Saturday, 7 April 2012

Wasted by Kate Tempest

As the lights came up the woman next to me hurriedly wiped away her tears.  Her boyfriend hadn’t looked thrilled about being here when they first arrived; she had suggested he wait in the bar during the show but he refused.  He wanted to do this with her, for her.  He was confused by her tears, squeezed her hand and led her as quickly as he could out of the auditorium, away from the cause of her distress.

He reminded me of Ted.  I wondered if she felt like Charlotte.

An initial burst of projected images wordlessly introduced the three characters to us – Charlotte the classroom teacher aching to travel; Ted the office worker, tied, tired and tangled by the endless repetition of colourless days; Danny the arty drop out mate, with low level addictions to a life lived high as opposed to a powder-and-pill-free world that under delivers against what he believes he could be. 

The characters themselves then came out, sheepishly, blinking into the bright lights on the stage, a more crumpled, less refined version of the selves we had seen moments before on the big screen; smaller, less controlled.  They said nothing for a while.  Looked at one another, at us, went to speak, lost their nerve.  Then exploded into rhythmic dialogue, directly, with the audience. 

The piece continued energetically for an hour, a mix of monologues delivered to their friend Tony, and scenes from the 24-hour period as they commemorated the 10th anniversary of his death at 15 by getting wasted, just like they used to.

The audience thus becomes Tony, who in turn becomes an imaginary ‘other’, a confessor and totem for a period in time when the concept of tribe, of belonging, of meaning, was unquestioned and self-confidence inevitable.  Each character takes this moment to measure up their disappointment in the life lived and to contemplate how they might change, to get back on track to their ‘true selves’.

Finding definition and meaning in existence is a fundamental question that we all grapple with, ignore, medicate against and quest to achieve at different moments in our lives.  We have grown up surrounded by the dialogue of choice – political and commercial propaganda tells us anything, everything is possible.  Wasted touches upon the consequences and challenges of such an environment as its’ inhabitants come of age and asks how, given this excess of choice, we intend to live.

Moby Dick - The Maiden Voyage

Well.  What a very good Good Friday it is today.

And that was it.  Our first week out there, sharing our adventure aboard the Pequod with the great and the good public.  It has been an exhausting week. Multiple 16 hour days to transform the Bierkeller Theatre from nightclub into 19th century whaling ship (Sunday & a chunk of Monday), to rehearse all the technical aspects of the show (Monday and a chunk of Tuesday), to undertake the first full run of the show and dress rehearsal (Tuesday), to open our doors to welcome aboard our first audience (Tuesday) and then the press (Wednesday).  We rounded off our last show of the first week (Thursday) with a few fizzy lemonades & some homebaked whale[1] cake (by director Anna Girvan, is there no end to her list of talents?) to celebrate the birthday of our rather marvellous ASM (Pepz Cannell) and today we performed a mini get out to enable the Bierkeller to fulfil its other important function of being Bristol’s darkest and heaviest nightclub on a Friday and Saturday night.  Busy?  Yeah, you could say that.

BUT, what an awesome week!  The hard work of the weeks of rehearsal, prop and costume sourcing & making, in addition to the very physical slog of get ins and outs have really paid off.  The production has received great reviews (links below) and has been well appreciated by the audiences who have been fortunate enough to partake in the voyage thus far.  We’ve received nods of approval from our producer/writers and, well, yes, I’ll admit it, we’ve really rather loved getting the old girl launched and isn’t that really the magic fairy dust of theatre?  That a bunch of crazies get together and enthuse about making something happen and then work their proverbials off until, there you go, a show, an invitation to another world for a couple of hours is created.  Yes. It’s all a bit emotional.  There really hasn’t been enough sleep this week.  You’ll get more sense out of me next week. Possibly.

Well, we’re all off now, for some well earned shore leave.  We should probably save the celebratory babysham-and-brandy and fat-cigars-all-round levels of excess to the end of our run (which is an unthinkable amount of time away yet, thankfully) but a wee measure of grog is surely to be enjoyed by all before we board and relaunch the show again on Sunday evening.  

All that’s left to do is wish you all a very happy Easter/long weekend from DarkStuff Production and the Dickatrons…

[1] NB No actual whales were harmed during the baking of this cake.