Thursday, 19 August 2010

Once more and with feeling please (or No Pain No Game)

I know I may not have had the best run of luck when it comes to men, but it truly takes the biscuit when you cant even get on with your stage husband.So it is unfortunate for me that the man I have to kiss passionately every night for the next three weeks, who I have to declare my undying love to, is a small, balding French man named Pierrot who is actually the most dislikeable and creepy guy I have ever met .

Firstly,his years of physical theatre training at the Theatre de Complicite in Paris , (as he keeps reminding me), have turned any form of subtlety and nuance into blatant "Panto acting". There is no real emotion or feeling in his performance, just a hell of alot of "expression",

And what's worse is, not only does he take himself way too seriously, but he is also extremely camp, and although the theatre is the one place where you are allowed to suspend your disbelief, you'd have to be really fucking stupid if you tried to imagine that we were lovers, unless I strapped my breasts down and cut my hair short.

No matter how much acting skill  I put  into pretending to love this man in rehearsals, imagining he is Brad Pitt, Don Draper, Jude Law, as I stare into his hard cold eyes, its just no use.There's not one drop of love or affection between us.And I'm afraid its starting to show
 So the next morning I decide to get to the theatre early to try and have word with the Director about this,before Fellow Actor arrives. But Loverboy is there already discussing with him ,over a cup of tea,the pros and cons of Laban ( which,I had thought was an area of my genitalia until recently) or some other equally useless profound acting "technique" thought up by some out of work actor.
The Director spots me lurking by the door and takes this chance to call me over and give us a few notes whilst he has us on our own. He sits us down and kind of looks at the floor , tapping his foot furiously and then says

" Well, what can I say?". And I fumble with my script and wait with baited breath.

And then he simpers and says, opening his arms for dramatic effect,

" The chemistry between you both is lovely. Really lovely"

Whaaat?? Maybe I'm a better actress than I thought!

and then he adds tritely, "Perhaps a touch more pain from you both?" and jumps up and says

"Time for another cup of Tea??"  just like that.

Thats it? I think,and I sidle up to my dressing room feeling more bitter and twisted than ever.
So once everyone has arrived, we go through Act 1 again, and now , to indicate his "pain",Mon Amour has started doing some kind of silent movie style, hand- to- forehead gesture,and keeps staring into the distance furrowing his brow like Joey Tribiani in "days of Our Lives" .I've had enough now ,I'm just going to look really shit if he carries on like this, I think, and I can see the director is looking a bit uncomfortable and thinking What have I done??,

So I grab him in the next tea break and pull him over to one side

"Is that pain enough for you ?" I ask him loading the sentence with hidden meaning without out and out saying, "How can we get him to STOP!". Its hard trying to be professional and pleasant whilst being a bitch about a Fellow Actor ,but its a skill most actors seem to perfect throughout their career.

" Oh my," he sighs,"Between you and me, Harry, this melodrama,Its getting to be a bit of a problem isn't it?" He leans in conspiritorially."Harriett, dear", he says, "you're a professional actress with a good name in the biz. And tons of experience. I was just wondering, is there anything we can think of to shall I put it, make this better?"

What? Short of a recast. I think

"I'll see what I can do" I say

So when we get to rehearsing Act 2, and the bit where we have The Turbulent Argument, rather than letting him perform it like a soliloquy, which is how he's been playing it, I decide to force him to look at me and react to me, going all out to show my passion and angst as I lurch towards him, and grasp his shoulders intensely so that he can't physically move , but this takes him by surprise and his legs buckle underneath him (core strength non?) suddenly causing him to lose balance and tumble off the stage, taking me with him.

"Aaaargh!", he shouts as I collapse on top of him.,
 "Good good." claps the director., "Much better.Shall we break for a nice cup of tea?"
But the guy is screaming loud "Stop the shooooow" he shouts
I look around at the empty audience . He really was taking this very seriously.
"My leg" he screams. "My leeeeeeg!! And his face is contorted in agony.

"Morphiiiiine" he bellows "I need morphine" and he grabs his leg .

Whoops. I don't think he's acting .

Ten minutes later and he is in the ambulance which is about to drive off when he shouts
"Stoooooop!!!" and dramatically announces to the onlookers on the street
"MY make up!! "he says . "I cant possibly go to the hospital in make up. It is ridiculous". He says puffing away at the old morphine. And the make up artist is summoned and runs out with some wet wipes and frantically dabs at his face as the sirens go off.
"Somebody call my boyfrieeeeend. I have no credit on my phooooone.." he screams as the ambulance doors slam in his face.

Thank god. I think. They'll HAVE to recast now.

But the next day I roll up to the theatre and, to my surprise, he is there,his leg in full cast proudly standing on crutches..
"Are you going to be Ok like that?" I ask suspiciously.
"The show must go on". he says, victoriously.
Does nothing stop this guy? He is like a machine.

Three days later and we have completely rewritten the script to incorporate the broken leg. The director is pissed off, the writer's pissed off and the rest of the cast are pissed off, and then I walk into rehearsals this morning and sense a strange sort of atmosphere in the building. I'm doing my vocal warm up in my dressing room (ie fag and coffee) when the director announces through the tannoy that he would like to have us all onstage for a meeting.

When we are all gathered round, he calls for silence and then says,

" I''m  afraid we are going to be losing Pierrot. He has unfortunately got  go to hospital again...but this time its for"

And I see Pierrot look up for a second. And the director just throws his script down, in despair and looks at me and shrugs  and says
"fuck it...he has to go into hospital; because he has an Abscess on his penis.There I've said it. Pierrot is having an OPERATION ON HIS PENIS!" he shouts, and I can see he suddenly feels liberated.

And I've never seen anyone move out of a room so fast on crutches in my life.

The question is, and its one I ask myself frequently, who will be the next lucky man to play my Lover, now that he is gone?