RRG – week 15 – It’s SHOWTIME!!!!

Monday – dress rehearsal – not horrendous, far from it, but that ball game will be the death of us! If we get it right every night it will be nothing short of a miracle. We had the sound effects for the first time ever which caused quite a bit of hilarity. And I had a rose bush from which to pick roses… the set really is incredible, lots of lovely little details!

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Wednesday – opening night – technical issues with sound, a new amplifier has been ordered. About a 3/4 house, you could hear them listening and chuckling to themselves with the odd belly guffaw. Great energy in the theatre tonight and it really souped up our performances, precisely what we’ve been needing for the last couple of weeks! Oh, and we¬†nailed the dreaded ball game – huzzah!

Thursday – a smaller audience, but a livlier audience. Better quality you could say ūüėȬ†They arrived determined to enjoy themselves! A couple of prompts were needed by my cast mates, and Caron and Gethyn got a fit of the giggles after Gethyn needed the best prompt in the history of prompts (the line ‘ah’ had escaped him), but another top notch performance.¬†Mike accidentally squashed my head against the bench during our clinch – payback for all the damage he received up against the wall in Theft apparently!….¬†what can one say to that? I stumbled off stage and did my costume change in fits of laughter!

Friday – near as damnit sold out, and a lovely responsive lot they were too. A great smooth performance tonight. No technical issues and no prompts. Rock on!

Saturday – the¬†last night – even nearer as damnit sold out, and by far the best audience we had all week. They laughed at every single joke, out loud. Our performances really went up a notch because of it. A very special last night indeed, even if I did drop the ball when I shouldn’t have (I was very surprised it had not happened before then, to be honest!). After the show we did the usual staying for drinks in the bar afterwards and gave the director our thank you gift – an apron quilted by Jeannie and signed by us all, Peg wore it for the rest of the night!

A bunch of us then hit the pub and we stayed so long they actually kicked us out! I drove the other ladies home and what with the clock change last night I didn’t get home myself before 3 am… yes, I know, dirty stop out!

Great fun though!


(even if I am completely knackered now!)


On a side note, a point of interest, BBC Radio 4 on Saturday afternoons for the last three weeks¬†has been broadcasting a radio version of all three Norman Conquest plays, and on this Saturday (the afternoon of the last night) they broadcast ‘Round and Round the Garden’. I have been listening avidly each week and this one was no different. I listened to it in bed this morning and it was a little peculiar hearing my own lines in another voice¬†performed a little differently! Wonderful stuff though, had me¬†laughing even though I know it backwards – I will have to seek that out and buy it if I can.

That’s all for now folks!



RRG – week 14 – the final furlong

First off – it has been brought to my attention (thank you Peg and Caron!) that last week’s post failed to mention two extremely funny happenings that contributed to the ‘beautiful chaos’ I was talking about:

1) that Mike knocked over a flat. We all watched dumb founded as it fell in seeming slow motion to land on the bench. Thankfully no one and nothing was injured, but it was pointed out, rather dryly, that perhaps that ought to be the next thing secured in place!

2) that the script calls for Caron (playing Ruth) to have great difficultly opening out a¬†garden chair. During the scene, that pivotal moment¬†¬†came around and the chair opened out as smooth as butter spread on warm toast. It was a thing of pure beauty and completely wrong which, or course, had us all in stitches! …

Now to this week, aka the final furlong:

Two¬†good runs through, we’re coming in at about 2 hours in length, which will mean curtain down comfortably before 10 pm. All good stuff! Also the set is nearly finished¬†– final push this weekend – Jim and Brenda who have designed and built it and it looks amazing – again! A house with bricks, and a garden with plants (none of them live (phew!)¬†to keep in with the old theatre superstition).

I can’t believe this is coming to an end already… 14 weeks! Where has all that time gone? Well, you know what they say about time when you’re having fun, and we’ve certainly had that on this production. What a blast! And, because we all knew each other before we started then we really did turn into a proper little family. It is going to be so weird not seeing all these wonderful, thoroughly lovely¬†idiots twice a week!


There’s Mike and Gethyn, with whom I have¬†the majority of¬†my scenes and both have been a joy to act with. With Mike my character, Annie, tends to be very vulnerable and he and I have been bouncing off each other like a dream. He comes up with these lovely bits if business that just add soooo much that you didn’t realise was there.¬†¬†And Gethyn – such perfect comic timing. I am much more tense and uptight with Gethyn’s character, so he gets all¬†of that thrown at him, and he is so amazingly vague¬†in return which is exactly what Tom, his character¬†is: vague and dim. Really lovely stuff – who knew such embarrassing awkwardness¬†could be so much fun!

Then there’s Jeff and Jeannie, with whom I share ‘window scenes’. They are not in the script but something Peggy, our director, dreamt up. We had an amazing time coming up with our fake conversations that no one will ever hear, and daft bits of action. Jeannie and I also have this brilliant moment at the end of the play where she is ranting and I quietly put her in her place. Directly afterwards we have this stare-down that lasts a couple of beats and it has been a point of mine of try and make her laugh during that moment. Jeannie laughs so easily – so amusing! Little things please little minds, as they say!

Caron, my excellent¬†friend who is playing my older sister and nailing the making-baby-sister-feel-bad bit. We have had great fun throwing sarcasm at each other. If you can’t bite chunks out of your mate then who can you (to quote Peggy)???

Anyway, next week is show week … may we all break legs!


…. oh, and by the way, if the boys don’t¬†walk off with this play I will¬†die of surprise on the spot – they have spent the last 14 weeks trying¬†desperately to one-up each other! Hilarious!



RRG – week 13 – actors in need of an audience

Another week of act 2 twice, then act 1 twice.

There is some tightening up of lines needed all round but basically we actors are in need of an audience! We’ve reached that point where we cannot tweak anything any more, the director’s happy, the actors know what’s what and what not and we just need to know whether it’s funny any more. We’ve heard all the gags a thousand times and we just need fresh eyes and ears in the auditorium.Good job opening night is a week and a half away… ūüėÄ

The lights and sound effects started being used in full this week. Lights going up and down and sounds both where they aren’t supposed to be as well as where they are. Trial error is the only way to master it, same as everything else in theatre but it doesn’t half make it all a bit chaotic. Beautiful chaos!


Next week we are going to run the whole play from top to bottom, interval included at each rehearsal. This helps us get a feel for the thing as a whole and it also gives an idea of running length. Each half runs for about an hour but what will happen when we run both halves one after the other…?



RRG – week 12 – lovely jubbly

Another week of running each act twice.

Even though it makes for long rehearsals it really does pay off with getting the lines hammered home: the second time through is always miles better than the first.

Monday was act 2 and as we had gone over that on Thursday last week it was fresh. This week it ran so much smoother and sleeker – really feeling good.

Thursday we moved on to act 1. Ha! I‚Äôd not looked at lines for about 10 days, and I went completely to pot in the 2nd scene… I‚Äôm going to need to blitz those over the weekend! The second run was better than the first but still…. Gah!


Line perfection, or lack thereof, aside, we are all book down, and because of that we are putting in all sorts of inflections and mannerisms, and the conversation is really coming to life. We are also able to finesse timings of movement making everything slick.

The set is the best part of finished and already looks amazing. Brenda, Jim and Patrick had done a brilliant job! My (annie‚Äôs) house has a front door and a step leading up to it ‚Äď a door and a step!. The garden has foliage and there brick walls.

I love my front door!

Seriously, I did the whole sqealing-like-a-girl bit when I saw it Рit’s so great to have an actual door to go through rather than just an imaginary one.

Lovely jubbly!




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 ūüôā

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!