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20 July 2013 @ 06:23 pm
How now, my hearts?  
What's this, two posts in the same year? Maybe I've discovered some of the vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself! Or perhaps I saw Twelfth Night again on Wednesday and I'm in Propeller-withdrawal at the thought of having to wait a year for their next tour.

I went to the Hampstead Theatre for the first time - I had a ticket for Winter's Tale there last year but couldn't make it, so I wasn't sure what the theatre was like, how big etc. I'd got a seat in the front row because I was carrying on to Cardiff for a couple of nights right after and I was figuring the front would have more room for my overnight bag to go by my feet without everyone tripping over it.

It certainly had more leg room; it was also practically in the performance. Literally, when I'd sat down I could reach straight out and put my hand flat on the stage. It made me kind of wish I'd worn my contacts because some of the Propeller guys are tall and whenever they were right in front of me or at the edge of the stage, I had to crane my neck to see them properly and not cut off at the waist by my glasses rim which was a bit distracting (!) but being so close made up for a lot. Hampstead's not a huge theatre anyway (I saw Twelfth and Shrew in April in The Lowry's Lyric Theatre which is pretty cavernous in comparison and although I was only the third row there, Hampstead felt immediately more intimate, not I think just because I was in the front). I got a lot more eye contact than I expected too - during 'Mistress Mine', Liam O'Brien (Feste) beckoned to me as he sang "Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty/Youth's a stuff will not endure" which was both flattering and a little mortifying, and occasionally one of them would briefly pick you out to direct a line or a look at. As I'd seen it before it was kind of awesome because it didn't matter that it was a little distracting from what was going on, and it was nifty to be involved even briefly.

I'm planning to do Hampstead again next year with some London-based friends to see them do Midsummer Night's Dream and I'd certainly be tempted to try the front row again or possibly second if just to avoid getting a crick in my neck. In The Lowry I'd definitely recommend the third row as ideal though - the stage is higher and I think trying to watch from the first two rows, especially speaking as a short person, would be pretty uncomfortable.

Seeing the same play again within a few months was actually really interesting - there were subtle differences in timing, Olivia's oh my god when the twins were revealed was delivered from the back of the stage rather than the front so it didn't get a much of a laugh, and I spent more time watching individual actors rather than the bigger picture of what was going on. Time and again I kept looking back to Joseph Chance (Viola), because I'd sort of just accepted him without a second look last time but when I actually looked closer he was just exquisitely rewarding to watch. As a guy playing a girl disguised as a guy he had everything spot on with body language, expressions even when he was reacting in the background, the way he flinched slightly whenever Orsino gave him a 'manly' pat on the back, everything.

At the point where Cesario exits practically at a run after Olivia's declaration of love in 3.1 I think, Dan Wheeler (Sebastion) was watching at the side of the stage masked as a Zanie, and on his way past him off-stage Joe patted him on the chest which was sweet (though probably not meant to be seen from the audience!).

Joseph Chance (Viola/Cesario) and Christopher Heyward (Orsino)

I hope Joe (Joe particularly, but all of them actually; I'm just as fond of this ensemble now as of the 2006/7 production) comes back for the next tour because I'd love to see how he does in Dream/Errors but nothing's been announced re.casting yet. I'm not sure Liam O'Brien will come back (he seems pretty busy outside of Propeller), which is sad because he was a brilliant Feste and he made up for the loss of Tony Bell. I'm watching for the casting news for the next tour with a lot of interest.

After it was over and I finally convinced myself to leave (I waited to be almost the last one out, because I was so sad that it was over and I might see Propeller do Twelfth again but never these actors doing this exact production), I was walking up the corridor towards the exit and I nearly walked right into Ben Allen (Olivia, Tranio) who'd somehow de-Oliviaed and changed into bright turquoise t-shirt & Hawaiian shorts (London was very, very hot this week) in record time. He was walking towards the main door, totally absorbed in looking at his phone and I wanted to ask him to sign my ticket but then he held the door for me as we walked out into the foyer, still without looking up from his phone, and I had an attack of shyness and also didn't want to attract the attention of the entire crowd filling the foyer to the fact that one of the actors was right there so I didn't. Slightly regret it now. My goal next year is to go to a performance with one of the after-show talks because a. it'd be really interesting and b. it'd be easier to tell them they're all amazing and c. surely it'd make it much easier to get them all to sign a programme.

So all in all I'm rather terribly sad that this tour is over (or almost, after a few more performances of Shrew I think). Propeller's Twelfth Night is still my favourite production of anything that I've ever seen, not that I could choose between the 2007 one and this one; if they tour it again in a few years then I'll be attending as many performances as I can because it's wonderful.Feste's closing song still gets me like a punch in the chest every single time.

I'm looking forward to Dream and Errors a lot, but part of me wonders if anything could measure up to Twelfth. It'll be interesting to see.

I've also discovered that Propeller's 'Pocket Merchant' is touring to the town where I work in October, so I've just booked a ticket for that. Haven't done any of the Pocket productions before so I'm a little worried the entire theatre will be full of school kids that've been forced to go but I'm still intrigued to see it! It might even get the third LJ post in a year. ;-)


For a few more Propeller-related things:


While at Hampstead Theatre I picked up a leaflet on Propeller Props, the donation reward scheme run by Propeller (click to enlarge):


It was interesting because I hadn't really thought before about how difficult it must be to fund Propeller's productions and their tours, and it made me wonder if I could possible afford to donate anything to help.

However, the MAIN thing I took away from reading it was that if you have upwards of £1500 to donate to Propeller? You basically get to gatecrash their rehearsals, their tour, and their parties. Roll on lottery win please!


I couldn't stop singing a couple of Feste's songs to myself, so I mp3'd the uploads of them that they have on the Propeller site.

Come Away, Death, on Mediafire

Hay-Ho (Feste's & the whole ensembles' closing song) on Mediafire


An interesting audio-only (but with beautiful stills from the play) few minutes of Edward Hall talking about Twelfth Night. He raises a lot of the points that make me love Twelfth so much, about the implications of gender not mattering to love and the chaotic, festival nature of the entire play.


Finn Hanlon and Arthur Wilson answer questions pulled out of a hat. This is actually really sweet; when asking Arthur the "If you were a superhero, what power would you have?" question, Finn pauses to add "You're already a superhero to me of course.". There's a few nifty Propeller facts too and I'm all for this turning into a Propeller tradition.


All the current dates for the 2013/2014 Propeller tour of Midsummer Night's Dream/A Comedy of Errors, along with links to books tickets as they're available, is here

The dates for the tour of Pocket Merchant and tickets links are here


Until next time. :)