So it begins. The big long journey back to Chelsea. We were in Earl Haig Hall tonight. Another corking show. This project fills me with joy. Wonderful people doing difficult work together. The problem with working the Crouch End Festival is that Crouch End is the other side of the world from where I live. I suppose when our first show was in Pimlico I was lucky. So now I have to pay it back in travel time.
Today was a low responsibility show for me, as far as they go. I didn’t speak for the whole first half. Then I was Lady Macduff and Siward. Lady Macduff has a beautiful self contained scene. It’s a masterclass in writing by the old bastard. God he’s good. We need to care about the “pretty chickens and their dam” to care about Macduff beating Macbeth. So we see a sad mother actively caring for her son, wanting him to have a father figure. We see her as her inner turmoil regarding her husband’s flight causes her to let her personal shit overcome her need to cleanly educate the boy. We then see her son unpacking that suspicious logic. Then there’s an amazingly human, self deprecating messenger. “If you can take a homely man’s advice,” (beautifully implying how utterly stunning lady Macduff must be.) Then she sees her son die trying to protect her, and runs. Her fate is not unpacked but it definitely ends in her death, and Shakespeare takes it off stage. It’s a remarkably crafted short part and a joy to speak.
Then Siward. It was my first Siward tonight. We’ve combined young and old into one character, who essentially works like the guy in The Shining who you think is going to sort it out, but dies almost immediately. It ended up being about me and a Tesco van. By the time Siward came into play we had significantly spilled out into the road behind the hall. As I was about to enter, an actor I know of old clocked me on the street, walking home. That’s Crouch End for you. “Al! Good to see you man!” I am about to go and speak lines I’ve never spoken out loud in context before. I have no time for niceties. I come across as pretty cold.
I end up lying on the road being killed by Maddy’s Macbeth whilst old friends with tights on their heads hold back a Tesco van that might run over my head. As soon as I’m properly dead I stand up with tights on my head too and wave the bemused driver through.
It’s golden, this show. Afterwards at the bar an Irish woman says to me twice (because I blocked it the first time) “You’re actually very good.” I guess she had watched me be silent for the whole first half with tights on my head. The shock of understanding I could speak too had catalysed her into needing to express that surprise. It’s an old bad think, that one, brought on by the way many industries work. “The actors in the smaller parts are somehow lesser than the actors in the bigger parts.” It is of course entirely flawed. But it’s rife. I just told her “I’m glad you enjoyed it.” I couldn’t be bothered to explain. Leila only had about three lines tonight. Last night she played Macbeth and smashed it. 8 women and 5 men tonight. I love this project. You might find I’m banging on about it until it’s done on Friday. Maybe if you’re free in Crouch End Thursday or Friday you could come. Fuck knows who I’ll be playing. But it’s my creative outlet, and it’s about the show, not my specific work. We are all working in the same direction, evenly.