Tuesday, 18 August 2015

'Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington!'*

I sometimes get asked whether it is difficult to watch number 1 daughter when she is in an acting role. Given that her acting career has had and continues to have some moments that are not in the conventional mother-and-daughter spectrum of activity I guess that's a reasonable question.

The answer is normally, whether it is television or short film or stage, that there are a few moments at the beginning when I can only see her as my daughter and the thoughts that flash through my brain generally relate to having everything crossed that she will be wonderful, not forget her lines etc, etc - not that she ever has!  And then I become so absorbed in the drama that I almost (but never completely) forget that she is mine. Until the latest production...

When my beloved and I stepped into the theatre at the Pleasance Dome in Edinburgh last Thursday, as part of a packed house, she and Phil (Arthur really, who plays her husband) were already in bed - vertically at the back of the stage. It's a very clever piece of staging and although they hop in and out of bed during the 80-minute two-hander, there is no sense of adjusting mentally from the virtual vertical to the horizontal. So because essentially the action was waiting for the audience merely to sit down and the lights to dim, there was no time to go through the usual mother/daughter collective of thoughts. She just was Alice from start to finish.

The play is shocking, stunning and probably the most beautifully written piece she has ever done and because I am shameless (see later on...)  I absolutely agree with all the 4 and 5* reviews the play has had in the national press. It is a tour de force.

So last week for me was Edinburgh Fringe week with number 1, wedding dress shopping - also with number 1- and flat-moving with number 4, also in Edinburgh. A tight schedule of activity in which my beloved joined on the second afternoon. Some forward planning had occurred because there is just so, so much to see at the Fringe so I had booked a couple of things a few weeks ago - a Noel Coward review which was lovely but too much Ivor Novello and not enough Noel Coward for me - and a speed-dating 90s music musical which was very funny and involved modest audience participation. Those of us who have been to the theatre before with number 1 know that she needs to be at the front to hear and lipread so she brazenly walked to the front of the queue (there are no reserve seats) and explained and there we were to all intents and purposes sitting on the front of the stage with four Spice Girl-alikes singing and dancing just inches away.

We had also managed to pack in two wedding dress shops where number 1 demonstrated why she is so classically different from the other bride in the family. Number 2, whose dress is now having final alterations, stood like a bride at the altar for every one of her try-ons. Like a beautiful statue. Number 1 decided that each dress needed to be tried out for dancing so, as a consequence I not only have pictures but video too! No choices made yet but we have an idea what suits at least!

The next morning, having slept at number 4's very nice new flat and met her really lovely flatmates, she went off to do her shift in a care home where she works to supplement her student funds and I went to meet number 1 for a spot of flyering - or as I renamed it, shameless flyering. Every show in town is being promoted by bright young things thrusting leaflets in your hand about their productions. "Would you like a flyer?" is sometimes met with a weary "No". Number 1 is doing the polite thing and asking nicely whereas I am going into full-on embarrassing mother mode. It goes like this... "Can I tell you about this play? It got 4*s in The Times yesterday. It's by Jack Thorne..." (mention Harry Potter, Shameless, This is England, etc). "My daughter is in it and she's brilliant!" Cue number 1 slinking away. Having already got The Solid Life of Sugar Water mentioned on Chris Evans' Radio 2 show the day before, I am on a roll. Isn't it wonderful to be somewhere away from home where you can behave really embarrassingly and no one knows you!

Surprisingly (!) number 1 abandoned me and I went off to see Spectretown which was a fabulously well acted but not very well constructed play. Perhaps not a great choice, particularly as it barely gave me time to get back across town by taxi to meet my beloved outside number 4's flat where he had Bertha, the Land Rover, full of her stuff. And then I left my phone in the taxi... I can now never tell my children off for leaving mobiles in places where they shouldn't but the taxi driver very kindly brought it back to me. Thank you.

Which brings us to our visit as very proud parents to The Solid Life of Sugar Water which surpassed all our expectations by some considerable distance, after which some family-style celebrating was called for - need I say more?

So our final act before returning home was to move number 4's 'few bits' from her halls of residence into her new flat. Her 'few bits' turned out to be so much stuff that there was only room for my beloved in Bertha and she and I had to walk from her halls to the new flat before humping the stuff up two flights of Edinburgh-style stairs.

So we're back home now for a week's staycation and the only news at this end is the arrival of two new pets. Well, not ours actually but we have officially been adopted by two peacocks who are now named Richard and Henry which goes to prove that if you hang around here long enough you will either get a nickname or have something named after you!

*One of my favourite Noel Coward songs which was featured in the review and, under the circumstances, remarkably apropos! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7ay6E345e0

 Barr girls and wine... like that never happens! 
Richard is on the left with his head in the Russian vine and Henry on the right.