I’ve accidentally got myself involved in another random wonderful event. “Night’s Darkling Glory.” It’s a rare and lovely thing. It was sold out long before I was booked. So I’m under no pressure to market it. But I do think it’s gorgeous.
You arrive at a car park in London Bridge, about 5 minutes walk from the warehouse that Gatsby plays in. There’s a fire pit, and pigs turning on the spit. If you hear swearing, that’ll be the chef, Natalie Coleman, who apparently won masterchef with a scotch egg. They’re cooking hog with slow braised lentils. As you’d expect, it’s exceptionally good and as you wait in the car park the smell wafts over you, which is fine if you’re not vegetarian. Occasionally a jester will pop out, or even the king himself if there’s lots of faffing. The king is devilishly handsome. He is very happy to spend time messing around with punters until the tables are laid. He has a crown and tights. He looks ace.
You’re ushered into a banqueting hall with beautifully laid tables, some items still vibrating from hasty placement. A small army of bemused waiters in jerkins parade up and down with trays of food. At the head of the top table sits King Mark of Kernow.
Sad, when he isn’t troubleshooting something or getting swept up in it. Addled with mead, or at least pretending to be. He has invited the commoners to a feast so he can take comfort in their simplicity, hear their laughter and try to remember what it was to be happy. Most of the time he’s a grumpy sod, particularly when he has various stressed out event organisers giving him conflicting messages, drunk guests trying to get him to give them free mead, and a chef standing behind him trying to persuade him to just get all the covers to leave so she can relay: “Just shout at them, you’re the king.” “I think the people who have employed me to be the king might not be very pleased if I did.” Eventually, however, once everyone is happy that people hogged all the hog, the action changes. There’s a little scene. The King starts doing his Brian Blessed impersonation and tells everyone to get out while making everyone who has ever done formal vocal training feel a little uncomfortable by ragging his vocal folds.
You get out obediently, despite a bottleneck at a small door and the fact that everyone knows it’s only urgent in pretendyland. You leave the king sweating on his knees in a pile of filthy straw, dreading the fact that it’s all about to happen again like Groundhog Day.
You go upstairs. Upstairs is dressed like a ship. Actors do scenes, and you laugh. Before long, a man tells a long tale, accompanied by a cellist. The tale is that of Tristan and Isolde. One of the ancient tales of star crossed lovers.
Isolde was my bride. But she met my nephew, who was far more age appropriate and hot. Despite this, she wouldn’t have done the things she did with my nephew Tristan, had she not drunk a love potion. So it’s down to me to forgive them because their argument is “It’s not our fault. We drank something ” Anyway, the details are told to you, accompanied by cello. It’s very sentimental and lovely. Then you go upstairs to the top of the building. And there, in the eaves, you hear a good sized chamber orchestra playing Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, interspersed with bits of narration, and enhanced by a brilliant soprano, still at the Royal College, dressed beautifully in unutterably restrictive clothing that looks fab and somehow still allows her to sing.
It’s a really cultural evening. I’m glad to be part of it. The music is brilliant. The food is superb. Downside is, the actors are being paid in fruit pastilles, which is nothing unfamiliar but is certainly disappointing considering what has been spent elsewhere. I decided to suck on that particular bitter sweetie this time. I’ve turned down a lot recently when I’ve been asked to work for expenses. My entire fee should be my nightly fee. But I respect the director and know she is campaigning for more if this comes back. She went to my old drama school too. I want to support her where possible. It’s strange to work so hard for so little. But the event is glorious, and I’m glad to be a part of it even if it hurts. So I am. I’m the king. From now until Sunday. But you can’t come because we’re sold out. Ha ha ha.