So, this weekend was a biggie:
1, had to tell my parents my secret (which I’m not posting here just yet).
2. Went to see my brothers play in the west end.
I was seriously nerve racked on the drive down to Cardiff to see mum and dad, which made it an interesting drive to put it politely. There was not much traffic on the road as I had waited till late in order to meet up with Andy and Nich on their way to Nich’s parents.
Anyway, it was late and the roads were relatively clear which was nothing but a good thing as my mind was constantly wandering, imagining what would happen when I got home, playing over every possible bad scenario, sometimes with me just not coming out alive! I even occasionally contemplated letting go of the wheel and re-enacting the Fight Club crash, although only for a split second at a time and never seriously (before anyone calls the men in white coats).
But I eventually made it home and my mum had waited up, my dad had yet to return from the rugby. So I had a brief chat with my mum and she got some food out for me, which I couldn’t eat, and then I heard the gate open and Dad walking in. At this point I broke down, too scared to speak and petrified at how my dad would react….
I’ve never liked telling my dad much about my life (especially this), but I’m not sure where it stems from. While I KNOW my dad is nothing but supportive, I’ve always been able to imagine him being unbelievably upset. I think I see myself as only 16 whenever I go home, everything regresses to when I was younger when dad would be the disciplinarian (not In a bad abusive way or anything).
…. But anyway dad was calm, logical and calculating, nothing but what a good parent would be in this situation. (I know some reading this will be wondering what the situation is, but I will fill that in when the time is right) But I also realised that I can’t cure what’s happened. I think I thought that ma and pa would come out with some magical formula for making it all better, but my realisation that only I can sort this (or make it bearable).
So anyway Saturday was good, it was the day we put everything aside and concentrated on supporting my brother in his first professional foray into writing. My father (how many terms for dad can I get in one entry?) had hired a minibus to take all 8 of us travelling from Cardiff to the play, which was a great idea, and my dad had packed somewhat of a picnic of champagne and cheese to start the celebrations on the bus.
Well anyway we arrived at the theatre nice and early and met up with my brother down in the bar/restaurant and had a couple of drinks with him, and he was obliged to sign everyone a copy of his play, man how embarrassing for him, but hopefully it may be something he one day has to get used to. We ate and then entered the play… I’m not sure if I can do an unbiased review, but I’m not going to apologise for a bias in my review anyway:
The play is spaced in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs which is a small studio space, quite suited to this production, and what immediately jumped out at me was the amazingly interesting nature of the set design. You are presented a typical studio space set out with a theatre in the round, so that the audience are ostensibly on stage, Now, I’ve read the play which contains a lot of direction on staging and direction but also there were such vivid and brilliant moves by the stage designers and directors. The theatre is instantly infused with an air of foreboding and darkness, for fear of spoiling the experience I can’t describe much but to say that there are a series of monitors placed above the space.
The play itself is what can only be described as raw and gritty with enough f words and other profanities to make the best of people blush. I myself found it very uncomfortable, but mainly because I was sat next to my mum, and it was written by my brother. But this feeling of uncomfortably was not out of place, and while the play is inter-fused with enough laugh out loud moments (I defy anyone not to find the monologue from “Alex” about foot sex hilarious) that you don’t feel completely alienated from your surroundings, you do feel out of place enough to be in touch with the characters as their positions become apparent. Because make no mistake this is no happy play, this is a play about dejection, disillusionment and about abuse. I’m not sure if this says something about my brother’s mental state but I think not.
The characters themselves are engaging and each one of them has a streak of brilliance in, from my favourite (and probably a few peoples) Alex, who I’m sure my brother has put a little of himself into, an overly self-confident overly camp, overly funny character, who takes us on a night out, and back again. A deliciously vibrant portrayal of his friends and people he bumps into. All the way to a gay, but unemotional, “we’re trained not to use words”, police officer, who is apparently in love with his partner.
The characters are each one engaging but also on some levels disgusting, none of them seem to be quite right and hence the plays exploration of what is troubling each one of these characters.
Coming out of the play it was obvious no one wanted to say anything uncomplimentary about the work of someone they knew, but in the interests of fairness I suppose I have to say some bad things, sorry Rob. The play while brilliantly engaging, seemed to be lacking one tiny bit in exposition, by this I never worked out some of the characters back story, such as Stella’s until I was discussing it later on. Also to me the character of the police officer seemed a little out of place, while not providing an overall comic touch I felt the character himself had been built to provide comedy that never came, I just had trouble believing in the character. Perhaps this is my own shortcoming and I did understand what his placement was supposed to show, but would he have been any less poignant without the story of his partner? I just don’t know.
However I did thoroughly enjoy my night, but then again I would. Plus I got to meet the cast which is not something that happens too regularly… well done Rob, at least someone is making the family proud.