Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hamp over and done

The Stageworks production of the play, Hamp, is now over and done with, and I've wound up with a cold. Not the only actor, apparently; a combination of tiredness and a cold theatre (or at least cold on the stage itself) didn't help.
It's an odd play, as I noted in my last post, and I don't know that any of the actors felt they completely got to grips with it. Perhaps more rehearsal time and discussion about the characters might have helped, but we were constrained by a short rehearsal period, and so had to do our best with the time we had.
The audiences 'enjoyed' it. I put enjoyed in quotes because it's not a play you enjoy; you kind of endure it, because it's pretty obvious from early on that things aren't going to go well for the main character. It's a bit like how you feel about Hamlet. No matter how many times you see it, he's never going to come out alive.
I mentioned the following incident on Facebook, I think: one lady couldn't bear to watch it to the end and left her husband in the audience while she went out and sat in the car. 'That poor young man!' she told one of front of house people. There were tears from other audience members, and gasps each night when Hamp basically opens his mouth at one crucial point in the court martial, and lands himself in the poo.
One man, however, only got to the end of the first act: 'Not my sort of thing. Boring.' He'd already muttered all the way through the act, and would have been in line to be throttled by the cast if he'd carried on any longer. The first act is a long conversation between Hamp and his defending counsel - there are only occasional interruptions from other minor characters. It's the sort of scene that requires top notch intensity, because there's no real conflict between the two characters, not much for them to get their teeth into. But that's the way the author's written it...
The cast consisted of young actors, in their early twenties, and a bunch of older actors - apart from two guys who came in somewhere in the middle. As a group we got on well; there was no sense that the youngsters avoided the oldies. It's strange to think that in thirty or forty years time, if these young actors remember acting in the play, the older actors will have long been forgotten. It's unlikely any of us will live to be a hundred or more!

Members of the cast in the court martial scene:
Rob Hart as Prescott, Lindsay Smith as the Midgely, the prosecutor, Elliot Phillips as Hamp, Craig Storey as the Guard, Rob Monzari (at back) as the Corporal, and Brian Kilkelly as Hargreaves, the defending counsel.
Photo courtesy of Ian Thomson
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