of changing the weather/season/heavens if only you’d stay with me. Bob Mould does a good job of sounding like he means it.

I don’t like track 4. That kind of gin-soaked, lipstick-smeared, old-actress stuff leaves me cold.

And 5 is a bit throwaway. To me.

Kissing Things keeps Sarah Cracknell off the streets for a bit. What are Stanley and Wiggs up to now?

Night Falls Like A Grand Piano finds the star of Gregory’s Girl, Clare Grogan, sounding very much like she did on Happy Birthday.

It was inevitable really. The Dead Only Quickly has Neil Hannon explaining what really happens when we die. It involves putrefaction, and no religion, which is fine by me.

The CD ends with the lovely Oahu, a 3-minute song of tropical island romance, with a 20-minute synth fade-out, which had me looking out of the window with a dreamy smile on my face. And that’s saying something, when you work in Euston. Not much of a view, but this CD helped.

Cheers Robin.

The 6ths – Hyacinths and Thistles (CIRCUS CD005)

Possible titles for Joss Stones next album

Given that her first two albums were called ‘The Soul Sessions’, and ‘Mind Body and Soul’, what about her third? Here’s some suggestions…

  • Soul-er Power
  • Soul Trader
  • Something I Scraped Off The Soul Of My Shoe
  • Going Soul-o
  • Nightsoul Collector
  • I’ve Souled Myself
  • A Shitload of Soul
  • Soul On A Roll
  • The 1988 Soul Olympics
  • O Soul-a Mio
  • Popped In, Soul’d Out (been done?)

Colin Powell: A Biographical Performance by Robin Deacon

Let’s plug me ol’ mucker Robin again!

Saturday 27th November
The Curtain Theatre
Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
London
E1 6AB
8PM
Cost £5

Part of the Performance: Strategy & Process series.

www.robindeacon.comTo book tickets visit Artsadmin (Mon-Fri, 10.30am – 6pm). Tickets can be purchased on the door by cheque (with guarantee card) or cash. Places cannot be guaranteed so early booking is recommended. For more information call Frances Scott at Artsadmin on 0207 247 5102 or email frances@artsadmin.co.uk.

Colin Powell is also showing at The Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 25th November, 8pm (+353 1- 881 9613/14)

Japanese Product Design and Museum

This is a fascinating selection of Japanese consumer product designs from the 60’s onward. Worth checking out for many reasons, including

Plenty more where that came from. Beautiful stuff. Modern design – I don’t know, it looks boring by comparison. Hark at the grumpy old man.