So, I was just in a play. A kids play. Running through Easter half term in the U.K. It was an adaptation of a selection of stories from the fairytale back catalogue of the Brother’s Grimm: Hansel & Gretel, Rumplestiltskin, The Fisherman & his Wife, The Moon, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. A few we all know and a few we don’t.
That’s why there was no post last week. I was recovering from a triple show day + a get out (when you dismantle the set, clear the performance space, re-set the lights and vacate the theatre) + an after show party + an early start for a cast and crew breakfast date.
In short, I was knackered.
Family theatre is difficult to perform as children are absolutely savage. They are your harshest critics. They won’t politely clap, or sit quietly and slip out at the interval if they don’t like it. They start chatting, mucking about, expressing their boredom or disgust very loudly in a darkened, quiet room whilst you’re doing your best to entertain them.
However, I’m glad to report that every show they were hooked. I mean, at one point a kid dropped a Malteser and it echoed. Not a peep from the audience. The only time I remember there being a bit of chattering was when a small child was so engrossed they began repeating the lines and copying all the actions back to their Mum. It was like having the most magical show relay and I wasn’t mad about it one bit.
I loved my characters, it was an even split between us all. We all took the limelight and we all sat back and watched. We all narrated a story or two, we all used a puppet, we all had costume changes and we all got to play a villain and a good guy, the comedian and the straight man. We dabbled in shadow theatre, we broke the fourth wall and were rewarded by rounds of applause, laughter, sighs, gasps and big, beaming faces… even a few little ones waving back when we bid them farewell at the end. It makes it all worth while.
I have to say I miss the cast. It’s the smallest show I’ve ever been part of. Just four of us. Three girls, one boy. Jumping around on the astro, whizzing in and out of our tent, hanging fairy lights, playing vinyls, having (controlled) water fights and making each other laugh until our faces hurt. It genuinely was the closest I’ve come to a ‘show family.’ There was stress and tears in the run up, when the pressure began to mount, but in the end it was so wonderful I didn’t want the run to finish.
We managed it.
Four actors, Four crew & creatives, one technician, 60 minutes, over 30 characters, half a dozen different accents, 105 specially designed props and pieces of costume, 13 pieces of custom built set, eight pieces of which moved, six handmade puppets, nine shows and six stories.
It was deliciously Grimm and I loved every second.