Monday, May 28, 2012

Back to Reality

The play's done, the set's been dismantled and I'm back.

Very little writing got done last week (none at all in fact), mainly due to me helping to build the set, paint it and do the dress rehearsals. Talking of dress rehearsals, I have some pictures for you.

Poopay, the star of the show

Jessica, the dim first wife

Julian (me) about to murder Poopay...and fail

Julian the corpse

Trying not to fall out of the window.

You can see more of the dress rehearsal photos on our facebook page. If you want to know more about us and what we're up to (okay, what I'm up to. I'm an egotist alright), 'like' us.

So what happened in the play? I'm so glad you asked.

We had a good Thursday and Friday night with laughing for the right reasons in the right places, but that didn't prepare us for Saturday night when everyone found everything funny. As a result, four of the cast, me included, nearly corpsed on stage and had to look away from the audience and hope that our shaking shoulders didn't show.

The audience's laughter started when Poopay pushed back her long coat and showed her lace underwear, suspenders and stockings and continued when Julian told Poopay she reminded him of his mother. (I should point out that my mother was in the audience watching this). The laughter grew louder as Reece explained he'd been responsible for killing his two wives. You never can tell waht an audience will be like.

When Julian came back on and spun the retreating Poopay round as you would in a barn dance, the laughter soared again, but was thankfully replaced by a lack of laughter as he threatened to kill her by making Poopay swallow more medication than was healthy.

When Julian grabbed her hair only to find out it was a wig, the audience erupted again. Poopay made her escape through a communicating door and found herself in the same room, but 20 years earlier in 1994 and meets Ruella Welles, Reece's second wife. The two of them have a conversation that borders on farcical, each telling the other that they are the one who is right leaving the audience clutching their stomachs. When Ruella tries to calm Poopay down by telling her take deep breaths and then, in a conversational tone, asks her what it's like being a prostitute, I thought the walls would collapse.

After having Poopay removed by Harold the house detective, Ruella tries the communicating door, knowing she won't sleep unless she proves it isn't a time machine and ends up in the same room in 1974, on Reece and Jessica's honeymoon night. Disturbingly, the audience collapsed in laughter when Reece came on in his underwear.

Returning to 1994, she recalls Poopay to the room, escorted by Harold the house detective (a character name that deserves a film) whereupon the audience chuckled and guffawed at almost every turn as Ruella explains that the two of them can travel through time.

Eventually, Poopay comes back to 2014 to get the confession, now they've both agreed the door is a time portal, and as she leaves Julian comes out of the bedroom, where he's been reading Lorna Doone to Reece, in the blond wig he'd removed from Poopay earlier. For some reason this brought howls of laughter from the audience and nearly caused me to break down laughing. Seeing the stage manager laughing and being the only one on stage at that point didn't help and it was with a lot of self control that I managed to get my next line out.

What I didn't know was Reece and the two stage hands behind me were also having trouble controlling their laughter, so it was just as well that I'd delivered my lines before turning to them, adjusting my wig and walking off.

Ruella then goes back to 1974, gives the confession to Jessica and as the younger Harold the house detective tries to eject her there is yet more laughter at the slapstick nature of the performances.

The last scene arrives. Julian follows Poopay from 2014 to 1994 (wigless) and Act 1 ends with Poopay screaming and Julian rolling his sleeves up ready to drown her as the lights go down. The applause was loud.

What the audience discovered is Poopay has a scream that a Dr Who assistant would be proud of. What they didn't find out is that my ears were ringing as I was right next to her when she screamed.

Act 2 was a lot shorter. It began with Ruella, Harold and Jessica in 1974 talking about time travel, Jessica saying it isn't possible, Ruella saying it is and Harold asking if Ruella could drop him off in Clapham on the way.

Ruella gets back to 1994 and Poopay tells her about Julian, how he slipped on a bar of soap and hit his head on the toilet. When Poopay says that Julian's now under the sofa they leaped up and the audience cracked up. A minute later they are reassuring themselves that they're okay when the sofa moves, Julian lets out a death rattle and several members of the audience have a mild heart attack, no one knowing that I'd been under the thing since the beginning of Act 2 some twenty five minutes earlier.

I got dragged off the stage and due to not being held properly knocked my head on the door jam. OUCH.

While I was backstage being made up to look forty-five, Ruella got Harold the house detective to rearrange things so it looked as though Julian died while having a threesome. When Harold saw the dead body of a 65 year old Julian he exclaimed 'Look at him. You've destroyed his entire metabolism. Whatever it is you're up to, don't invite me along' the audience once again collapsed quicker than a minority government in Italy. As they put my body into the laundry skip Harold's brought in to get the body out without anyone noticing (offstage and not really as I was having my makeup redone), Poopay yelled out 'he's too fat', at which point my eldest son lead the audience with his highly infectious machine gun laugh.

Poopay and Harold took the now dead Julian to another room and after some time and a little calmness Poopay and Ruella (now in different rooms) realise that although 2014 Julian was dead, 1994 Julian wasn't and because they've read the confession know that tonight in 1994 is when Julian kills Ruella. Poopay screams out that Julian is still alive and Harold the house detective shouts back in alarm 'I've just handcuffed him to the bed'. More loud laughter and a growing pool of salty water at the foot of each chair from the tears of the audience.

Julian arrives at Ruella's door, grabs her and goes into the bedroom, wraps a sheet around her and takes Ruella to the balcony to push her off. Poopay comes in, fails to knife him at which point 45 year old Jessica comes in throught the communicating door, pretending to be Julian's mother (who Julian had killed when he was young) and Julian falls over the balcony to his death. Cue raucous laughter from the audience and a cheer from my son.

Nice but dim Jessica unties Ruella and accidentally spins her over the balcony. In the ensuing efforts to get her back Poopay mounts Jessica (see photo above) to get a grip and as they try and pull Ruella back, Jessica shouts 'I feel like a prize Fresian' to which Poopay replies, 'I hate to think what that makes me'. More loud laughter ensues at ahich point Harold walks in, sees what's happening, shouts 'oh my god' and leaves. At this point we nearly have to hand out oxygen bottles to the audience because of the breathless laughing.

It winds down after that, but not before Jessica goes to the window and waves to the crowd below studying Julian's squished, dead body to yet more audience laughter.

After a little summing up, the audience have calmed down, Poopay returns to 2014 and discovers that Reece and Ruella didn't divorce. With Julian absent, Reece becomes a nicer man and Ruella goes to the children's home where Poopay was brought up and adopted her, but die in 2013 of cancer.

A happy ending as Poopay leaves the hotel room, looks skyward at the soul of the dear departed Ruella and says 'Thank you'.

Well, that's the play and what you missed. If I get more photos, I'll put them on facebook and maybe share one or two with you.

Adieu and see you on Wednesday.

p.s. Another author needing a legup to the 100 followers is DR Cartwright. She has a book, Son of Jack, out in electronic format and is another great, undiscovered writer.


defcon said...

Heh, glad the play was a success. Sounds like every had a good ole' time. :) Reminds me when I went to see a play, a parody of Lord of the Ring, and the actors had such a hard time keeping a straight face, which made it all the funnier.

Lisa Shafer said...

Those are excellent photos.
Sounds like you had a great experience. I love community theatre. When I was still young enough to get parts, I used to do it all the time. (Men of all ages are always needed, but there are few roles for women who look over 30 -- and the roles that do exist for them always go to friends of the director.)

Martin Willoughby said...

Defcon: Cracking up while performing a comedy is OK. It's when you breakdown in laughter during a drama it get embarrassing.

Lisa: That's a problem with plays, films and TV. I've never understood why hollywood women over 40 don't get together and form a production company and actively source scripts that feature women over 30 in good roles.

Kelley Lynn said...

Those pictures are SO cool! I love the theater. Miss it a lot.

Martin Willoughby said...

Kelley: It was great fun to the end.

Karen S. said...

Wonderful photos! It looks like you all had the best of time performing together as well!

Martin Willoughby said...

Karen: Oh we did...when we managed to keep a straight face.

Nicole said...

I enjoyed reading about your play and learning what it's like from the actor's perspective. Looks like a really fun play to do and the pictures are great! Job well done, sir!

Dana said...

Great photos! Looks like the play was a lot of fun.

Martin Willoughby said...

Nicole: Thank you. It was fun, a lot of fun.

Dana: More fun than anyone should have. Well maybe not.