Saturday, 29 March 2014

Back on the Boards

I trekked up to Stoke Newington earlier today. Only 20 minutes by bus from the end of my street, it's a neighbourhood which, like much of East and North London, is changing so rapidly that any description of it today is likely to be history tomorrow. Suffice it to say that yuppies and Turkish (Cypriot?) immigrants vie for retail and restaurant outlets and it's often hard to tell the difference between the two, with a typical example being the Olive Café on the High Street.

I was at the Olive to meet Matt and Kellie, producers and writer-star and director respectively of A Man Who Lost His Mind. Having worked with me once in a very short film that took almost 24 hours to shoot, and having seen my Californian Lives, Matt (that's him in the picture) decided that I was the person to cast in the role of the Commuter - a bowler-hatted gent who appears in the bedroom of the Man (Matt) in the afore-mentioned play.

It's been almost a year since I last trod the boards and smelled the greasepaint and other odours of over-used and under-cleaned theatres, and so I didn't hesitate before accepting the part. (When I told him, the Other Half looked at me sceptically and asked about payment. I didn't like to confess that the thought hadn't crossed my mind and I muttered something about profit-share. Memo to self: ask Matt about money: is there any?) And so today Matt and I, under Kellie's watchful eye, rehearsed our two-handed scene.

It's a nice part, the Commuter. I have to act pompous - which comes naturally - and there are comic moments that are easy to draw out. I've learnt most of my lines and Matt and I have an good rapport on stage. I'm much more relaxed than I was when I started acting; I know what I'm doing and I'm confident in my ability to do it. And because it's only one scene at the beginning of the play, which is over in ten minutes, I don't feel pressured. After I bugger off backstage I can spend the rest of the play doing the Evening Standard sudoku or working on my own next masterpiece. As for the play itself - a surreal portrait of, you guessed it, a man who has lost his mind - it's short and intriguing. If you're in South London and have nothing better to do on 13th or 14th April, come to the White Bear Theatre in Kennington and see for yourself whether I made the right decision to go back on the boards . . .

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