It's all pretty much a blur, but it went off like a bunger (Australian for a firecracker of some sort, I believe - hello OG). We sold all the seats, the performances went without a hitch, no small thanks to unflappable stage management from Tash and Jenny, and the silky skills of my estimable producer Flavia Fraser-Cannon. Besides which organisational miracle there was actually rather a lot of art on display, judiciously lit by Mr Richard Howell. So congratulations and thanks to the writers (and directors): Moira Buffini and Daniel Brennan; Elizabeth Kuti and, er, herself; Judith Johnson and John Burgess; Penny Black and Ellen Hughes.
My own piece Porno Girl was beautifully realised by Lucy Skilbeck. The fact that I'd scripted in a rather complicated sound design, not to mention a heap of personal props, fazed her not at all - she trumped me instead by adding in an uncalled-for pushchair and a bead curtain. This last stood for the entrance to the back of a Manhattan sleaze parlour, and was just so. Thanks very much to the actors Zehra Naqvi (Charlotte), Oliver Senton (Richard) and Tunde Makinde (Rodman) for helping me bring Merin Wexler's story to the stage.
Moira Buffini's play The Games Room was on at Soho a few years ago, but she herself was indisposed for the duration of that short run, so Sunday night was the first time she'd seen the piece performed, under Daniel Brennan's smart direction. Wendy Albiston and Ben de Halpert were Barbara and Tom, locked in marital combat, to the death. They were terrific, exchanging barbs and taunts and verbal punches, finally falling in love again during a game of Russian roulette.
The last time I worked with Elizabeth Kuti, sixteen years ago if you please, she was in two plays at Edinburgh (Equus, and Brimstone and Treacle), and I was one of the stage managers. This time round, she was directing her own work, while I was overseeing things in a different and slightly less hapless way (not too difficult to outdo my younger self). Time Spent On Trains is a deeply affecting piece, about love and communication, about the terrors of childhood, the mystery of time. The performances from Lindsey Bourne and Robert Price gave full expression to the writing, which is freighted with pain and tenderness. It's a very fine play.
Judith Johnson's Believe Me is a brilliant tale of the unexpected, and it was given beautifully detailed direction by John Burgess. It couldn't be simpler in its set-up, two women sitting in armchairs getting sloshed and talking about family and friendship. But the twist, which I can't give here, is horribly good, and gave me goosebumps even when I saw it in the technical rehearsal. Paula Hamilton played the vicar's wife tormented by something she's seen, and Nicola Sanderson her friend, who loves her but doesn't believe her.
The kicker, quite literally, was Penny Black's See No Evil, a short sharp piece featuring Arabian Queen (Sibylla Meienberg), Beauty Queen (Bettrys Jones) and Football Queen (Anna Scutt). Startling to see FQ careering around the space in her wheelchair, chanting One Nil, In The Bernabeu!, to the tune of the Pet Shop Boys' Go West. One of our senior number was moved to say of See No Evil: 'I've not seen such exciting experimental theatre since the seventies.' Nuff said, I think, and job done, till next time.