Whispers from the Wings


August 2, 2012

I love Newcastle! Love the people, the shopping, the sense of fashion (or at least the brevity of it!). People make a place. And they are some of the best. Though they are cursed to support a team which can never match their undying love.

I talked to some Friends of Theatre Royal recently. Their enthusiasm and wit was wonderful to experience. They were supposed to have Ray Fearon but he was indisposed. They got someone not as attractive, shorter and not as famous. I wonder if they felt they were just a little short changed. I hope not. I was thinking of juggling to make the talk entertaining. But then remembered I can't do more than four balls!

It's a lovely theatre which has had a recent refurbishment. Beautiful. It is, of course, far too small for our show. Any theatre that was built more than 50 years ago would be. We have all got bigger. We have become supersized, theatrically. Huge sets that sometimes are a squeeze on other stages. So, we were used to a LOT more space. But things work out. They nearly always do.

In theatre, much like life, things usually turn out the way they should. People get sick, real life intervenes: the show goes on. Because... it does. It is wonderful to watch people adjusting and moving on. No matter what happens...

So I went on in Newcastle. As Cassius. I played him in front of a paying audience who were expecting to see someone else. It was... thrilling.

I found out I was going to play him about an hour or so before we went on. But I had a hunch it was going to happen. It was... magical.

I was pretty appalling in the matinee. At one point, Mark Theodore had to prompt me. I could have married him there and then. The evening show was... better.

I mean, I know I can do this part. I know the lines. I have worked hard running lines with The Brunette and scribbling notes. I think about Cassius all the time. I have some talent. But there is still a world of difference between thinking and doing.

There I was, talking to Patterson Joseph! And there's Jeffrey Kissoon and Ray Fearon (him again). And they were all helpful and lovely. But all the time I was thinking: 'Bet they wish Cyril was back.'

Anyway, I did it. And they cheered at the end and someone wrote a letter saying how great I was. Which was nice. But I beat myself up about it all the way through the rest of the week. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be more than perfect.

The Director says that we shouldn't carry baggage. If something goes wrong, we should just forget it and move on. Good advice. Almost impossible to follow.

I. Want. To. Be. Perfect. And I know that doesn't exist. Any wonder I got drunk that night?

I do the understudy run in London. It may be my last chance. I suggest you come and watch.

by Andrew French  |  No comments yet

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