November 12, 2012
Everyone tells you about the amount of churches in Norwich. And the amount of pubs. Suffice to say there are a lot of both. What they may keep quiet about is the amount of passionate students and theatre lovers.
Norwich is lovely. Some may call it quaint but if you have the fortune to bag yourself a quite lovely self contained cottage one can enjoy some of the lovely sights without too much trouble. 'Such as?' I hear you shout. Well, it has an incredibly large John Lewis. And an even more massive Marks and Sparks. This may not seem like the most important cultural highlight of a city, but when you have been on tour for as long as we have, you start to appreciate the little (or not so little) things.
It occurred to me that Norwich was one of the main places where the Normans landed, and as you walk around the churches and thge stained glass, it is a simple thing to imagine yourself back to those vicious times. Where would my skills in acting (such as they are) have gotten me?
It's all very well charming theatre enthusiasts and drama students with amusing anecdotes and cunning wordplay; but when Swein Forkbeard (real name, nice guy) is bearing down on you with a double headed axe in his hand it is doubtful he will pause to chuckle over my Angelina Jolie story (even though it is a very good one).
I used to imagine that I would be some kind of tribal leader like in the Lord of the Flies, only without the swift reversion to barbarism. But people tend to follow people who have some discernible skill like in the case of our esteemed Prime minister...ah, wait there may be a light at the end of the tunnel after all.
I once worked with an actor named Billy who was so full of angst about his actor's life that he became a bricklayer part time. He was from Norwich.
Maybe all those ghostly halls and earnestly sung hymns remain within the walls of all those churches and judge us: 'What are you doing with your life? We died for what we believed in and all you're doing is making sure that your Marks and Sparks underwear has enough spandex in it! OOOOOhhhhhh!' (Or other ghostly noise).
Anyway, he built a pretty awful wall outside the front of his house. When I say awful I mean that it was a wall in only the loosest sense. It was pants. I hope he doesn't read this. in fact, I'm only pretending he is called Billy because if he does read it, it would be a fight between a bricklayer and an actor. Who would you bet on? Exactly.
Norwich has great shops and I had nice digs. There was a vibrant nightlife and the evenings when we went out were so good that I was briefly tempted to spend an obscene amount of money in a club on a bottle of gin. There is also the moment when this particular company takes to the dancefloor and quite simply, blows everyone else away. Modesty is overrated; we tear up the dancefloor but good.
It is extraordinary to see parts of the country that one would never normally visit. That's the thing about Norwich. There is not much else out that way. If you go to Birmingham from London there are all sorts of places that you are likely to pass through. Not Norwich. That might make it a place that's a little bit special. In both senses.
PS: I am tired of eating junk food. There are several members of the company who text me when they have found a particular brand of fried poultry. It tastes good at the time but one always pays for it later. Much like overpriced gin.
See you on the dancefloor!
by Andrew French
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