Theatre West Autumn Season is coming to Bristol's Alma Tavern, leading off with the three rehearsed readings picked from their recent contest. Hence the picture of a blackboard. This is no ordinary blackboard, on here is chalked the information that my play Consulting with Chekhov will be one of the rehearsed readings which open the season!
Director Pameli Benham invited me to the first rehearsal - here's me with my marvellous cast: Dan Maxwell as dashing & duplicitous Doctor Darling, Annette Chown as wickedly gorgeous Lee, and Dee Sadler as stressed-out writer Sadie. We're waiting by the bins for the barman to open up, oh the glamour of theatrical life. Once we're in, it's all go. "This is the third play in a row I've been tied up" comments Dan, as Annette practices straddling and Dee marks up her lines with fluorescent pink marker pen. Exciting times...
Vamos Theatre, “on being awarded a major grant” (why does my heart sink when I read these words in a programme?) created the full-mask show Nursing Lives to evoke “nurses at work and play during the years of World War II”. The masks themselves (made by Russell Dean of Strangeface Theatre) are fabulous, and brought tenderly to life by the three actors, but there really wasn’t enough substance to sustain 80 minutes of whimsy and nostalgia. Many charming moments among the capering to 1940s melodies, and quite a few giggles, but the structural conceit of revisiting a memory-filled hospital ward gave a ‘rummage in the attic’ feel to a show that would have been so much better edited down to half the running time. For me the cheeky demolition men should be the first redundancies, but as this is billed 'for 8 and upwards' I'm probably being a bit curmudgeonly.
Stourhead lake, created in 1744 and surrounded with a walk conceived as an allegory of Aeneas' voyage after the fall of Troy. The composition was designed, apparently, to resemble a painting by Gaspar Poussin. Heroic couplets by Alexander Pope at every turn celebrate this 'finest English example of a landscape of antiquity' that we're lucky enough to have close enough to Frome for evening walks, but best moments come from un-Augustan moments like this rainbow.