I’m home in London with Pickle. I’ve come like Santa with Lily’s Kitchen cat food and extra litter in case she’s running low. It’s hard not seeing her in the week. Louis, one of the cats at my digs, will stand outside my room and yowl like hell at 2am, but if I let him in he doesn’t know how to curl up with me like Picks does. He’ll paw me and eventually leave again when he gets no attention. I’m looking forward to a snuggle with Pickle tonight. I rushed home to her after the show.
I lucked into a lift back home with Prospero and Ferdinand. Simon who plays Prospero drives right past my home heading to his. Perfect. I get right to my door. It’s my day off tomorrow and then for a week I’ll be in the rhythm of the showday. In an ideal world I’ll do a bit of Oxford tourism in the daytime week whilst working around thinking of things I can add or subtract from my scene, plus learning my lines for Twelfth Night. I want to embrace this week in Oxford, although it’s slightly dependent on Brian as I’ll commute if Pickle needs it, and I need to be home Wednesday daytime as I’m experimenting with having a cleaner but day one she’ll need me there to help her choose her battles, otherwise she’ll never return.
I’m looking forward to more thinking time now I know how audiences can be like under my willow tree. More time will bring more detail as it always does.
We had a beautiful night tonight. Compared to last night when they were all wet and drunk it was as different as night and day. I’m hoping we might have had our hardest show first.
Tonight ten very different groups of people who were having fun wandered round and witnessed ten very different scenes. I remember individuals from all of them. They had so much play in them. As I wrote a few weeks ago with Dead Man’s Hand, the weather changes everything. Wet people don’t like to play. Tonight everyone was playful and listening. So I played with them.
I had my Knight of the Ivy Garter, and my Knight of the Farty Bum. I had one group so hysterical it was hard work to suckerpunch them into my sadness. I had a man who regretted something deeply, and that scene weirdly felt like mutual group therapy for us both. Such a varied night. People bring what they bring, and whatever it is it’s something. Last night was fine for me, but hard work as the playfulness had been washed out of the audience by dark and rain. Tonight shows me what this can be. With good weather, this can be a true joy, and a powerful way to experience Shakespeare’s final, most experimental, most versically unusual tempestuous magical play. His longform retirement letter: “This rough magic / I here abjure …I‘ll break my staff, / Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, / And deeper than did ever plummet sound / I’ll drown my book.” He’s leaving work and potentially life. He already knows it. He’s using his unique wisdom to frame his farewell to his friends, without understanding how it might be dissected by generations of academics. It’s a play all about storms and regrets and ooze and mud and endings and new things replacing us.
For us, essentially there’s one big scene and then the audience is splintered by the shipwreck into ten groups of up to fourteen. They go on an adventure that I’m part of and then return for a full cast finish.
The scenes are extremely varied. Some of them are treasure hunts, some are scenes in odd places, some are puzzles, some are weird experiences or soundscapes. Mostly I’m just bipolar under a tree, although I do get to do a spot of finding my light in a big room while speaking chunks of verse, which I suppose we can call trad theatre.
In unrelated news, Oxford is mad on a Saturday. It’s like a zombie movie, but the zombies are less dynamic.