NEWS

Coming to the end of the tour

It is an unfeasibly hot day in Bournemouth. I’ve brought iPad, ordinary pad-pad, and a couple of books down to a stretch of water where wealthy, sockless middle-aged men in chinos and striped T-shirts are drinking afternoon champagne and boating with their similarly-striped, dramatically over-sunglassed female equivalents. I have never been the boaty type, but as one is grabbed under the armpit and dragged screaming and spitting through the supermarket aisles of life towards middle-age, it is comforting to find such self-contained communities of the griseous enjoying themselves with such opulent, rickety abandon.

My only worthwhile boating memory is from my twenties: that of hiring a rowing boat with my friend Joe in the Lake District. ‘Hiring’ is an optimistic term: the arrangement was that we would pay for the jaunt upon our return when, I imagine, the boat-man would know how long to charge us for. We rowed in the rain and sun, swigged Talisker from the bottle like the hardened seafarers we imagined we were, and played loud upon our harmonicas; then, when we realised too late that time was too short and the jetty too far to return to, we sailed on towards the train station we needed to reach, tied up the boat now several miles from the hire point, took a self-timed photograph of us stood triumphantly by the vessel we were abandoning, and fucked off home.

It was one of the best days of my life. Promises were made to myself to row more often, to canoe regularly, and to live the life aquatic. None of this came to pass. Instead, I have framed in my office, and holding pride of place, a glorious souvenir of us in our rain hats, flanking our boat and beaming.

Bournemouth, for readers of ‘Confessions’, was also home to my occasional Christmas family holiday at the Water’s Edge Hotel. My grandfather would treat us all to a few days by the sea. I had tried to find a picture of the hotel but found that it had since been pulled down. I am indebted to one Dean Watson, who found and emailed an old picture of said hotel and in doing so awakened some happy memories.

(On the subject of thank-yous: I received a copy of ‘Twitterature’ and a letter from a chap who worked at a book factory near or in Oxford: if you are reading this or might know him, I apologise profusely for losing your/his address. Do email me through this site.)

With just two more days of touring remaining, I shall miss the delights of new towns and lazy afternoons in eagerly acquired local haunts. The upcoming Shaftesbury Theatre London run brings with it its own peculiar pleasure, but somehow with TV concerns and other intrusions, the days don’t quite remain as carefree as I intend them to. There is, though, the private love of feeling part of a largely nocturnal stratum of London life known only to a bunch of actors and performers; a feeling of inclusion in something subterranean and steeped in joy. For a month and a half, one becomes part of London Theatreland, and for a lover of said theatre, that’s rather giddying. There are the concomitant delights of having ones social calendar cleared, save for lunchtime meets with those who might find themselves free in the days for the same reason, and of having a new home in the faded glamour of a west-end dressing room, available to make hospitable and homely according to ones whim. Of finding out who from the ranks of fame or friends might be in attendance that night, of stocking up on wine and treats to offer should they ‘come round’; meeting actor friends from other shows and discussing the idiosyncrasies of our audiences from that night; and of being on first-name terms with the doormen and waiting staff of local late-night clubs and eateries that cater for the post-show social artisan.

For my little crew it will be a blessed relief not to have to install and de-rig the set for six whole weeks, and for us all it will be a pleasure to tidy, make shiny, then primp and pimp the set with any extras which have been waiting for the convenience of the break to be installed. The show is always at its best in town. After a couple of day’s grace in which I will once again feel my bedroom carpet under my feet, perhaps watch a late-night movie with my beloved, and, excitingly, start painting a portrait of our very own Mr. Coops, the show will once again go on. A few nights to get up to speed, a press night, the reviews later that week which I won’t read (but will ask my director and PR personage for a general overview and to report any concerns worth attending to), and then the pleasure and challenge of re-creating the show six nights a week for a further six weeks without letting it ever feel like I’m merely repeating it.

Svengali, despite an error in the London Metro to the contrary, runs from June 8th to July 16th. Booking details and links are on this site. If you do come I hope very much that you enjoy it at least as much as I do. Before then, I shall soak up this impossible Bournemouth sun while I can.


Tour so far

The last two weeks have been a delightful hiatus in Birmingham, a city I really like. It was re-vamped a while back with such pride, and the area around Brindley Place in particular boasts enough great restaurants to keep a foodie like me very happy for a fortnight. Bank Restaurant is top of the list, being where I spent pretty much every afternoon, and Loves nearby was a really excellent new find.

It’s also a great city for the tour, as the staff of the New Alexandra theatre are beyond compare. We are lucky enough to have met some really excellent, super-friendly crews during our tours: the Alex bunch are a particular huge joy. Kim, the general manager, had made me an astonishing photo print as a welcome gift, along with some excellent whisky. More of that please. Thank you everyone there, it’s always such a treat.

The famous Brum friendliness was evident at stage door: numbers are so large outside now that it’s always a bit of a rush, but everyone was super-lovely and didn’t seem to mind. We added a tiny new bit to the show that seems to be working well, on top of the improvements we made back in Oxford. The process of continually trying to improve and tweak is one of the real joys of touring, and of course helps keep the show feeling fresh for me.

I donned the classic hat and shades celebrity disguise for a day-off trip to Alton Towers one afternoon with the gang, and we soared and dipped and vomited on Nemesis and Oblivion and Air and all the rest of them. I rather like 13, for what it’s worth. I like a bit of old-fashioned big dipperiness. A bit of plummeting punctuation to my rides. Nowadays it’s all on the one note, all the same velocity and turny-twisty.

Last year I remember riding everything, including the hilarious and terrifying Oblivion, as many times as I could, like a six-year old high on Fanta, and found later that I had strained my throat with all the tension and nearly lost my voice. So this time I was more careful. (Also, I remember, last year we had Jennie with us, who added stage blood to our faces and blackened up our teeth with make-up so we could look horribly damaged in those mid-ride photographs they sell at the exits. I recommend this game unreservedly.)

The past weeks also brought a night where a chap fainted twice on stage (during, for those in the know, THAT bit). Twice! I’m sure it all looked like part of the show, but it provided the sort of extra excitement that I live for.

Tonight is our first of three nights in Northampton. I believe it’s also home to a Torchwood convention this weekend. I wonder what sort of cross-over demographic will emerge. I’ll watch out for John Barrowman costumes or sudden bursts of ‘I Am What I Am’ in the stalls. (Do I have that right? I honestly don’t have a TV so I don’t really know what I’m talking about).

Righty-ho, carry on about your business. Pleased that the Rapture hasn’t affected show attendance, though I did find myself wondering at a couple of second-half empty seats in the front stalls last night.

The picture shows the rubbish collected from just ONE QUARTER of the stalls the other night. We’re such a filthy bunch.

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'Hero' Jack in Boxes up for auction



Matt Galley, star of ‘Hero at 30,000 ft’, is auctioning for charity the first two of the three jack-in-the-boxes left at his doorstep during the filming of the special.

Here’s what he says on his eBay page:

Hello my name is Matt Galley,

Last year i had the fantastic opportunity to be part of a Derren Brown special called Hero At 30,000…I was an ordinary guy looking for a break and a bit of a helping hand…

I found an advert to be part of Derren’s show and i knew that if i was going to break out of my habits then, as a life long Derren Fan, he would surely be able to help me.

For those of you who saw the show you will know that Derren left cool little Jack-In-The-Box’s on my door step to show my progress through the transition from zero to hero

I want to try and help someone in need like Derren did me, so as a result i would like to auction off two of the props so that i can raise some money for SAVE THE CHILDREN who help young children in Africa get clean water, mosquito nets and a education.

So if you are a Derren fan, and want to get your hands on a small piece of his history then please let’s raise as much as we can!!

Thanks to you all,

Matt

Click here to view the auction


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