RRG – week 11 – four, count ’em four, weeks to go!

Four weeks to go until show week and we’re all book down – we’ve learnt our lines – and the blocking’s in place.

This means that we’ve four weeks to basically play about with line delivery and body language to really squeeze the best out of our performances. This is when the real fun happens… it’s also when it all gets real.

Gulp… 4 weeks.and counting!

Actually we are in a really lucky position because it is not often that the whole cast is book down four weeks out. More than a few times I’ve seen people with scripts in hands, not quite teady to release the security blanket, at tech rehearsal… now that is a little too fly by the seat of your pants.

Having said the actor that does that is one of those wonderfully infruriating people who will then walk away with the show, upstaging everyone else!

On Monday we ran act 1 twice, and on Thursday we ran act 2 twice. It meant late finishes but it was totally worth it because the 2nd time through was miles better. The repetition is a great aid in really cementing the lines into the brain.

The society’s publicity whiz, Jo, came down on Thursday to get some photos of us rehearsing. We almost has to rresuscitate her at one point. She was laughing that hard.



RRG – week 10 – ups ‘n’ downs

What did I say last week??? It wouldn’t surprise me if I got a cold soon. Well SURPRISE, on Sunday night I felt a cold starting. Lovely.

Then, on Monday Sam, the statue that features large in the proceedings of the play, arrived on stage and threw me well off my game. That and also Peg started using the proper stage lights after weeks of using only the working lights. My head emptied and then refilled with all my lines jumbled up. It’s amazing how two such relatively small changes can put me so out of whack… well that’s my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

Midway through the week a ray of sunshine: I spot a bargain – a dress that would be perfect for Annie (my character), only one left in my size, and only £10. I order it, it arrives, I try it on….. IT FITS! Howzat!

The scruffy clothes I can do no problem, the dress was a bit of a worry. Relief!

Thursday rolls around and, even better, I seem to be fighting the cold off – it’s pretty much gone. I also have had the time to sit down and hammer away at the lines, and it shows. I’ve got used to Sam being there, and to the lights being so bright that I can’t see a damn thing in the auditorium. I’m comfortable in my own skin once again.

Also on Thursday Peg, the director, is away, and I am running rehearsal which sounds far grander than it is. I get things started and I make sure they keep moving along, and that’s about it. We’re fully blocked so there is nothing to work out. It is just running lines and moves, largely.

Stuart stood in for the absent Mike, reading the script but having a limited idea about moves so each line we delivered was accompanied by a whispered stage direction! Ha!

Altogether a fun, productive rehearsal. Lots of work done with lots of laughs. The lines were the best they’ve been so far, and the speed really amped up. Great stuff.

…so a positive end to a week that didn’t start all that well for me.



RRG – week 9 – no such thing as too fine a point

On Monday we broke down the ball game and my bit with Mike on the window seat, Peg could see there was an awkwardness there, it just wasn’t right. So we all stopped and talked it out, just like we did for that bit with Jeannie and Mike last week.

We discussed whose move it was – the smoochy bit in the previous scene is my (Annie’s) move. This one is Mike’s (Norman’s), he has to drive it, so we slightly amended the choreography so it is clear he is making said move. It gave me something to react to which helped hugely.

We also discussed the physics/mechanics: There is nothing to support us by the window, we have to balance on a very thin bench. Now, I know Mike won’t drop me, he’s several inches taller than me, and perfectly capable of catching me if I did slip, but I just couldn’t lose the idea that I was going to land on my rear end in the middle of a pivotal moment. Classy, yes? Er, no.

So we reworked the ball game leading up to it and then decided the flip the final tableau so Mike and I would be on the bench on the other side of the stage. That is a much better bench. It has arms and a back and both Mike and I felt much more comfortable – I wasn’t going anywhere and Mike didn’t have to concentrate on his balance so much. We both could relax, and it worked so much better.

Of course, as sod’s law would have it, Mike has a streaming cold this week. So we had a hilarious time trying to do all this with him not breathing on me…. let me put it this way, between this and my day job colleagues’ sniffs and sneezes I won’t be in the least surprised if I get a cold one day soon.


Also, Jeff perfected his side-achingly funny entrance-through-the-gate-with-suitcases. Absolutely priceless – just like something out of The Two Ronnies!

On Thursday we broke down a section of the final scene where everyone troops on to the stage from the back of the auditorium with me on stage holding the gate open. Such a tiny section, it lasts maybe a couple of minutes but it took us about quarter of an hour to get it down. Blimey! It’s the small things that give you all the trouble, isn’t it?

Busy just isn’t the word, but, by golly, it’s satisfying! It’s a bit like after a particularly hard work out at the gym – achy, in a good way.

Peg also got us walking through the line up at the end of the play and the sections going from scene to scene in each act. She’s got bits of business from start to finish – it really is going to be a wonderful play 🙂

On Monday next week Peg wants us run the play from top to bottom. It’ll be the first time we do this and I am feeling both excited and terrified at the prospect!




RRG – week 8 – polishing and ironing

After last week’s debacle I made sure I went over the lines before Monday’s rehearsal. Much better, I nearly have them perfectly for Act 2 but a bit more work is needed.



On Thursday we jumped to act 1. We didn’t have Mike until half way through so Patrick stood in for scene 1 which was hilarious. He delivered the lines completely deadpan which had me creased. It was most odd doing that scene with someone who isn’t Mike! I’ve become very used to how he speaks and moves. It completely threw me for a bit – Much more work needed on those lines, I think!

Le sigh!

For scene 2 we focussed on the smoochy bit between Mike and Jeannie. It wasn’t working so Peg (director) broke it down and re-blocked it with the rest of us sitting in the auditorium tossing ideas and comments back and forth. It was well worth the repetition and the bothering about the minutiae because the end result was much smoother and more dynamic. Cue a huge sigh of relief from Jeannie. She’d found that whole section very awkward to perform. It looks on-the-button now, smiles all round!


Jim and Brenda were also came down to the theatre for a conflab about the set with Peg, so they stayed to watch for a bit. They laughed – and in the right places, too. Hugely encouraging, let me tell you.

Six weeks to go and it seems we are well on the way to having a play on our hands! Yay!



Comparing professional with amateur…

Back in mid December 2012 I was told that the play set to start rehearsals after Christmas had fallen through and I could I step in?

My first thought was “YIKES!!!”

My second was, “BREATH!!! You’ve known this was a possibility for weeks, you’ve got a plan, set it in motion.”

That play was The Business of Murder by Richard Harris (no, not the actor, the screen writer/playwright). It went on stage in April 2013 and was a production I was very proud of, not least because of the short notice I’d had to actually get the pencilled idea moving.

You should have seen my delight when I got the email from my local theatre informing me that a professional production of The Business of Murder was on tour and was hitting their stage this week.

I HAD to go.

As you know, I am strictly amateur, this is something I do in my spare time, we beg, we borrow, we steal. I just HAD to snatch the opportunity to compare our effort with that of a professional production company and all the resources they have available to use.

So I went. Tonight.

First off, let me get the whining out of the way: the bloke sitting in front of me has to have been one of the tallest people ever, and would be stop shifting about? No! I don’t exactly call myself short – I’m 5’5” – but I had no chance against his height, so apologies to those sitting behind me, I had to shift about, too, or I wouldn’t have seen a thing.

Right, on with the important stuff: the play.

In a word? Cor!

The bloke playing Stone was completely mesmerising from start to finish – what a performance! Our guy, Jeff, did an amazing job, too, but much cooler and more calculating. This bloke went more maniacal, he had a definite screw loose.

Whoever decided to put Dee in that dress should be shot – awful shapeless thing, and the pattern? Don’t even! Bleurgh! (AND it clashed with the wallpaper which was impressive!) The actor, though, did a great job. She made her almost fragile, very freaked out. When our Rachel played Dee, she was more hardened. Interesting, I liked it.

Hallett was a little too two dimensional for me, I preferred our version. He was much more of a tough, jaded, crooked copper the way our Gethyn played it.

One big thing that surprised me was this:  In the script the bedroom is sectioned off using a screen that is supposed to reveal the room behind when light is shone on it. Jim, our set whiz, pulled this off wonderfully. We sought and purchased gauze and we played with lights and we got it to work. In this production they had the whole bedroom on display through out, and, to me, it took a lot of impact out of the ‘suprise’ moment at the end of act 1.

Also I was surprised by the number of muddled lines of sight. My seat was bang smack in the middle of the stalls but there were things I was meant to be able to see that I couldn’t because the sofa was in the way, or an actor did. I lost count of the number of times the actors cut across each other and muddied line delivery/impact because of it.

Near the end of the play there are 2 bits of violence, and we really went into detail with that. Caron, our fight expert, choreographed a little scuffle and researched stage blood and the end result looked great. In this production is was all bit something and nothing.

One final observation – I LOVED the clever use of the radio. Completely unnecessary but I wonderful way of emphasising to audience that they need to pay attention. Very clever, indeed.

Overall impression? I enjoyed it, lots to appreciate, slightly different interpretations. Lots of ideas to file away and borrow on other shows.  Yes, there was stuff I didn’t like, but we can all poke holes in each other’s stuff, can’t we?

It was well worth going, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was fascinating to see someone else’s take on a play I know so well… but it wasn’t as good as our version 😉



RRG – week 7 – the wreckage and the recovery

So I got the book down for Act 2 , and again not a catastrophe. But I was groping around a bit, especially for scene 2. Not a huge surprise as we’d only run that scene a few times, but still.

Then on the next rehearsal we were back to act 1 and the car crash happened.


I needed the book in my hand as a safety net in a big, big way. Le sigh.

I remembered most of the lines but I stumbled here and there – very irritating, firstly because I couldn’t get a flow, and secondly because I know damn well that I know the sodding lines!

Basically more work is needed. And I really should cut myself a break because it’s still early days- ish.

On the positive front, because I am nearly book down, then I can think about character and line delivery. Ideas are forming, depth and layering are developing, and not just for me. My cast mates are doing it, too. It’s what makes acting so much fun!

For example, this week, when we did Act 1 scene 2 there’s a bit with Mike and Jeff on a bench. Mike is playing drunk and Jeff is sitting with him waiting for him to sober up, or that’s the hope anyway. Anyway, these two actors spent the whole section doing their utmost to upstage one another – completely brilliant and hilarious to watch!