Friday, 12 September 2014

Three shows down in Croydon

The bed I'm currently relaxing on is comfortable and functional if not exactly luxurious. I'm on the tenth floor of Croydon Travelodge and through the window I can see the hubbub of this busy London enclave. Buses hurtle down the dual carriageway, trams make a pleasant ding dinging noise and trains pull angrily into East Croydon Station. People move about constantly on their way to who knows where (work probably) for who knows what (to earn money.) Talking of this window, a friend text me the other day to ask if we were partaking in the usual groupies and throwing TVs out of the window. The window is arranged such that it's impossible to open more than a hands width, presumably to prevent guests jumping out when they see how much the wifi costs or how limited the tea and coffee making facilities are. This means that I couldn't throw the TV out of the window even if I wanted to, which I don't because I know I wouldn't get a replacement and I like TV. As for groupies, I've been told they arrive tonight but I won't hold my breath.

The girl's room is a little further down the corridor and annoyingly has some superior facilities such as a bath and a tub of hand sanitiser. We have a shower and have provided our own toiletries. Their room is also quite a bit bigger, however it doesn't have me or Richard so all things considered they clearly come off less well. 

The Spreadeagle is a pub ten minutes walk away from our hotel. It strikes me as pretty much a miniature Old Joint Stock with the same furnishings and so on. The theatre is a converted function room up one flight of stairs from the bar, making it feel more a part of the pub than is the case at the OJS. When we arrived on the first day we were thrilled to see posters for the show all over the place and the bar staff  all wearing t shirts with the performance dates and various quotes from the play printed on them. They have also been very active on twitter etc so it feels like everyone is doing their best to plug the show. We have been very well looked after by the team at the Spreadeagle and feel very comfortable there. 

On that first day we did a run through to get used to the new space and lighting then prepared for opening night. Capacity in the room as it is set up at the moment is about 30 and on the first night we were about half full. Not bad for a Tuesday night. Wednesday was much busier and all round a really exciting and fun show, perhaps we were bouyed by a very nice review of the first night on the Croydon Citizen website. 

Before the show on Wednesday Nadi and Richard both had appointments in London so Georgia and I examined the sights of Croydon. These consisted of a Pizza Express (orange Wednesday) and some very interesting shops. After dinner nipple, anyone? 

We are joined for this run by Alex the tech guy who did the show last year as well as the first week back in Birmingham this time around. He knows the show as well as we do and having him with us means we don't have to worry at all about sound and lighting cues, which is a big help as worrying about things you can't do anything about is never a very useful thing to do. 

Director Robert Ball was also with us for the first two nights, and after Wednesday's performance had a chat with us about the run in Stratford next week. He caught the train home on Thursday morning and met us for a Cafe Neros to celebrate Georgia's 36th birthday. Further birthday treats included a visit to the rather charming Museum of Croydon, an observation of that rarest of beasts a HMV store and a meal at Waga Mamas. 

The audience that night was slightly smaller again but very nice and obliged us by singing happy birthday to George at the end of the show. We had a bit of a sing song in the theatre afterwards then discounted two Croydon night spots and plumped for a game of cards back at the hotel. I seem to be operating at a different end of the day to my cast mates, as demonstrated by the fact I'm in bed writing this blog while Nads and Georgia are in London and Richard is line learning for his next show. After performances they want to go to bed while I want to be silly and make lots of noise. Oh well, there's a few hours before the show when we are all on the same page. Crucially, of course, we are at our most concentrated and awake between 7.30pm and 10pm (ahem)

The audiences we are attracting seem to consist of small groups of late twenty somethings following the recommendation of a knowledgeable  friend and then slightly older couples. I've had some interesting chats with people after the show on subjects as diverse as Morecambe and Wise, Edinburgh and the morals of eating abandoned bar food. A couple of people have mentioned that they saw me with Foghorn when they visited a few months ago, which is very nice.  

I should say I've now moved on from writing in bed and am sitting in a lovely little Italian cafe where everyone is pretty and friendly. The cappuccino was good and the wifi is free so no chance of me flinging myself out of the sizeable windows. From a muted TV News 24 waxes lyrical about the what ifs of Scottish independence (wait a week and you'll find out guys.) It's a remarkably sunny day and I'm tempted to have a further exploration of Croydon, but I think it's more likely that I will seek out something to eat. I've got 3 and half hours until show time... 

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