Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tour Diary PT 7: Manchester and Brighton

Wise words at a train station somewhere.

This week our travels took us from the North to the South, via a whole nexus of the most gorgeous train carriages. We had two sold-out shows in Manchester, and one in Brighton, both in wildly different venues with very diverse audiences, proving how universal the show is. Tweets and facebook messages abound from people who have seen the show and want to know how they can see it again! The proof is in THAT pudding I'd say.

Gratuitous selfie, taken to commemorate the world's most flattering backstage mirror.

In Machester we performed at the Contact Theatre as part of the Flying Solo Festival. After a minor slippage with the stage times (we believed we were on at 8pm, the website said 7.30pm and the theatre believed it to be 7pm) we barreled onstage for our Mancunian debut, barely 10 minutes after the lighting had been plotted. Much to my amusement the mannequin legs which furnish the front quarter of the stage, gave up the ghost a mere 15 minutes into the show and capsized rather loudly and in an entirely unmissable manner, leaving a rather gaping hole in the set and indeed the narrative. Likewise in our panic to get onstage a costume had been left on the stage rather than backstage, which necessitated Erin to casually stroll by me at a very unexpected moment to rescue it and chuck it to our unflappable stage manager, Maud. Musical director Ed didn't fare much better, not noticing that the sunglasses he was wearing had been recently painted red with a sharpie, he spent the last third of the show with some very fetching red Adam Ant-esque stripes adorning his face. In spite of that catalogue of hiccups, The Public Reviews gave us a glowing review, though with an inexplicable 4.5 out of 5 stars.

In case you ever wondered, on what such GENIUS was based (although you probably didn't).

The second night in Manchester was nigh on professional, which meant that obviously, by the time we arrived in Brighton (a mere 5.5 hour, 3 train journey away) we were in desperate need of a minor catastrophe. Ask and you shall receive! The charming Marlborough Theatre has character by the bucket load, shedloads of ambience and acres of good energy, the only thing it lacks is physical space. Our set was approximately three times to big for the stage, a crisis for sure, but one which was somewhat relieved by the fact that only half of the set arrived from Manchester - every cloud, lover! What remained of our set was lovingly arranged onto the bijou stage and with only the tiniest bit of hysteria we reworked the movement, or should I say, removed the movement. After the accursed wardrobe was installed onstage there was barely room to walk a meter in any direction, so the show developed a certain languid stillness, shot through with the manic energy of knowing the whole thing might collapse and take the entire building down with it at any given moment. It was a hilarious show, with Erin and I colliding constantly, props flying off the stage and the wardrobe upstaging us constantly by swinging open at will.

Both cities were beautiful to spend time in, and we met a lot of very charming theatre-goers after the shows. Really, touring has been a refreshing and inspiring time, it has taught me a lot about developing stamina, patience and the ability to relax enough to perform, even under insane conditions. In short I've had a great time. Next week we're closing the circle and returning to the Battersea Arts Centre, where this whole madcap process began. We have 3 shows, 2 of which are sold out, and I thoroughly expect them to be as unhinged, uncanny and unpredictable as usual.

These shoes are still torture.

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