29 May 2007

Checking In

In a minute I'm headed to a meeting in town about a radio play Kepler's Mum's A Witch but I thought I'd stop by to say hello, still alive, still physically and emotionally wrung out and hung over after the closing performances of The May Queen and all that entailed. I was doing alright on the Saturday until I read what some blogger wrote about the play, pushed me over the edge (the sod) and I had a little unmanly moment, release of tension I suppose and I felt all the better for it and was able to watch the last performance sitting next to Mr Serdar Bilis the director and mostly not fret about how it was the last one but enjoy it, in the moment, listening to it and drinking in the sights and sounds of the production. For it's been said a million times but these are butterflies, fleeting things, the insubstantial pageant.

23 May 2007

Come On You Mighty Reds, An Honourable Defeat This Time?

Well I'm not in Liverpool for the Big Match, which is probably just as well really. Delayed travelling up till tomorrow, mostly because baby Buzz is under the weather, teething we think, the back ones coming, but he's rather going through it poor love, high temperature and all sorts of digestive issues, best not go into them. But the upshot is I'll be watching the game at home, possibly on tape cos I'm hoping to get to see Leyla Nazli's play at Arcola tonight, been itching to see it, had some very good notices and she's a great woman and a Miniaturist, as well as being Arcola's co-founder and exec producer.

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.

12 May 2007


Shattered. B and the boys were with me all week in the flat I've rented for the duration, which meant much family warmth around me at the right time but also little sleep. They went back yesterday and I was slightly overcome hearing how delighted and beside himself was Buzz (14 mths) to be back among his own stuff again, he padded around the place apparently incredulous and thrilled that everything was just how he left it. I may no doubt feel something like that myself when I pop back to London tomorrow for a couple of days. But I'm loving being here in Liverpool, and the play is very well thanks for asking, and press night was an absolute blast, I was proud of the work, and very proud of Serdar and the company. Above all pleasures was that of sitting watching it with B, her first look at it and though of course she knows the play rather well having been its first dramaturg she was seeing the production for the first time and her satisfaction in experiencing it as a dirty great big piece of theatre was, well, great for me to see.
Writer friends came too, Miniaturists all, and it was lovely to share a table and a dance with them at the party after, which was held in a super-cute cult-tv-themed bar in Hope Street called F.A.B.

You'll forgive me if I don't talk about reviews here. Not because of their content!, I do care about that of course, but here's not the place, hope you don't think that weird of me. Though I can't of course resist mentioning that the picture above (Mark Arends as Michael, Alisa Arnah as Liliane) was in the Times Online, above Jeremy Kingston's piece.

Family came last night, from Dad's side. Tonight there's a veritable invasion of people with whom I share genetic material, most notably my Mum. But don't worry she's been thoroughly briefed about the 'strong language, loud gun shots and scenes of a violent nature'. And me an altar boy, n'all...

10 May 2007

Press night last night. The production roared, and the people were there to hear it, that heady pressnight mix, the quarter there for professional reasons, the quarter there for love and loyalty, the theatregoers who bought tickets and were perhaps weirded out by the brew in the air, if not by the incense (Serdar's idea, nice one). Technically the show hit the sweet spot, as for the rest it's hardly for us to say, but I put the thing out there with the blessed help of Serdar, and Gemma, Suzanne, Deborah, Dan, Ian, Scott, Colin, Marie, Roxanne, Sarah, Helen, Alisa, Niall, Paul, Leanne, Mark, Michael, Cathy, Denis, Emma, Dave, Marc, Howard, and with the backup of quite a few others mind, so that it's underlineably true to say, I brought them a script five weeks ago and together we've made a play.

04 May 2007

Here comes the first preview then. This week, yes, much gnashing of pencils, scratching of heads, squinting of eyes trying to read the script by the light of an everchanging design, and splitting of ears as bombs land everywhere, when you least expect them. Characters floating about looking glorious or menacing or pitiful.
The play is doing its warm up, stretching and breathing, concentrating, remembering its cues, going through its rituals and routines. Second dress this afternoon, then people are coming in. The May Queen meets an audience - I knew it was going to happen but I never knew it would.