Yes No Maybe – Part 2 – the shows

etcetera theatre buzzWe are moving swiftly towards Edinburgh Festival, the Camden Fringe now entering its 10th year under Zena and Michelle, and an amazing smorgesboard of good, great, and not quite to my taste shows.

Please excuse this blog, a follow on from my more first Yes No Maybe explorations in Sheffield. This one is written in stages, as a day progressed…a bit like real life:

Saturday Morning:

Today feels like a foretaste of things to come. A planned trip to a new musical at the Arcola, cross town to the Etcetera, an unplanned visit to a piece which, as I write this, I don’t even know its name, and then staying on to see a show I promised to see if I was around created by one of the students I have been teaching at Mountview. They all sit in the Maybe camp before I visit them – and by the end I may be writing Yes Yes Yes….or not.

Early Evening:

I am now at the Etcetera following my visit to The House of Mirrors and Hearts. This is a new musical theatre drama by Eamonn O’Dwyer and Rob Gilbert. For me it is a Yes Yes Yes. This is a ghostly, traumatic, family saga with a fractured family with reflections on life in all its shards. Musically every note feels necessary and Eamonn balances offering us some beautiful melodies, and yet delivered to powerful dramatic effect. This had to be a musical because we are following 5 protagonists with interlinking inner monologue and fractured dialogue. Rob Gilbert has shaped a play which is satisfying in itself, then made so much richer by the poetry and the tight song speech patterns which they create. And that’s before I talk about the central performance of Gillian Kirkpatrick as the mother. I don’t know how anyone gets nominated for UK and London awards for best performance, but she deserves to be in the running for many of them.

Now I’m not a critic and that’s not the role of this blog. I will stop my rambling thoughts, cheer Katy Lipson, Perfect Pitch, and the Arcola for making this production happen

Last month i spent time delivering a brochure about this show into the hands of 70+ South East Asian producers and directors, and I hope that this is pitched to NYMF and NAMT in New York because it is perfect US audience material – in the right small house, with the right first class dramatic actors. It is a location-less, timeless, universal piece.

So that particular “maybe” to a new musical delivered a decided Yes from me. Do try and catch it.

And now…I grab a pint of cider and head into the Etcetera Theatre for an unknown show. Why am I going. Exactly the same reason I hold slots clear when I go to Edinburgh – so that I see some theatre which is only chosen because it is on “next” in a venue less that 50yds from where I am now, at a price I can afford, and it feels “maybe” enough to get me to part with my money.

Later that same evening:

So I’ve just come out of a show by The Awkward Silence which is a trio of Oxford based sketch play comedy players with a piece which reminds me of very early John Finemore and Three’s Company. Full house of friends and family, but no programme, no website, and no information about them. I grabbed one of them in the bar – no card, no real info.   Anyone who has read my blogs over the years you will know this is a big bug bear.   So three guys pay all the money to make a show (I gather they have worked together for 2-4 years) and they don’t have any way that a random member of the audience can find out more. I could have been a useful talent scout.

I enjoyed the comedy play. It had fun twists and turns and some great one-liners. I hope they work on it with a director to tighten everything up, and ensure that there is a continuous stream of “suddenlies”.  If they do get in touch with me, then I sill try and see their next show at Edinburgh in 2016.

PS I have now googled them at home as I edit this blog.

And Finally.

With a large pint of cider in my hand I waited for the 9.30pm premier of Simon David’s new cabaret set, with a four piece band, and songs he has penned under the banner “Simon David Virgin” about his unconsummated love life. Why was I there – he’s a 2nd year actor musician student at Mountview to whom I have given some career classes, and he asked me. The buzz around the bar was amazing. He had a complete sell-out on his hands with friends travelling down from Newcastle, colleagues from Mountview, and a few people who had just chosen to see the show out of curiosity including one couple of lecturers from the University of Virginia.

Simon David’s energy levels are phenomenal. He seems to channel Freddie Mercury (strut), David Bowie (electricity), Music Hall sing-along and Amy Winehouse (voice).   His songs are deeply heartfelt, at times very funny and very poignant, and some of his stories are glorious.   He had every member of the audience singing along to his original songs, and he built a sense of joy through us all which carried us all to our feet cheering at the end. It was raw, he needs to polish his presentation style, and probably conserve his energy – but he has real onstage charisma and I can see him with many fans if he chooses to continue to play a version of this show around the club & theatres of London and onward to Edinburgh.

I am so pleased to have seen his show, and now look forward to seeing his versatility in his 3rd year roles in Mountview. We are all excited to see this first cohort of 10 actor musicians graduating, and then seeing the larger cohort coming through next year.

Four shows in two days – Slung Low in Sheffield, Hearts and Mirrors at Arcola, an Awkward Silence (unknown company) and then Simon David’s Virgin both at Camden Etcetera. Great mixed bag – feels like Edinburgh and Camden Fringe arrived early.

Dear companies – please have websites, business cards, programmes – make it easy for me and others to cheer you and find out about your work.   Otherwise we forget you in the array of other shows to be seen.

So – 3 Yes’s and 1 Maybe – not bad for a random weekend of 4 shows all unknown to me.

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