day 2: a long day

At 8.20am yesterday there was a knock on my door. “Mornin’ champ – 15 minute call.”

It was Rik, reminding me that we had a 9am tech rehearsal at Just The Tonic, where the 80s Movie Flashback have a late slot – twenty past midnight – with the first show scheduled for that night. So an 8.20 start was going to make it a very long day.

The tech rehearsal was very useful; the Just The Tonic rooms are basically underground caves, and I was a bit concerned that the dripping of damp rivulets down the walls and onto the electric sockets was a minor health and safety hazard, but the techie man at JTT assured me that nobody had been electrocuted yet so it was probably okay.

After the tech rehearsal we felt pretty good about the Flashback show; and I spent the next few hours quite happily, mostly in the flat (where I made some mean-ass poached eggs), trying to write yesterday’s blog, and then out flyering for my showcase show.

Having had a huge audience turn out the previous night without doing any flyering at all, I wondered whether I even needed to bother flyering the showcase at all. Still, I had a very nice bill booked – Jay Foreman, Laura Carr, Simon Fielder and Ed O’Meara – and I was pretty sure they’d all go well for an audience of any size.

Still, I wanted to do this properly, so I flyered for a few hours. And about 40-something people showed up. Which is still, with two hours of flyering, a third less people than turned up the previous night. From which I can only conclude the effect my flyering is having to actively put people off coming to the show.

I have therefore resolved to flyer as little as possible for the rest of the run.

Still, 44 was a great audience and the acts were all smashing. I did more of my own material too, which didn’t exactly storm the place but was solid and I was happy with it.

And then I went down to Just The Tonic again for the first 80s Movie Flashback show. Before it, the cast were nervous. I didn’t think they needed to be; it’s a very strong show now, and I’d like to think that the little directorial contributions I’ve made recently have made it even stronger. I feel proud of it, certainly. And as the crowd came in to the cave to the sound of the overture from Back To The Future, they were buzzing and excited, and it felt like some kind of amazing event was about to happen…

…And then, somehow, it didn’t.

I don’t know if it was nerves, or tiredness, or the lateness of the show, or the fact that I ballsed up a sound cue early on, or the fact that there were a group of noisy people in the bar outside – but for some reason the energy of the show started to drop. But for a show like this – one which is so daft that it really needs pace and hyperactive energy to really work – a drop in energy meant that the whole thing started to feel like it was going on too long. By the time we got to the Dirty Dancing sketch people were leaving. The cast rallied for the final scene and the remaining audience loved that; but it felt like there was real work to do.

I have no real formal experience as a director; I co-directed Topical Scurvy quite well, I think, for what that’s worth. But I’ve kind of ended up doing ad-hoc directing for the Flashback. And the show is so strong in content, it really is – even at the draggiest points last night, the good gags were still getting laughs – that it deserves good direction.

So, after the show, we went to the Counting House for a post-mortem which went on until about 4am. I was a little bit worried, when I gave them the notes I’d made, that I was being harsh; after all, it’s their show that they’ve worked so hard on. Who am I to tell them a single performance lacks anything?

But I believe so much now that it can be an incredible show that I want them to know that they deserve better than last night’s show. They deserve no walkouts at all – they deserve for the show to have rapturous applause every single night of the run.

And I’m going to do everything I can to help that happen.

Showcase: Audience 44; Performance 5

Flashback: Needs some work, but will be rocking very soon…

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