It's All Kicking Off
So, the saga continues. Trying to show how one ‘puts on a play’ creaks ever onwards. At a secret venue, which for the purposes of continuity, we shall call a pub, there was a production meeting where the remarkable Katie Unsworth-Murray produced her design for the set. It literally fits into a shoebox and she has made it all to scale.
[Shoebox design by Katie - including the chandelier]
She even produced a tiny chandelier, which allowed me to inform her that ‘electricity hasn’t been invented yet’. I promised that I wouldn’t mention that to anyone (oops!).
Once you’ve advertised for actors wishing to audition for a production of A Doll’s House, it is only polite to be there and welcome them in. ‘Once more unto the breach’ came to mind as we entrenched ourselves into The Barons Court Theatre. Director Kevin Russell, for New Dreams Theatre, sat me down and gave me a list of names. These people would, at thirty-minute intervals, arrive and audition for us.
If you read my last article about finding the lead actress for the part of Nora (and Alexa Matthews accepted our offer), then you’ll have some idea what Kevin had already had to do to get to this stage.
Even so, a collection of characters wandered in that would have made P T Barnum gasp in horror. Amidst the drunk Irishman, the bizarre Chuckle Brother impression and the born-again Christian seeking new converts, we did manage to find a wonderful bunch of actors, all worthy of the three parts up for grabs. So, the full cast is now complete:
The cast is Alexa Matthews (Nora Helmer), Paul Vates (Torvald Helmer), Julia Florimo (Kristine Linde), Brian Merry (Dr Rank), Cathryn Brayshaw (Helene), Ramzi DeHani (Nils Krogstad)
Still at the end of the audition day, we returned above ground, into the light, for a drink in The Curtains Up pub that sits atop the theatre. As we discussed the colourful collection of actors on offer, like a couple of football pundits on a Saturday afternoon, taking into account the results, the teamwork aspects and the skill and style on show, the Irishman shadowed us in between his pints - he had decided to linger for a few when he discovered the bar… For all I know, he may still be there.
As an aside, rehearsals have begun on a relaxed basis between Alexa and myself (I’m playing Torvald, her husband). Kevin has taken us through all the major scenes between us, allowing us to get a grasp of the whole thing before the whole company assembles.
[Alexa as Nora - possibly before the unexpected visitor]
It has all gone quite smoothly, apart from when a rat scurried through the room - eye contact that afternoon was at a minimum as every shadow became our rodent critic.
[Alexa having noticed the ratty critic?]
Now there is only one thing left to do - full company rehearsals!
We’ll soon meet and with a frisson akin to a school playground, we’ll begin assembling the play. Then - and only then - will Kevin utter his trademark phrase: It’s All Kicking Off!
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen will be performed from November 3rd to 22nd at Barons Court Theatre, west London. Call the box office direct on 020 8932 4747 or email email@example.com to reserve seats.