Hey guys, Henry writing here. We left you off on Friday, looking forward to the big night ahead of us celebrating Gab’s birthday. And what a night it was…
The day was spent in sunshine. As well as our usual flyering duties, we all found time to bathe in the sun in the Royal Pavilion Gardens (this is becoming our “regular” hang-out spot during the day). By the end of the afternoon, we were all there. Happy and content, we headed for the New Steine Gardens to warm up.
After a successful straight run of the show, we packed up the set as quickly as possible to let the celebrations begin with no second spared. (Seriously guys, we’re getting pretty good at assembling/dissembling the set promptly. Whatever you think of the show, give us credit for that.) Whilst some of the cast quickly went home to get changed and drop off bags (thanks guys), Oli, Emily, the birthday boy Gabriele and myself headed to Morrisons, made some economic choices concerning drink, and then headed straight for the beach. (Two bottles of Prosecco for £13, three bottles for £12. You do the maths.)
We sat on the beach and eventually the others joined us. We gave Gab his card (he didn’t even notice us writing it hastily on the beach…) and shared in some cake. As the evening sky lazily transcended from a rainbow display of colours to a starry night sky without us even noticing, we lay on the pebbled beach, the lights of the pier flashing, our drinks bubbling, with the distant view of the ISS falling gracefully down the night sky. We were all laughing, and the general mood was simple contentment.
The first bar we went to had a smell of vomit.
I’m sorry to throw in that sudden sensory distraction, but it was quite a distraction for us, and a sudden one at that. Dan and Sarah had left at this point to celebrate their six month anniversary. Whilst we are indeed an eclectic bunch of people, I think we can be unified in our shared belief that any good night out should at the very least not include the pervasive odour of stomach bile. (Well, not before the early hours, at least.) We used the bathroom facilities, shared a silent nod of agreement, and we were out the door, leaving Bar Revenge (and its accompanying odours) in the past and in our memories.
Next was Club Revenge. This we had to pay to get into, and we’ve since made it a general rule never to pay for entry on cast/crew nights out. Looking back, there were two indicators of the extent of our mutual drunkenness. One was our willingness to pay a lot for drinks once inside. The second was our dancing. Whilst not a big clubber myself, I was certainly “getting jiggy with it”. (Seriously guys, I was moving my limbs. That’s a big deal.)
In fact, we all were. We were all dancing and celebrating a friend’s birthday. We must have spent some time in there, since when we left it was well past half one. But it was still the birthday boy’s night…
Now, for those unfamiliar with the Brighton night scene, I must emphasise in the strongest words possible our excitement at entering the next venue. For days, en route to and fro the performance space, we had passed a drag club with a pink exterior which, despite the sun being up, always seemed to have a drag karaoke on. We thus made it our ambition, nay, our obligation, to go to Priscilla’s. When the time was right…
Half past one on Saturday morning was that time. We arrived during final orders, and Zoe and Gab treated us to a gloriously predictable rendition of “It’s Raining Men”. If you didn’t like that song before…
Priscilla’s closed, and we returned to the streets. We may have been a little too intoxicated at this point, for we were denied entry into Funky Fish. And so we went home, all giggly, a little staggery, myself battling hiccups and a near-to-capacity bladder, everybody happy.
The same can’t be said for the next morning.
Despite us all being in our prime, we were all somewhat, shall we say, under the weather come Saturday morning. (I was looking forward to a long lie-in to recover, only to see my world come crashing down when Gab shook me awake and uttered the ominous words “Oli says you’re on the first shift.”)
And so we went about the business of the day. The weather was not perfect, but thankfully it did not rain. (I had only one job apart from flyering, and that was to give Dan and Sarah their flyers by half three. Once I was finished with my shift, I went inside to the library, got five pages through Arcadia, and in a tandem assault from a hangover and Tom Stoppard’s sentence structure, fell asleep. I missed my half three deadline… I blame Stoppard.)
The wonderful Alison Thomas visited for the day which lifted all of our spirits. She, Oli and Em had a picnic at our regular hang out at the Pavilion, and were later joined by a few members of the cast. We then all walked to New Steine Gardens, and Alison helped some of the actors with the physical transitions between scenes. We all know Alison from her incomparable help with the dance sequences of BoxedIn’s last show, Romeo & Juliet, and she did not let us down now. She and a few others watched the queer run, and the sun even managed to come out for the show.
We retired home. We all made dinner, debated what to watch on television, before finally compromising on an episode of Black Mirror. We all went to bed feeling unnerved and a little frightened. Those familiar with Black Mirror will know all-too-well the feeling.
Sunday, predictably, arrived. We went about our usual flyering duties and a few of us may have taken a bit of interest in the boys from Macho Macho, advertising (stripping) oh so wonderfully on the same street. Not naming names, but…
Georgia made us all jealous once we met up in the gardens, having spent the day on a private tour with a historian around the Royal Pavilion. She indulged us with the facts, but only she got the real thing.
We dutifully went to New Steine Gardens. One of the problems of performing outdoors in a public space, we’ve all come to learn, is external distractions. These can, have and will come at any time, either during warm ups or the show itself, and include people shouting, dogs barking (Dolly…), and traffic. During our warm up, we had a rowdy spectator, but the entire cast stayed cool, kept composure and were constant professionals.
And that’s what made that show so great. To a healthy (and generous) audience size, we performed what was later mutually agreed to be our best straight run yet. Lines were perfect, laughs were had, and the amazingly adorable dog in the audience remained both adorable and quiet. We packed up, and left the park very happy.
That night we all contributed towards a vegan dinner. (Did we mention Annabel is vegan?) A warm cottage-esque pie was made by all of us (although particular credit goes to Oli, director of both the stage and the kitchen) and we all danced and sung whilst we cooked and cleaned like young people without cares or problems.
We dined together, drank good wine (I thought a can of Stella might ruin the ambience) and toasted to a wonderful performance, a great night ahead, and a wonderful summer spent with friends with nothing but love and care for each other.
That evening we all had tickets to see For the Birds, an outdoor immersive show at a secret location starting at around midnight. Our slot late on Sunday would be their last. None of us had any idea what to expect, such only adding to the excitement. We got a bus, walked, and then waited at another bus stop for the Birds-specific bus to pick us up and take us to the secret location in the woods out of the city…
Only, once we were on the bus, rather than talking amongst ourselves (or, indeed, looking down to our phone screens) we all found ourselves staring out of the window. Flashes of light were routinely striking the midnight sky. “Part of the show?” “Can’t be. That’s definitely lightning.” “Maybe it is the show.” “Look, that was fork lightning! Definitely nature…”
We got off the bus and walked through the guided path. It was dark and a light rain was bouncing off our heads, but such only added to the immersive experience. It may sound pretentious, but we were all genuinely happy for the weather.
What we saw of For the Birds was marvellous, a beautifully lit up forest, reminiscent of Tolkien and Carroll, with ominous sounds of voices and instruments scoring the scene. However, the real star of this show was the natural environment. Every minute or so the sky would erupt in a flash of lightning, and crashing thunder pervading the forest. These wonderful lights, both real and artificial, added to an ambience that we all felt privileged to be apart of.
However, as one might expect, being in a forest wired with electrics during an electrical storm in the rain offered a health and safety nightmare, and so we were all escorted out of the wooded area, the sky still routinely flashing like a Biblical scene.
We were all naturally disappointed not to see the rest of the display, but all felt genuinely privileged to be in that time in space, watching the grandest of storms in a fairytale forest. Cue our annoying thespian mentality, but waiting for the bus in the pouring rain, we decided to do one of our warm up exercises. And so we found ourselves at one in the morning, in the pouring rain, under a tempestuous sky, with our eyes closed and hands held “tuning in”, to our mutual smug delight and no doubt annoyance to the other rainy miserable walkers.
Deciding that waiting for the Birds official bus would be too long, we walked to a bus stop. Despite it now genuinely pouring down like a scene from the Old Testament, our spirits were high. We sang as we walked through field and street, singing such movie classics as ‘Stand By Me’ (although, if I remember, those kids got to walk in sunshine…). Such was the extent of our good moods and the brilliant resilience of this group of people, not even a cancelled show and pouring rain dampened our spirits. We were all smiling, all laughing, and then a kindly stranger appearing like magic from the shadows offered to take our picture…
We found a bus stop, eventually finding Ubers to take us home after unsuccessfully contacting several Taxi firms. Our drivers were two of the kindest people we’ve accounted, and reaffirmed our faith in people acting a little kinder than usual in circumstances that require it.
We got home. We shed and hung over soaking clothes, changed into pyjamas and drank tea and hot chocolate whilst watching television, the thunderous sound of the storm raging outside. Our hair was soaking, we were cold, tired, fatigued; we did not get to see the full show, but we were happy. Such is the character of this group of wonderful people.
And then we remembered the washing we had left outside to dry.