Off to London today to drive the lights and sound for the last run of my involvement with Second Impression Theatre Company.
David Weedal & I started our association in 1993, working on skethes and short pieces for Church events and meetings (with Jojo Cole and Rachie Fell). These developed (as Second Impression Theatre Company) into full plays for the Brighton Festival in 1996 with the first performance of Elephant Man 2095, starring Phil Bint in full make up, with the cast including both David and myself, plus Sophie Yule and about 130 others, or so it felt.
This good start led to a play every year in the Brighton Festival, with a second run in the autumn.
Top memories for me in various shows include Elephant Man 2095 my big scene as Harry Voss, the wicked showman who trades Merrick; Harry the would-be lover with ingrowing toenals in GSOH; Peter the skipping, sheep-like Aussie trapped in a cult (with the lovely Sophie Yule as Rita, my sidekick) - In Bed with Harry - also starring Michelle Chalmers; and the huge fun we all had in Slowly Going Under when my character persuades one of the women to indulge in a little loud off-stage sauciness. Perhaps the most memorable acting came in Out of the Darkness, again with Michelle Chalmers, as my OCD-driven inmate of the mental institution pathetically explains his compulsions and requests her assistance. And some of the most enjoyable moments were when my character Luigi, the Tomato Magnate, became enraged at the saleman who went off-topic.
Interspersed have been shows when my role was Assistant Director, chief provider of laughs, lights man, effects man, sound man, or sound & lights and effects man. I learned so much from David and from the vast numbers of wonderful actors with whom we have worked. Perhaps you may gauge my standard when you consider that my best bit of directing came when the sad old boy living in the guest house belonging to The World's Last Landlady was wearing a cardigan, and I suggested it would emphasise the haphazard nature of the character if he were to button it up incorrectly. Maybe only a few people noticed, but I believe it helped the actor to some degree.
And I won't forget the night when David tried to make his exit in a blackout at the end of the first act of Private Laughter, missed his footing and fell from the 4' high stage into the pit below, where he lay injured, unseen until the house lights came on and the audience had drifted out to the bar. There are several other incidents I could mention, but I'd start to get a bit lovvie-dahling, so I won't trouble you.
Tonight (and until Saturday) it's sound & lights at the Etcetera Theatre, Camden, for 007 - My Other Life, a Bond spoof with important questions, pretty girls, an evil baddie and about 300 cues to cope with, all in the world's smallest, hottest sound/light booth with a restricted view of the stage - what's the point of that?
Break a leg!