Unpacking the Pack of 3

The Pack of 3 nights at the Marlborough at the end of August were well-attended and well-received. In fact Tarik, one of the Theatre managers, has asked for something for the fringe next year.

The second night of Pack of 3 evening was better than the first. The fact that there was so much going on in everyone’s life: me moving house, the actors all off to study: Beth and Callum acting and Mark writing plus holidays, work commitments and so on meant that rehearsal time was very compressed. Also our sound and lighting person was only able to give us an hour or so before the opening made for a nervy first night.

The evenings featured three short plays, Wrong, our strongest piece from the March shows. We ended the March shows with Wrong, and where it was recieved as a pure comedy. This time, as an opener, the darker existential side of the play seemed to come to the fore. The characters of two young people deciding to become actors, who then find a corpse under the table became less comic and more darkly absurd. The audiences were absorbed.

Mark wrote the second piece Pirates Anonymous, and I am full of admiration for him. A fine piece to have written at any age, let alone 19, was about a dysfunctional family whose son takes on a Pirate persona to express his filial rage is a wonderfully theatrical device. The second scene was a self-help group for Pirate obsessives, with the boy attending and reaffirming his vow to be a pirate. Mark used a good deal of pirate language to spice up the text and this gave a really good flavour to the piece. This combined with Mark, Beth and Callum’s huge piratical roaring enlivened the audience somewhat (and made the endless piratical roars of rehearsal well worth it).

The last piece Betty the Spacegirl drew some lovely physical performances from the actors. I had written it in a hurry, but it worked. The actors brought some excellent physical comedy to it too, and the costumes were fantastic. Essentially the story is that Betty the Spacegirl lands on a plant containing only male, somewhat rubbish looking aliens, with antennae. After a while the action is stopped and you see the characters bickering in the guise as actors. The piece is about communication failing, and slightly mocking the idea of Men are from Mars etc. It also had Callum as a transvestite alien, which was good value in itself.

I am working on another play for Christmas, called Sophie and the Angel, which has a strong concept. Next time I am going to more hands on about managing the play and its marketing, as the theatre did next to nothing to promote it until the last few days. My key learning: try not to do everything at the same time.

The great redeemer in all of this were Beth Symons, Mark Gandey and Callum McIntyre. The cast brought enormous energy, enthusiasm and managed to pull the show out of the hat brilliantly. I am fairly certian that when I am in my dotage, I will be croaking to anyone who will listen from my bath chair that I once had a couple of plays performed with these three stars in it. And nobody will believe me.