I am currently sitting at Warwick Parkway station. It is 08.37 on a Sunday morning. I am still slightly drunk from a party last night at Waterside. The first train out of the Stratford-upon-Avon area leaves in five minutes from this station which is a 20 minute drive from Stratford and £30 'Sunday rates' taxi ride. The trains from the station in Stratford-upon-Avon don't leave until 9.38 and go pretty slowly. The fact that I am here, head pounding, sipping on a cup of polystyrene-tasting tea shows just how committed I am to my escape.
I am going back to Stoke Newington for a total of 20 hours. It is most certainly not cost or time effective. However I fear if I do not get 20 hours in London Town I will loose my mind. I love it here. I love the plays I am doing. I love my cast. I have not fallen out with anybody or slept with anybody, I just need some SPACE. Stratford is very small. London is very big. I need to get back to London in order to remember that the world I am living in at the RSC is not real, it is a bubble. A very small glorious bubble consisting of my bed, the girls dressing room, the stage, the green room, the stage, the girls dressing room, the stage, the girls dressing room, the Dirty Duck, my bed. Sometimes I manage to fit in Sainsbury's for a Nutribullet restock, or a meal at Zizzi's with the cast in the middle of a two show day.
This week has been triumphant. Don Quixote feels like a very special show. Even though the grown ups/creatives have left us now, we are fulfilling our promise to Cal McCrystal that we will be badly behaved and throw a riotous party on stage every night. I'm so proud of what we have made together but cabin fever has taken its grip and I want to be as far away from pushing wooden donkeys and pulling windmill ropes as I can be this Sunday. I am looking forward to sirens and pollution and minimal eye contact with strangers and Uber and 4G internet and craft beers and Zeus. ZEUS. The first thing I intend to do when I get back is lie on the living room floor whilst he runs all over my face and bites and licks and squeals and pees on me. I haven't had a shower yet so I'll really be giving my puppy a treat on my return.
Later in the day on Sunday
I am on the sofa with my hairy puppy lying on his back on my chest. He is warm and slightly snoring, legs splayed, tiny balls proudly in the air. We are content. I have had a shower, taken him for a glorious walk in the park and then wandered back down Church Street, browsing the trendy homeware shops where there was not a floral pattern in sight! As well as overpriced avocados, I have bought a tiny gimmicky bottle of flavoured water in Whole Foods for £2.85. It comes in a beautifully designed carton and is apparently 'organic water tapped directly from the sap of Finnish birch trees providing your daily source of anti-oxidising manganese.' What is 'manganese' you ask? I don't know and I didn't care. I wanted it and I bought it and I drank it contentedly because it was pretty and a rip-off and because I would never find something like it in Stratford-upon-Avon. Then I had a delicious roast lamb lunch with my family, followed by tea and chats with my best mate who cycled round to see me. Now Zeus and I have awoken from an afternoon nap where I slept off my hangover whist my boyfriend watched the football. It's all the same here's as it was when I left 6 weeks ago! This is my real life. I CAN escape the Stratford bubble for a day and swap it for my Stoke Newington bubble.
On the train back to Stratford
Although 20 hours in London wasn't enough, I have had my small fix of pace and pretentiousness and playing with the puppy. The Warwickshire countryside is so clean that on my way to Marylebone station I realised if I closed my eyes, I could distinguish the Victoria line and the Bakerloo line by their particular smell - sicky sweet, dry heat for the Victoria line in comparison to the damper, more oniony heat of the Bakerloo. Perhaps any true Londoner can do this. But it comforted me. This week will be our first proper week in rep with 6 shows of Doctor Faustus and 2 of Don Quixote. We also have understudy rehearsals for Faustus during the day so Ruth and I will be working flat out.
It's a beautiful sunny morning as we pull out through the west London suburbs and I realise that the start of spring in Stratford will be a lovely way to counterpoint Faustus' schizophrenic hell which we will be delving into all week. I go to fish my script out of my handbag and find a Whole Foods carrier bag hidden inside it. My boyfriend has secretly deposited two cartons of the organic birch sap water with my daily natural source of anti-oxidising manganese. In flavours that I have not yet tried. Birch sap with bilberry and lingonberry and birch sap with apple and root ginger. Thank GOD I have enough manganese for my next spell in Stratford.