21 May 2007


I cut myself shaving, careless, nicked the earlobe. I haven’t scratched an ear with a razor for – well, many years. Only ever done it once before I think. So I’m standing looking in the mirror at the crimson blob gathering itself, like a drop earring. Then it falls and hits the bowl of the sink. It looks impressively dark as it snakes its way toward the shaving water. Then there’s another, thick and cold on my skin. I lean over so the plashes hit the water, and watch as the blood twists and writhes, smoke-like. I watch this over and over, till the water is full crimson, and soon enough the coagulants have done their job and the bleeding’s stopped.

I’ll surely never write a bloodier play. And no, I haven’t developed a taste for it. The opposite, if anything. I find the violence thrilling but shocking. It’s necessary to the story, a wartime tragedy after all. It’s so well staged, it’s truly repellent. I’m only glad there is tenderness and mercy in the play, to counterweight it.

Watched with Serdar Friday night, we’d not been in together for a while so that was great. And funny as it may seem, I think it’s true nevertheless that I really felt the play, the whole of it, for the first time since I stopped work on it. There’ve always been bits that have got to me, even in rehearsals, but it’s been hard to disengage the technical, writing bit of the brain and just watch the thing. My ambition for The May Queen was always that I should dare to write a piece that would pay homage to the Greek masters while telling a story rooted in the place and culture I was born into. Such a buzz it's been to have the Everyman share that ambition and put their energies behind realising it.

I’m heading back up on Wednesday, for the final few days of the run and the madness that will be Liverpool in the grip of European Cup Final hysteria. I did wonder whether I’d be better off travelling on Thursday instead, until it was pointed out that if Liverpool FC win the Cup for the 6th time there’ll be even more mayhem around on the Thurs, due to the inevitable hundreds of thousands flocking into the city for the victory parade.

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