And so another show comes to an end, and we are once again in that awful space of nothingness that follows.
The post-show blues is indeed a truth universally acknowledged (well, in the acting world), and everyone knows that the best way to cope is to get started on the next project as soon as possible. But before I start making preparations for my next venture – directing a three-hander by Michael Frayn called Here – let’s look back on what a wonderful journey this has been through the world of Pride and Prejudice.
We had a longer rehearsal period than I’m used to, starting with the read-through back in November. Back then, March and show week seemed a long way off, but here I am now, having to pinch myself to realise that it’s all over.
There have been several highlights of the show, including Nick’s hilarious sideburns as Darcy (I’ve forgotten what he looks like without them!), Leigh’s (Jane Bennet) questionable sewing skills, accompanied by exclamations of ‘I’ve got to sort my tapestry out!’ around the 15-minute call before each show, and the hideous centre parting and fringe curls I sported that looked like I’d stuck a bunch of pubes on my head. I can only pray that particular hairstyle never comes back into fashion. After each show I would run upstairs to our two lovely hairdressers in dressing room 12, wailing ‘get rid of them!’, and they would kindly sort me out with a pretty fringe plait so I could leave the theatre without a paper bag over my head.
In the last week of rehearsals I went a bit ‘Method’ and rediscovered how to play the piano, then practised doing this while talking until my neighbours surely thought I was deranged. I’m rather chuffed to say that in the final two performances I didn’t play a single wrong note, or slow the playing down to hurriedly fit in a line between each bit. Not bad considering I hadn’t played in years, and had never played to more than one person!
There were downs as well as ups, as with any show – forgotten lines, a missed entrance, dance tights several sizes too big that required constant yanking up in the wings to avoid the Nora Batty effect. But, as always, the ups far outnumbered the downs – the backstage banter, the camaraderie, the hilarity fuelled by a constant supply of Haribo in DR4 (dressing room 4). And, of course, the chance to perform on that beautiful stage in the Kings Theatre.
The production, however, was struck with a great sadness when we lost one of our own. Fellow cast member Roger Taylor, the original Uncle Gardiner, passed away during the weeks leading up to the show. The loss was felt by us all, and although I had not known him before the read-through, I’d quickly grown fond of his sense of humour, the familiar combats and Doc Martins combo, and his regular attempts to get out of dancing in the show (including milling around in the background and hoping the director wouldn’t notice!). We dedicated the show to Roger, and I hope we did him proud.
Along with making a bunch of new friends, I have learnt a lot about myself and grown a little bit more, as an actor does with every role. I’ve played an instrument in front of hundreds of people, something I never dreamt I could do. I’ve learnt an insane amount of lines and been line-perfect in all but one performance, something I only ever hoped I could do. And I’ve come out of it even more convinced that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.