Ham let

Back to work, such as it is. There was an audition talking place at The Arts for a show at The Gate in Dublin, and they needed an audition reader / steward. It fell to me. A lovely way to ease back into the nuts and bolts of my craft. It is always so humbling to see other actors audition. People who have got very little spare time as they hack together an existence in this expensive city, and they’ve focused what little time they have into learning and working a scene so that they can do it once, under pressure, in a room full of strangers with no audience involved, out of context, starting from 0 and going to 100 in seconds. I was reading a 23 year old girl and boy, alternating as they saw men and women. It’s a beautiful poetic piece of writing from one of the greatest of the modern playwrights. Every actor I saw could’ve done it and done it well. They’d all learnt their lines. Their work and drive was visible. Sitting on that side of the table I was once again struck by deep affection for the rogues and vagabonds I live alongside – for the willingness they have to work so hard and so openly and give their hearts with no certainty of remuneration. The theatre bunged me fifty quid for a short job and I had nothing at stake so I was alright, Jack. The guys on the other side of the table though – they had loads at stake. Months of their life. The chance of a changing job. And they all went about it beautifully.

Afterwards the director asked me to play the 23 year old woman but I fear he was joking. I said I’d only do it if he let me keep the beard…

Then I crossed town to go and watch Hamlet.

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to watch this Hamlet, frankly. It’s a very dear friend playing the title role, and I was quite seriously in the frame to be in the cast. They’ve been touring amazing places and having great big experiences. I went on the pilgrimage at a time where my diary was blocked out with the name of a job that ended up being worked by another actor for reasons I still don’t understand. If I hadn’t walked 700 miles I don’t think I’d have been able to watch the show at all. I did, and I could, and it was hard but it was lovely. I had a great night. Maddy was, as ever, entirely physically and emotionally committed and bold. So bold. Smart, funny electric work.

But then it all came out afterwards. I found myself angry, spiky, generally fractious, and unfair. I was machine-like in my attempts to fill myself with alcohol. I was on a huge avoidance tip, and making everything about everything but the thing that everything was actually about. I’ve got lots of messages on my phone from close friends asking me why I was a dick to them. It didn’t take me long to catch myself, but for a little while I was hurting, and hurting back. Now I’m sitting next to May who I just did my utmost to upset before she called me on it. And I’m glad she’s resilient.

Problem is we are now sitting in the freezing cold on my porch, watching the rain.


Brian is coming home and has keys, thank God. I haven’t got keys to my own flat, and when I get in I’ll be sleeping on my own sofa. I didn’t think this through properly tonight. Hamlet was a big noise in my head, approaching like a freight train, burdened with complicated emotions paired with the desire not to let them be visible so my friends could do their work.

I just assumed someone would be home, but Pickle can’t work the intercom. It’s helpful in one sense. We just had an argument brought on by my foul processing mood, and now she has to snuggle together with me because it’s freezing, despite the fact I just upset her. Thank God. Helps us let it slide. But the world is too cold for all these complicated emotions. I’ve just been in Spain for God’s sake. I’m not ready for UK November and I’m certainly not ready for UK November on my own doorstep after midnight when I’ve just been angry about broken dreams and the arbitrary nature of my job.

Which brings me to snuggling. After all the existential angst and cruelty and rage it’s useful to notice that the simple physical necessity of being close to another human to share warmth is a lovely thing. My legs are cold though. I need about three more humans to make this porch workable, but the two of us are doing pretty well considering it was bonking hail on my bald patch four hours ago.

And here’s Brian! HOME! Of sorts.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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