Press Night method

It’s press night tonight. An actor prepares:

Alarm at 7. Up and breakfast, and then off to Screwfix to buy a plumber’s snake. I had one for 7 years. Kept it against ever needing it again. Chucked it a few months ago. Needed it again. £22.50. Bastards.

Snake first. Then acid. That’s the plan.

Snake involves disassembling the sink trap. Disassembling the trap involves having to put it back together again without it leaking, because putting acid down a badly sealed sink is really not smart. It also involves oozy mud and foul smells. Good method prep for Alonso and his obsession with oooooze.

The big timewaste today was trying to buy acid. This time last year there was that thing where people were throwing it at other people willynilly, like confetti at a wedding. A terrifying prospect, and divisive. “The aggressor was a bigendian and the victim a littleenendian.”

Perfect for selling newspapers. “The attacker bought it in Well Known Hardware Store”. So to avoid bad press and to announce that they are doing it for the public good, B&Q, Screwfix and Homebase have all stopped stocking One Shot – which is 93% sulphuric acid and it’s amazing that it can be purchased without a permit anyway. But it’s extremely effective. I wasted a few hours looking. I eventually came home with some alkaline crystals instead, which is pointless vs limescale but might help munge the catfood and chicken bits that have got in there.

Before I drop in the caustic stuff I test my new sink assembly with a plunger. The seals hold – hallelujah – and a whole load of broken glass weirdly pings out of the overflow. Ok. No amount of acid or alkali will deal with that surely. Glad it came out.

It’s the hottest day of the year. By this time I am pure liquid. I’ve been using dishcloths to screw pipes together because half of the ooze is the pipes and half of it is me. I’m Swamp Thing. But the caustic lumps finally return a degree of normal flow to the sink. For now. I put on the dishwasher and get in the coach. I still need acid.

The one thing I forgot to get is a spare show shirt. We get laundry done every other day, just like at Sprite, but halfway through my show under the tree last night one of the audience members asked me “Why are you so wet?” Rather than the truth: “lack of fitness plus heat plus acting”, I respond with “I’ve just been shipwrecked. What do you expect?” We both know the truth.

I’ll have to put that oozy shirt back on tonight. It will be like wrapping myself in weeping slugs. But I’m doing it for theatre! It’s press night, it’s a lovely show, and Tristan and Tanya are coming to see it. We are all three of us in the bus once again heading up to Oxford, and in plenty of time for the show.

And now I’m back in London, arriving on the coach. We were driven through a thunderstorm. The driver overlooked us smuggling a pizza onboard an otherwise empty bus. Hero.


The three of us put the world to rights as we went home. And both of my friends loved the show. An actor friend and a friend who doesn’t usually like theatre. Perfect. I knew it was going to be craic from day one. Turns out I was right…

Another beautiful night on the job, and apparently members of the press were in, on this night that is named after their industry. Just as well really. They will write words, most likely, these press people. It’s what members of the press tend to do after all. People sometimes wonder what words they might write. Words words words.

These words may or may not affect ticket sales in the next few weeks depending on factors such as where the words are put and who did the words. Although this show will sell out for sure. 

It’s another ephemeral art, the art of theatre criticism. Sometimes individuals puff up with the wind of youthful desire to be validated. Mostly the humans that do it are artists like the rest of us writing ephemera to explain even more fleeting ephemera.

I live for what is written in the wind though. It’s why I’m still here.

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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