Saturday, 3 September 2011

South Shields: The Corpse On The Stage (Rather Than The Copse)

So, dear blog reader, Monopolise! had its first post-Edinburgh performance south of the banks of the bonnie River Tyne at the legendary Customs House in South Shields. This was the first public performance of the extended two-act version including all of the various bits and pieces which we'd dropped to get the length down to fifty eight minutes for Edinburgh. ('Oh Mr Daniels', the On The Town sequence, Leslie Whicker's Guide To Londinium, more Parkie, more Hansen and Lawro, more Lucky and Mabel, more Boris and more Victor Foxtrot).
At least that was the plan, although audience laughter managed to set Alfie off on spectacular fit of corpsing during the Hansen and Lawro bit meaning the audience were deprived of half-a-dozen lines - including, tragically, the Brokeback Mountain allusion. It mattered, frankly, not-a-jot however, dear blog reader. Because, if you happen to have seen any of the previous performances - at Liverpool, Newcastle or Edinburgh - and also caught this one, that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it's supposed to be!
Thank goodness that the Customs House was the version we chose to have videoed for posterity. The two-act version allows, obviously, for more breathing space, more characterisation, more songs and more silliness. All of which meant a far less manic delivery than at Edinburgh. A relatively last minute addition - a slow reprise of 'Murder Is Around Me' at the start of the second act - was a useful indication of the necessary differences in tempos between the one and two act versions. There's time for reflection, for subtlety, for a bit more soul in the longer version.
We had a super audience - lots of support from Mark's friends and family and from the BBC contingent - all of whom, gratifyingly, seemed to get the general idea and laughed in all the right places. (And a couple of the wrong ones, like when Alf's laughter went walkabout, admittedly!) and the Customs House itself is a lovely space. Warm, encouraging and with beautiful acoustics - aided, this time, by Alf being mic'd up for the first time. Mind you, he did have a bit of trouble with the radio mic during rehearsals. Particularly every time he took Boris's hat off.
Thankfully, however, passing taxis didn't interfere with the radio mic (we had speculated before hand on what to do if, for example, 'Moonlight and Chocolates' had been interrupted by a sudden burst of 'Fred, I've got a pick up for ya on Ocean Road').
For those who asked afterwards, and there were a couple, the songs are, in order: 'Murder Is Around Me', 'I'm Lucky', 'Moonlight and Chocolates', 'Don't Go To London', 'I'm Gonna Take Myself Shopping', 'The Policeman's Song', 'The Latino Hypnotist Song', 'I Should Be So Lucky', 'Monopolise!', 'Murder Is Around Me (Reprise)', 'The Cop Rap', 'It Wasn't Me', 'Oh, Mr Daniels', 'I'm Under London' and 'The Big Finish.' Lyrics by A Joey (with occasional assistance from yer actual K Telly Topping), music by M Deeks. Except for 'I Should Be So Lucky' which, erm, wasn't.
So, a very successful evening all round it would seem. Certainly the reaction in the bar afterwards, and subsequent feedback on Facebook and Twitter has been hugely positive. The blog will bring you any reviews as and when we get them. By the way, please note in the next picture the use of a feather duster to replace the proper Fred Astaire-style cane that Alf had acquired, but managed to leave in Edinburgh. Needs must, and all that ...
Oh, and of the course the single most important point of the night, this time Chief Danno O'Hara got his line in uninterrupted. Equity rates, and all that, be fair ladies and gentlemen.
Right, before we go a few necessary bits of housekeeping and a few links to which your attention should be drawn. Firstly there was a very good Northern Echo interview with Alf from earlier in the year in which Monopolise! was mentioned at length. Shortly before the Edinburgh sojourn - there you go, didn't know this blogger was barely monolingual, did you? - the Chronicle's Gordon Barr did a short preview piece. As did the Fringe Preview webpage. And, finally, we highlighted this after the Newcastle show but it's worth highlighting again, Ed Waugh gave us a delightful review which was published in both the Northern Echo and the Shields Gazette.
The next performance of Monopolise! - the last of 2011 - will take place at the Consett Empire Theatre on Friday 7 October. So that gives Alf plenty more time to fiddle with the script a bit more! Book online or call the Box Office on 01207 218 171. This was a public service announcement.

1 comment: