Hello Ladies & Gents,

How are we all? I hope all is grand. It's that time to blog again about all things Malfi & Rich going on at the Swan Theatre this summer! Since the last time I blogged, we have now opened The Duchess of Malfi and Mrs Rich has swung back into action and opens next week, so busy times all round (on top of that, Macbeth has opened in the main house, too).

sign reading 'Duchess of Malfi cast & crew wishing you a bloody good press night and run. Lots of love and luck. From all in RST.' Signed by actors
© Graeme Brookes Browse and license our images

Let’s talk about Malfi - the cat is now out of the bag, so to speak, and I can let you know that there is LOTS of blood. It’s hard not to mention the play and how we’ve got on without talking about the blood. I’m unsure if it is the bloodiest show in the history of the RSC, but it has to be close. What’s been funny is the reception it's received - whispers and madness that have followed suit with staff, actors and audience alike - so I thought this would be a great platform to let you in on a few things:  

  • Did the blood really reach row H in the previews/dress rehearsals? Yes.
  • Was the cast completed covered? Yes.
  • Do the AMAZING wardrobe team really have to wash every costume for the next show? Yes.
  • Is there a giant beast on stage that shoots blood into the audience? No.
  • Do you get provided with a blanket if you’re in the first row? Yes.
  • Do you need to wear goggles whilst watching the show? No.
  • Is there still lots of blood? Yes.
  • Will you get ‘covered’ if you’re in the front row? No, you may get the slightest bit.
  • Is the blood edible? If you like really sweet liquid candyfloss that barefoot actors walk in.
A woman in a smart, light blue dress, with a group of men behind her, looks downstage at her brother.
Graeme (far left) in The Duchess of Malfi.
Photo by Helen Maybanks © RSC Browse and license our images

The big thing about the blood, so I was told, was that the temperature impacts it significantly. Well, guess what? We opened in the midst of the biggest snow storm we’ve had in years. The cold led to the blood not flowing properly so had to be diluted, making it particularly bloody, as I am sure the audiences that managed to get to our previews will attest. Now all is back to normal, the levels and management of the blood and its flow are much better. However, let’s step away from all the bloodiness because there is also some stunning acting in the show. I would stress for you to give it a go, just to see some performances from actors that I feel will go on to have very big careers both in the RSC and beyond. However, not long after starting, the play goes for a bit, as Malfi closes for about 3 weeks whilst Mrs Rich takes priority and opens!

The Mrs Rich team all moved up a few weeks ago and we have had lots of fun already. Dogs in rehearsals. Big dresses (not for me sadly, though I get to wear a wig, which makes me happy no end considering I am follically challenged! You may just find me tootling around Stratford wearing my wig as I try to reclaim and re-live my hairline). We head into technical week next week, which hopefully shouldn’t be as painful as Malfi; however, we are a very big company. A cast of 20 (very pleased it has a perfect 50/50 gender split) as well as two dogs, four saxophonists and lots of cakes and other bits and bobs, or what my Dad would call “fiddly bits”. The big worry for ‘Team’ Mrs Rich comes when Malfi has done a matinee and Mrs Rich is the night show: arranging everything to make sure that those beautiful dresses or my perfect white suit don’t brush up against anything bloody, because that stuff gets everywhere. Eeeeeek!

Several members of the cast are all walking with their hands on each others shoulders, a man in a red shirt is in focus at the front of the line of people.
Graeme and the Mrs Rich cast in rehearsals.
Photo by Helen Maybanks © RSC Browse and license our images

From my personal perspective, it’s been quite relentless. I am entering into week five of consecutive 12-hour days essentially. It will stay like this until the end of April. This is because I am lucky enough to be a large understudy in The Duchess of Malfi and Mrs Rich – meaning once Mrs Rich opens and the daytime rehearsals stop, the understudy rehearsals begin during the day in preparation for public performances.

On top of all of this, I am ‘trying’ to train as I am going to be doing the London Marathon on 22 April for the National Deaf Children Society. Madness. I signed up for it before I got this job. If I had known, I doubt I’d have done it, as balancing the plates is proving difficult, but hey, gotta crack on! So I am going to use this platform to say – if you like my blogs, I have my own website where I am blogging with attempted humour about the marathon training and, more importantly, where you can sponsor me if you feel that way inclined.

Thank you all. I will blog in three weeks or so to let you know how Mrs Rich opened, about prepping for the understudy run of Malfi, our epic work out sessions with our favourite executioner and, for me, balancing all this with training for a marathon. No rest for the wicked but I wouldn’t want it any other way at present.

Take care.

G. x

Graeme Brookes

Graeme Brookes

Graeme Brookes has been an actor for 13 years. He is a native of the Black Country, supports Walsall FC, likes Vimto and Pick & Mix. Follow Graeme on Twitter @Mr_Brookes04

Read Graeme's biog

You are in: Blogs

You may also like