Whispers from the Wings

Cut and thrust

March 28, 2014

We've got the Aldwych firmly in our sights now and some of our time must be spent in preparation for our London run. Last week we had two days of discussion over cuts and emendations to the scripts. We just have to trim the plays down a bit for a West End audience because some of them will have travelled a long way. The sound of the odd seat tipping up, and people shuffling along the rows to catch their trains, would somewhat compromise the drama.

Hilary and Mike have taken the opportunity to sharpen a few things up where the story might not have been immediately clear. We've all had a few lines cut in the drive to make these plays even fitter and leaner than they already are. I will have had 61 friends to see these productions by the time we leave Stratford, and so many of them say that this complex tale is told with such compelling efficiency.

Every cloud . . . I was due to go back to London at the weekend to chair an environment group meeting, but had an unfortunate fall in the foyer on Friday and ruptured a muscle in my right arm. That meant I couldn't drive to London, but that I could go to Nat Parker's house party on the Sunday, driven by my fellow duke, Nick Boulton.

Parker playing Pétanque!

So this really painful arm turned out to be majorly advantageous. Nat and his beautiful wife, Anna, have converted a set of Cotswold stone farm buildings into the most perfect home. My favourite room was the "round room", beautifully furnished in a round-walled building that once housed the horse engine, where a poor pony would have endlessly walked round in a tight circle with a beam attached to its back turning some sort of essential farm machinery.

Anna had prepared the most magnificent lunch, and we played a most diverting game of post prandial pétanque on the Nat's private piste. I had to play left-handed, of course, and astonishingly managed to get my boule intimately kissing the cochonnet more than a few times. Giles Taylor turned out to be an expert bombeur and landed a few excellent high-arcing game changers.

Tomorrow we have a company outing to the Rollright Stones for a picnic. Apparently one is forbidden to bury metal within the circle. Plastic cutlery, then, to be on the solstice safe side?

De-de-der-der, de-de-der-der, de-de-der-dee

Mobile phones! If only everybody would turn off their phones in the theatre. Things are certainly better nowadays. I remember that at the Almeida in The Iceman Cometh, bleeping Blackberrys and noisy Nokias were a routine nightly occurrence. One night Kevin Spacey just stopped mid-sentence, stepped forward, and said "tell'em we're busy!" It takes a while for the audience's attention to re-focus on the play once a forgetful audience member has finally found the off switch and silenced the wretched thing.

This afternoon the same mobile phone rang six times. It turned out that its elderly owner didn't know how to turn it off! A kind member of our front of house staff gave him a bit of technical support in the interval. Oh, and there was another bit of a mishap today . . . I went up to the Juliet balcony to deliver the Bring up the bodies line and promptly tripped on a customer's coat that had fallen off the back of his seat. As my special spotlight opened up it revealed me flailing around on my back like an upturned beetle.

by Nick Day  |  1 comment

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Apr 2, 10:07am
Gerald McEwen

Yes Nick, you do actually have one reader. See you in London.

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Teaching Shakespeare