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Monday, 14 July 2014

A Nine Day's Wonder - Day One

On Sunday it all began - a nine day's wonder - pulling together a new play ready for full performance conditions in nine days.  It was a slightly more fraught day than expected as we lost 20 minutes to a fire alarm going off (there was no fire and it was raining outside) but we just about got everything done.  Here are a few snaps from the day.

On a wet Sunday morning, a lone cast member arrives...


Soon joined by a few more...

Meanwhile, in the GKR, some words are read...







Saturday, 12 July 2014

Complicated Charts

Well, tomorrow is the big day - first rehearsal of this nine day's wonder.  Heaven help us all - it's going to be hard work.  I've done more pre-planning for this show than for any other in my life, and I still don't feel ready.  I've got charts coming out of my ears - props lists, costume and make-up charts etc.  And I need them, because there are far too many moving parts for me to keep in my head.  And making lists means I'm slightly less stressed, which at present I am.  Boy am I stressed.  Because, until rehearsals start, everything is an unknown.  Anything could happen, good or bad, and any slight bump on the road looks like it's going to throw the band wagon into a ditch.  So I make lists, as my form of basic suspension.  Enough of this metaphor, let's move on.
For tomorrow it starts to move from my head into action - tomorrow we block the final scene (which is fiendishly complicated) and do a walk through of the play - so that everyone gets the totality of the action in their heads.  And, as the title of the play suggests, it is a complicated show - there is a lot to get your head around.  But I know my marvellous cast will get through it - as the route has been well planned.
Though I may have changed a bed to a sofa today.  Final decision on Wednesday for that one.

And, because I haven't mentioned them enough, here's the fabulous cast in full.  (Though the list doesn't include the surprise special guests!  Who are, naturally, a surprise.)

CHRISTINE                   –                      Helen Arbon
MATTHEW                    –                     Robert Crighton
SAMANTHA                  –                      Rachel Edwards
KENNY                         –                      Michael Harding
KATY                            –                      Annie Eddington
JACQUELINE                –                      Penny Mills
BOBBY                         –                      Professor Kaos
CHLOE                         –                      Jess Miller
JACK                            –                      Paul Vella
MAXINE                        –                      Gemma Leggett

SIMON                          –                      Mark Littlewood

THE CUPBOARD PEOPLE are played by members of the company

Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk (go to the WHAT'S ON section, July and click on the show bar to find the ticket button) or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Friday, 11 July 2014

Complicated Maxine

I meant to post this yesterday, but I was busy. So I didn't.  That's just the way I roll sometimes.  I was rehearsing this section one morning, travelled to London, did a show, came back and the next day I was knackered.  Alright, I'm sorry.  Stop accusing me with your electronic stares.

Actually, while we're on the subject of going to London, I should mention a bit about it.  I was doing The Shakespeare Delusion for the Face to Face Festival - a festival for solo performance held at the LOST Theatre, which I've done a couple of times now (in fact, the last time I did it was the day before I was hospitalised - how I got to London, did a show, and came home again in the state I was in, goodness only knows!) and it was one of my better performances.  I haven't done the show for a month, so it wasn't fresh, and I was worried it would be flat.  I don't know if was diminishing blood sugar levels or something similar, but something different came out in that performance.  There was more lostness, more despair, more fear.  It was, all in all, good.  And the next night I went to see King Lear at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds - the Globe on Tour - which was appropriate, as The Shakespeare Delusion is very much a mini King Lear in the presentation of a descent into madness.  Rounded off those two days nicely.

Anyway, back to the point of the post (Complicated Pleasures I may have mentioned it before), on Wednesday the penultimate pre-rehearsal meeting occurred with Gemma - who's playing the part of Maxine.  Maxine has a particular journey in the play - unlike most other characters who appear reasonably normal at the start and peel off in layers of weirdness, Maxine starts the play as a self obsessed bitch and reveals something human underneath later on.  She is the mother of Simon - who is a small child played by a ventriloquists dummy - and has helped make him the child he is.  A Midwich Cuckoo.  Except his eyes are not gold and shiny.
It's a great comic role and Gemma gets to play against Paul Vella - who was her sparring partner in Much Ado About Nothing last year, when they were Beatrice and Benedick - so their scenes together will make sparks fly.

As usual here is pictorial evidence that this meeting took place.



Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Complicated Jacqueline

Last night was one of the last pre-rehearsal meetings - with Penny who is playing Jacqueline.  Jacqueline is the most normal person in the play.  She has no dark secrets, she isn't really someone else, she's just, deep down... an idiot.  A clever and well educated person who does a deeply moronic thing - she signs a contract and her life isn't her own for the rest of the play.  We spent a fair amount of time discussing costuming, as she changes physically throughout the play quite dramatically - though nowhere near as dramatically as Samantha (more on that later).  She changes at the whims of others and her costume is as close to an obvious political point as a comedy like this should go.
Here is a picture of Penny pretending to read her script, just moments after she said she really hated me for not mentioning I was going to take a picture of her pretending to read her script.


Righto - I'm off to meet the next member of cast now and then off to London to perform The Shakespeare Delusion.  It's a busy day.

Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Spanking of Simon

I think it's important to stress, this was a very important test and there's nothing weird about this at all.
AT ALL.


Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Monday, 7 July 2014

We Need To Talk About Simon

Simon is possibly my most twisted creation to date - and that is going some.  He's a small child.  He also believes he is a minor god.  He is played by a puppet.  He is scary.  Here is a picture of the puppet I bought to use as Simon.


He is, of course, fucking terrifying and most people don't want to be within a three mile radius of him.  Which is unkind.  Though if you put glasses on him then he does look a bit like Michael Gove, as all ventriloquist dummies do, so it isn't an unreasonable reaction.
Simon is, according to my script, supposed to be operated by other members of the company - a desperate attempt on my part to reduce the cast size.  I decided that this was too much like spinning on a sixpence and asked Mark Littlewood to voice and move the puppet.  He is a picture of Mark trying not to look freaked out by the evil puppet child.

Note, he's a Simon Sez puppet - I couldn't not buy him!
We spent a pleasant morning going over his lines and generally testing out the capabilities of the puppet.  It will need some adjusting (the mouth makes too much noise when you operate it - so I'll stick a few bits of felt onto the jaw to muffle it) and his legs are something of a nuisance, but otherwise we're very pleased.  And in a few days time I'll release the spanking video, to really freak you out.

Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Complicated Bobby

Oh Bobby, Bobby - how to describe Bobby?  He's my favourite part in Complicated Pleasures - he is the part I wrote for myself, only I'm not playing him in this production.  More on that in another post.  Bobby is a professional stalker, who pops up in a fair number of scenes, often hiding in plain sight - only to leap out to take pictures, steal underwear and generally be a bit weird - in a nice way.  He is, in his own weird way, the most honest of all the characters in the play.  Here's a piece of stage direction which (sadly) won't quite happen as I would like, but gives you an idea.

BOBBY appears from his hiding place or at a window – be inventive – and takes a photo.  In my ideal version he would descend on a wire, but I think that’ll be beyond most producers.  He disappears again.

I'd like to put him in every scene at some point - but it a gag can get gratuitous after a while.
He's being playing by Professor Kaos.  Yes, that's his name - or, at least, the only name I've ever got out of him.  I worked with Kaos on a couple of projects last year and I'm looking forward to his stalking me in two weeks time.
Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of him pretending to rehearse to our one to one meeting on Friday - so here's a picture of a penguin instead.

Bobby - or rather, not.
Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Friday, 4 July 2014

Complicated Jack

And today's pre-production meeting was with Paul Vella - who's playing Jack.  We had a lengthy discussion about Jack today, as well as the men of Complicated Pleasures in general.  They tend to be... weak.  I think that's fair.  They're weak men, they don't really know what they want or how what to do with it when they get it.  Actually, they've got a pretty good idea what to do with it - or at least where to put it - but they inevitably ruin anything that's good.
Take Jack.  Here's a picture of Paul Vella pretending to read about Jack.  He can't, because he's looking at a page that Jack isn't in.

Look Paul, that's the first page and you don't enter till Scene 2
Now Jack is, on the surface, a fairly straightforward guy.  He's juggling a complicated life - a single parent, has new girlfriend, a job (never mentioned, but he has one) and his son is a bit evil.  Now, add to this that he's having an affair and, well, that happens, it's not too unusual, he's still a straightforward guy.  But look under the surface and his character is far darker.  He's controlling, he's taking pills for some condition, he probably has an eating disorder... he's a mess.  But the play doesn't linger on these things.  Like anyone you met in the pub you'd think he was a fairly straightforward guy - but under the surface the legs are going like crazy just to keep up the pretence.  And it's the same for most the other characters.  Except perhaps for Bobby - but I'll tell you about him tomorrow.
And now, I'll leave you with a picture of Paul smiling like I'm pointing a gun at his head.  Which I was.


Complicated Pleasures: 
A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Complicated Chloe

Today was my one-to-one pre-production meeting with the marvellous Jessica Millar - who's playing Chloe in Complicated Pleasures.  Here is a picture of Jess pretending to be reading her script.

Jess did actually read through her part, but not at the time of this photo.  This photo is a lie. 
Anyway, her part is comparatively small in relation to most the rest of the cast, who appear in, on average six or seven scenes each.  However, whilst Chloe only appears in four scenes, her impact is great - and she also has, in compensation for the fewer scenes, one big and complicated (that word again) scene later in the play.
Chloe is also one of the more foul mouthed of characters of the play - so much so, that we stopped reading through the text in the Quay bar when a nice group of older ladies had a meeting, so as not to offend.  (Which is a bit of an assumption - for all we knew, they would have loved it!)
We discussed at length the character, her unfortunate make up/fake tan (Jess will be largely orange for the show), where much of the source (or is it sauce?) material for the play came from and generally laughed a lot.  Here is a photo of Jess smiling, enigmatically.  Though it is entirely fake and had nothing to do with any material from the play.

Completely fake smile, nothing to see here, move along please.
Tomorrow morning I'll be working with the fantastic Paul Vella - who's character, Jack, gets to know Chloe rather well.  But then Jack knows quite a few of the other characters rather well.

Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Complicated Settings

And, with only 19 days to go, Complicated Pleasures moves into scribbling shit down on paper and calling it a set design.  Ultimately, there won't be a set as such, more a setting.  As Project 6 of my ten projects this year, the show is technically an experiment - so we're more concerned with making certain elements of the show work - and if we have a power cut, we're fucked.  And, most important of all, giving the audience a damn good night out.  If you like that sort of thing.
But, for the cast it is good to have some idea what the show is going to look like on some level.  Especially as we have practically no stage time prior to curtain up - this is because I, in my infinite wisdom, booked the space for a night after one of the busiest weekends of the year.  I'm clever that way.  So, here are a couple of sketches I did to smooth explanations... or bamboozle.  One of the two.



And tomorrow - I've two one-to-one meetings with the cast to start getting them up to speed with these sketches.  More tomorrow.

Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Complicated Wetness

Well, it's a quiet day in the Complicated Pleasures workshop.  I've been testing the science of air resistance verses gravity mostly.  You know the trick, turning a glass of water upside down with only a coaster on the end to hold the water in place.  Okay, not quite, I was also using clingfilm, rubber bands and gaffer tape - but a little cheating is to be expected.
Why am I doing this?  Well, you'll just have to come to the show to find out.

Complicated Pleasures: A Modern Sex Comedy by Robert Crighton performs at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm - tickets available online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk or over the phone on 01787 374 745

A beaker, some clingfilm, some gaffer tape... here's one we made earlier!
The wet patch - but was it made by accident or design...