Remember where we left off on Wednesday? It was a gloriously sunny day and we had our largest turnout yet. Thirty-five! On a Wednesday!
Thursday: a little closer to the weekend, but it was just as sunny. Even better, if anything. Not a cloud in the sky. A perfect day. The show was obviously creating some sort of buzz. A sell-out show? Not beyond possibility. The people from the night before coming back to see the roles reversed? The rest of Brighton high society trying to look casual as they stampede to New Steine Gardens, wanting to be seen seeing what was obviously the hottest new show in town.
Thursday Audience Count:
I guess not all of Brighton got the message.
He dutifully stayed for the entire show and gave us a very generous donation and a smile before leaving. However it must be said that, especially considering the large turnout the night previous, that we weren’t in the best of spirits.
Nevertheless we went down to the beach and played some games, talked, laughed. Oli later joined us and as we all got a little drunker our collective spirits rose.
Our first stop was the Ye Olde King and Queen. We had passed it every day on the bus, its mock-Tudor style a striking contrast to the takeaways and grocery shops that share its street. Once inside, we were quite impressed. Boasting to be Brighton’s largest public house, its interior was that of a pub, only much larger, grander in certain features (round tables of such a size to put one in mind of Camelot), and filled with mostly students. It was a rowdy and loud place, but we filled a circular table, and, feeling a bit like lowly peasants at the king’s court, drank ourselves silly.
Not sure where to head next, Oli took charge. Club Coalition. We hadn’t heard of it. “Guys, we’re on the guest list.” Won’t it be busy by now? It’s past midnight. “Guys, don’t worry. I emailed. They put us on the guest list.” But- “Guys, it’s Oli Savage plus eight. Trust me.”
We walked to the seafront. Oli led the way and strutted to the bouncer. (Did anyone else notice the lack of a queue?)
“Hi, I’m Oli Savage and I’m on the guest list.”
“No guest list tonight, mate.”
“But I sent an email and everything.”
This was not a problem in itself, other than for Oli’s now-crushed ego, as the club was largely empty. Again, not a problem. The strange underground club at the seafront is based in an abandoned viaduct, with archways and tunnels that gave the place an eery quality. (Only enhanced by the lack of people.)
But perfect for us. As Oli says, “I need dance room”. We all had a dance, moved our limbs (even me) and had a weird old time.
By the time we all staggered home, I was left wondering whether it was possible to enjoy a night out in Brighton that couldn’t be characterised as “weird”, “different” or, to use our favourite, “rogue”.
Another hangover day. To be expected, I suppose. It’s always a little harder, I find, to flyer enthusiastically about queer outdoor theatre when your head and body feel like a heavily-trafficked dance floor (pounding, sticky and, objectively, a bit unpleasant).
We performed our penultimate queer run of the show. It was windy. Oh so windy. Oh so windy that some of the pegs holding down the tents came out of the ground, and we had to place the unused chairs facedown on the ground once it became apparent that, if we didn’t, the wind would do so for us, only in a less orderly fashion. Still, it was this weather (granted, on a Friday) that prompted citizens of Brighton to come see us, and not the cloudless climes of the day before.
Back at the house, we watched National Treasure. For those who haven’t seen it (which, before Friday, included several of our cast and crew, myself being one of them) if you’re in need of a film that unifies a group with its marvellous cliches, disgustingly brilliant remarks and just Nicholas Cage, then you wouldn’t go wrong with National Treasure. We all laughed ourselves silly as pretentious arts/history students, whilst all not too secretly loving it. We need to find a National Treasure Drinking Game.
(Fun Fact, according to IMDb the original rough cut of the film was four hours long. I’d be on the floor by the end of the first act.)
Our last ever straight run in Brighton. A bittersweet feeling, only to be amplified the next day.
Back at the house that evening several of the gang FaceTimed our good friend Molly from the USA, and shared in some transatlantic thespian laughs. I made my famous spinach and pesto quinoa and totally did not stress over it. Not even once. Honestly.
Late at night we were all still up when the news from London reached us. We all made the appropriate calls and watched the coverage on television, saddened that this was not the first time since arriving in Brighton that such news had reached us.
A hard flyering drive in the hope of getting rid of all of our flyers before our final ever Brighton show that evening. Made all the more difficult in the heat, the extra-large piles of flyers took longer to get rid of to a citizenry who clearly, after a fortnight of daily campaigning, were a bit sick of us.
Once I was finished, I took a long walk on the seafront into Hove, listening to Dylan, smelling chips and the sea air, watching smiling faces of people at the seaside.
Our last ever show in the Brighton garden. There was a large audience, if quite a few walkouts. It had turned quite windy by the evening. We thanked the audience, packed away and went home, privileged for the opportunity to perform in such a characteristic (and loud…) space, overlooking the sky and sea and, on a clear day, France.
Georgia left us an evening early, so we all had a group hug and said goodbye to her.
At home, we all made a collective dinner. Tacos, fajitas and mojitos. Zoe made a vegan filling, I a veggie, and Em a meat. We sat at the table, ate quite possibly the most amazingly hearty meal I’ve ever had, and discussed our favourite moments of the tour so far, our sadness to leave that great house, and our excitement for what was to come.
We played a few rounds of Vampires (did Oli get too invested? I couldn’t possibly say…) before bed. We had an early start in the morning…
Ouch. Getting up at early in the morning when used to rolling out of bed close to midday, after mojitos and Vampires until the early hours, was not pleasant. But we knew this the night before.
It was a dull but frantic morning. We got on the bus and, seeing the performance space one last brief time, transported the seats back to their home in storage next to the pier.
Back to the house to clean, tidy, pack, check- you know the feeling. In groups, we left the house sporadically depending on train times. Oli, Gab, Em and I were the last to leave. Between us, including personal and show-related, we were carrying eighteen bags. We were definitely the most popular people on the two buses we had to get as we blundered our way to the station.
(On one of the buses there was a child crying very loudly about nothing in particular. I said he was like Oli. His father then calmed him down and he stopped crying. Oli said the father was like Sarah.)
Using Oli’s failsafe method that carrying five bags is the optimal number (four too few, six too many; you all know how numbers work) we finally shifted our flustered selves to the train station. The three boys took the train to London Victoria, saying goodbye to Emily, Brighton and a wonderful two weeks. Brighton, you were great.
Now, I’m not a city person myself in my upbringing. Certainly not a London-person. But I think that carrying five bags each through busy London train and tube stations is a stressful job for anyone. For me, not knowing my way around and with an irrational fear of inconveniencing strangers, this was especially hard.
Annabel waited for us at Victoria, and the four of us managed to fight through train and tube and eventually made it to Oli’s station. I hadn’t realised that we were near Elstree Studios, particularly interesting as I had been reading Carrie Fisher’s book The Princess Diarist on the train, which naturally mentions the area. His mother very kindly drove us to the house and we settled into our new ‘digs’.
The four of us headed back to the station. I now know why Oli loves the Fast and Furious franchise so much. They taught him how to drive.
Feeling a little dizzy, we got onto the train and headed back into the city.
We headed to see our performance space. JuJu’s Bar & Stage is in an extremely trendy area of London. Every corner of the street someone seemed to be doing something that could be described as trendy. And everyone seemed to have piercings.
It’s unlike the North…
JuJu’s was charming and stylish, and the garden in which we’ll be performing was a compact but elegant space in the midst of all this urban activity. It will certainly be a different environment to the rolling garden of Brighton. After a short meeting, we said goodbye to the space before moving on.
Oli took us to “the best sandwich shop in the world” before going under cover (it had started to rain) to find a fashion show by the London College of Fashion. It was a strange but interesting affair; not a kind of art I know much about, but people seemed to be getting excited by what was being displayed, some conservative outfits, others costumes from science fiction. London is not like Blackburn.
Next was the much-publicised “best bar in London” (quote Oli, again). And whilst it is thus far the only bar in London I’ve been to, I feel he may be right. Vagabonds is a wine bar where one receives a card, puts money on it, and then is free to sample the wines on display around the walls. It was a stylish and ‘classy’ affair, and Gab, Ann and I were all very glad Oli took us. Caitlin Morris, who played Romeo in BoxedIn’s Romeo & Juliet, came to join us briefly. We all talked and caught each other up on what we’d been doing, before heading back to the tube, picking up some wine on the way and with some people, not naming names Annabel and Gabriele don’t worry, managing to leave the security tag on the bottle.
Some people just can’t handle the big city.