Live Theatre, surely not?

Last Friday, at The Grove Theatre in Eastbourne, we did our first live show in months.

To an audience of 40, plus staff and crew, Tim Marriott performed Shellshock. Short notes, Tim was brilliant, the audience loved it and venue were delighted. Hooray, joy all round.

Apparently, there are still people who want to see live theatre. They want that feeling of rapture and joy that comes from watching a live performance.

It’s funny, the things you don’t know that you miss. For me, it was the chatter. The sound of human voices, talking, laughing and commenting on the show. There was a real connection between the audience. I might record the sounds, just to lull me to sleep on winter’s night.

Anyway, this week we are doing the first, off book, performance of Waiting For Hamlet. (There are some excellent reviews of the audio version on Fringe Review).

This means Tim Marriott, Nicholas Collett, David Visick and myself have been rehearsing and refining. We’ve discussed the script, sworn over forgotten lines and missed cues, it’s been analysed, filmed and turned inside out. In between, there have been repeated apologies for lateness, pots of tea and very many thank you’s for ‘your useful notes’. All in all, it’s been intense fun.

It’s in the timing of the leap

But given that Waiting For Hamlet should have just completed a critically acclaimed, sell-out Edinburgh run, it still feels like a wasted year. We should have been experiencing this thrill in March.

Even with all the disappointments, and the uncertainty over future bookings, that sense of anticipation; the quickening heart, the shallow, rapid breathing and nervous tension, there is still a thrill in the air. This is the best time, faced with the unanswered question; Will the audience like it? We can’t know, we can only hope. Now, even in a COVID riddled world, the potential, the opportunity and the sense that anything is possible, brings life to our endeavours.

To paraphrase Pangloss, everything that happens, does so for the best of reasons. If it did not, life would not have bought us to this point, here, now and with a sure-fire hit ready to go.

Friday, at 7.30 pm, to a socially distanced audience of 50, we will find out what we have created. Let’s hope it was worth it!