Why do British Rail have to let you down just when it matters? So far BADco’s travelling experience on the UK railway system has included an overcrowded train from Gatwick to London, a rail replacement bus service and – now – just when it mattered most the late, slow, train to Exeter from Bath is thirty minutes late. The company deal with it well, dancing on the platform in the cold to the tinny sounds of Alan (technical manager) mobile phone but underneath they are all really tired and just want to sleep.
The tour is up and running now. We had a slow – but effective – day at the University Theatre, Bath (Spa). Our technicians laid back style didn’t quite compliment the young crew who probably needed more direction. As a result long delays as we waited for projectors, remote controls, curtain rails and so on. But we were always going to be up on time so there was never any stress.
We had to order in company pizza as the University canteen shut down at 2- but the venue bought us beer and food for our journey which was much appreciated. When your tired little things like that make a real difference.
The performance was extra ordinary and so different from Chelsea. For a start the audience was small – about 30 ish which was disappointing and all young students. You could feel the tension in the air right from the very start as the students struggled to come to grip with the work and the aesthetic of BADco. All the humour the audience found in London was now replaced by a sense of danger and tension. Even in the ‘guided tour’ section the student audience didn’t know when to laugh at the blatent lies told by the company. So it was no real surprise that the audience found the ‘table section’ of Memories more menacing than intimate. On my table one student had to leave (feeling claustrophobic) another , at the end ‘was too scared to move’. And all this from Pravden’s table which at Chelsea had been the source of much hilarity.
For me too the performance was very different. On edge from the start as I sensed the audience’s un ease I saw a totally different performance. Instead of having an overview of the performance today I was in one corner – less easily distracted – and effectively chained to Pravden and Damir’s performances. Today the film commentary which I had so enjoyed at Chelsea was an irrelevance, something that happened far away at the other side of the room. Much more important was Damir’s scary, mad man. It had seemed a caricature, a strange intervention on Saturday but today it was weirdly hypnotic (I was in spitting distance of the performer) and visably scaring the living daylights out of the audience. At Chelsea I hadn’t even noticed an audience member being ‘removed’ today it took on an eery relevance as you could see her colleagues both excited and worried by her absence.
Several wonderful moments – Pravden to the table ‘do you know what I mean’, student 1 ‘ No’ – student 2 pipes up ‘no, but I do’. Just a shame that level of interaction didn’t carry on. Later as Damir’s mad man re appeared walking to the centre an audience number nudged another as if to say ‘o my god, look whats coming’. (It’s one of the brilliant moments in the show – you expect the character to explode at any moment – instead he just makes a stately walk across the stage [a walk that is both beautiful and menacing] – the image of a man who is the faded, beaten echo of a former self). And then after the show ended – and the curtain call had been taken – the level of noise in the room as the audience broke into loud conversation about the show. O and the head banging and the Croatian swearing (understood every word…honest) was quite good too!
Interesting taxi journey back to the station – where I had to explain to the cabbie what Memories was all about. No easy task but I reckon I made a fair attempt! So much so that the cabbie said ‘so its psycho analytical then’ – which amused the company for a moment!
So now we’re on the late train heading to Exeter for tomorrow’s performance at the Phoenix. Well perhaps heading is far too energetic a word…we are currently stationary for no reason. Days are beginning to go to plan (well except for good old BR). Sure there is a looming problems over Deleted Messages and another over the van. And yes I’ve been charged twice on my credit card for a hotel room and for a car hire booking (see above) that hertz could not deliver – and as a result my card keeps being declined when it shouldn’t be. Ok the budget is shot to bits (leaking in all kinds of strange places) but at least I’ve converted several of the company to the joys of real ale – for sergej real ale is ‘second only to Belgian ale’. And the work is really good – and isn’t that what matters?