Another interesting show last night, well it’s always interesting, I’ll call it more eventful. Firstly my costume seems to have shrunk. I can definitely say I have not grown. I have had no time to eat whilst I have been doing this show! When I finish work and get to the theatre its time to get ready, and then by the time the show finishes its too late and my hunger has passed anyway. So for whatever reason it’s shrunk. The top half simply doesn’t cover all it should cover and it’s really not that kind of show. So, much to the dismay of my leading man who suggested I just go on topless, ah bless him and he’s 20s sense of humour, I fashioned a top underneath it. Then when we get on stage one of the chairs on set is broken, thankfully not mine. Selfish I know but hey, I have boobs to worry about!! Anyway we all hear the twang as the actor sits on it and hold our breaths. Thankfully it, and he survives. Then in the second half I actually get hit in the face by one of the other actresses, which actually works rather well as we are involved in a rather heated scene. But it really, really hurts, the audience seem to love it however so we milk it. I look into her eyes with a smile that says “I’m hurt but its ok it looks good so let’s go with it”. She sympathises, last week she was thrown to the floor and collided with a chair on the way down. I can not tell you how many times our focus has been tested!! Of course we have to react to these unexpected events, there is nothing worse than watching theatre when the actors will not acknowledge when something has gone wrong. Obviously I don’t mean to step out of character and laugh or panic, but just work round it for crying out loud! In one scene with my romeo his sword fell out and so I picked it up and said “take care my love, I need you alive!” I think the audience were aware that this wasn’t intentional but it worked non the less. In another scene however, where myself and another actor are standing out watching the action I hear a scratching down by my feet, I don’t look just ignore it….. and thank god I did. I am informed afterwards that it was a rat. Yes that’s right; there was a rat by my foot. Now I am good at not corpsing and working round unaccounted for eventualities but I think ratty may have got me!!
But it was the end of the show that summed up the evening for me. In a scene which for myself and romeo is the crescendo of the piece, our emotions are high and charged, we are working our butts off and……….. ring ring, ring ring. And, as if this makes it any worse, it’s that very annoying Dom Jolly tune. After all that has happened I can’t help but feel a little crushed, its been such a mammoth of a show and it has taken a lot for me to get to this moment and to get lost in the scene and just like that, wham, the atmosphere has been broken. Now I really wanted to stop. I know the audience will still be focusing and staying with us but all we say now will be wasted as long as that phone is still ringing. But I have a dilemma; I have not discussed this with my leading man. We hadn’t taken into account the possibility of a phone going off, very silly. So I know that if I just carry on staring at him but holding back on my lines there is a possibility that he will assume I’ve forgotten my speech and panic so I have to carry on. It was heart breaking and a little soul-destroying to be honest. The lady has it in one of those Mary Poppins bags so she doesn’t find it, it rings out. She goes to keep looking for it but is clearly aware of the noise so leaves it and so, of course, it goes off again. She eventually gets it and turns it off but by then the moment’s gone. I would love to have just stopped and waited, a perfect example of this is the great David Suchet. A phone went off during one of his performances and he just stared into the distance, not stepping out of character, but just stopped. When it eventually rang out he gave a half-smile and picked up exactly where he’d left off from. He didn’t improvise or come out of character, he simply paused, and the integrity of the piece was not lost. Hugh Jackman I believe actually interacted with the culprit when it happened to him. It was during a preview of A Steady Rain and when the phone rang, Jackman, completely in character, with his Chicago cop accent, asked “You want to get it?”….and who’d argue with Wolverine?? I know I wouldn’t