‘Saints and Sinners’ SHOW 2
Thursday 25th May 2017
Breakdown analysis and reflection of the entire performance
Opening Safety announcement
I still think we could have come on the stage with more energy for the safety announcement and introduction to the club as the whole thing felt and appeared tentative and underwhelming. I personally felt quite awkward making the walk from the bar to center stage in complete silence and as a unit we found it difficult to judge when to do this after the preamble as we had no specific cue other than making a judgment of whether the audience chatter had died down enough. I wonder whether it would have felt less disjointed and more like part of the show if there was music in the background underscoring our dialogue, as well as lifting the atmosphere and energy in preparation for the song. Although it was clear we had made improvements from the first performance where we managed to get ourselves in a muddle with the order of lines and threw ourselves off guard, I think there was an element of uncertainty and anxiety around whether we would make the same mistake again, which was coming through in our performances.
St Jimmy Song
In the opening of Saint jimmy song felt quite awkward and I think we should have made more of a decision as to who we were singing to and how we were presenting it. I tried to include the other waitresses as if it was a conversation which seemed to add a little more excitement however the others didn’t always respond. Emma and Sian sounded quite expressionless in their delivery but I think this is mainly because we hadn’t actually decided how it would be performed or why as characters we were doing this. I think Sian and Emma were also very much concentrating on the vocals and being accurate.
By the time it got to the line we sing together ‘coming at you at the count of 1,2,3,4’ there was a lot more energy and excitement and we all looked at each other and shared the moment as our character’s.
I think jack pulled of his song very well and managed to get across his character very well and although the vocals weren’t always 100% accurate I don’t think this mattered at all and almost suited the character brilliantly as st jimmy wouldn’t be completely polished. He also did a very good job of including the audience and establishing the idea that he is the link between the audience and the action on stage. By the time it got to the show he had managed to mainly get rid of the American accent and was using his cockney accent more whilst singing which worked a lot better and suited his character.
The link scene after at jimmy between Sian and him dipped a little in energy and I think this could have been rectified slightly by raising their volume in their spoken dialogue as naturally the change in volume from the rocky st jimmy green day song to a conversation is dramatic and takes a while for audience ears to adjust. Some of jacks lines were slightly too quiet and although Sian had good volume at the beginning of her sentences she let the ends tail off and become mumbled.
I want to be seduced
Sian’s song was really good and she managed to take on the notes about the microphone and how she needed to remember to take it with her when she moves over to get closer to tom playing the guitar. As mentioned in previous reflections I think this song was perfect for Sian and her voice style and definitely highlighted just how much she has improved as a singer and performer over the past 2 years at Conservatoire EAST. She managed to take on the guidance given by Birgitta about changing between her head and chest voice and that it was okay to enjoy the flip into the upper voice and how the notes get slightly weaker, as it fits that jazzy style really well.
I could also clearly see the work that had gone in to creating a flirty and more seductive delivery of the song as early on in the process she wasn’t as confident in doing this and used very little movement however after doing work with Lynn and Erica on this she managed to pull it off really well on the night and seemed much more at ease. The only thing I thought looked slightly forced and unnatural was the way she leans on tom at the end as she almost squats down to do this and it looks rather strange. I think she should have decided on either kneeing down fully or resting on his shoulder as the in between stage looked very unnatural and forced.
The way the posh boys ad-libbed some responses among themselves about the dancers as they walked on helped keep the club atmosphere and made it seem more natural, as well as helping the link between the pieces feel smoother as it filled any silence. Myself and the other waitresses tried to create a playful atmosphere in the background while the dance was going on by mimicking the dancers and copying certain bits of the routine as we wanted to give the impression that our characters would have seen the acts over and over again and so would have favourites. We had to make sure not to be too distracting or detract attention from the dancers as they we’re obviously the act that was supposed to be watched by the audience. From watching the footage back I think we achieved this well as we kept all movement and interaction between us minimal and very discreet, and we also made sure not to vocalise our conversations but to mime them animatedly.
The dance itself looked really slick and well performed. There were a few moments where one of the dancers was a fraction of a second behind or ahead of the others but this wasn’t noticeable unless it was looked for. One moment I noticed was at the beginning of the second section (approximately 9:18 on the first video in the playlist) Zoe is slightly late in sliding down to the floor and rolling over.
Nevertheless, the dancers coped really well with the limited space and negotiated with the tables chairs and the steel deck behind them. One thing that we identified as potentially being a problem when rehearsing in production week was that the audience might think that the dance was over when they pose together in a freeze on the back platform, and came to the decision those on stage would clap and encourage them to do more (almost like an encore) so that it felt like part of the piece and didn’t make the audience uncomfortable. This was a good decision to make as naturally the audience began clapping and thought it was the end but when they heard the music restart and noticed us all on stage watching and calling for more they soon realised that there was more to follow and stopped clapping. I think over all this is a good example of how having cast members on stage as audience members and bar staff at the club it helped direct the audience as to how they are supposed to react as they are lead by the reactions of those acting on stage who are clearly visible. This is one aspect of his type of theatre that is a real positive for cast and audience members, especially in a show such as this where things are slightly abstract and the audience may not know how to behave or react.
I think the dancers choreography used the theme of ‘Charlie’s angels’ well by using the gun motif throughout however they didn’t let it take over the dance routine or limit them creatively. They ended the piece well by returning to their opening motif and walking off slowly with in a line with their gun position; by having this full circle of beginning and ending the same I think it helped the audience know it was the end (which was important after having the moment where we all anticipate the dance to finish the first time).
Introduction to ‘I want to be Evil’
Jacks introduction to Chloe’s piece ‘I want to be evil’ got a good response from the audience and had them laughing in reaction to him stating ‘she needed no introduction’ in a mimicking tone.
Personally I am not sure whether this was a decision we collectively made as a cast or whether it just came about spontaneously, however as no one enters the stage immediately the posh boys and waitresses and other cast members on stage began adlibbing remarks and comments about no one entering the stage and questioning where the act is. I think this really helped create intrigue and suspense around the upcoming act and made the impact stronger when Chloe eventually appears from the audience.
‘I want to be Evil’
Chloe’s performance of ‘I want to be evil’ got a good response from the audience and she managed to maintain the character work she had done throughout the performance. The opening section, which is spoken, was clear and easy to understand and she managed to get across the purity and innocence of the character by using the higher and softer tones of her voice however I think she could have played around with this more as it sounded slightly robotic and like she was reciting something rather than speaking from the heart. On the other hand this may have been a character choice of hers to show the restriction and confinement of being good all the time.
The singing wasn’t always perfect and there were quite a few moments where her pitching wasn’t accurate and she was consistently flat or sharp or just not quite hitting the notes; however she managed to act her way through the song and connect to the audience well which made it less of a problem.
She opened the stage and looked confident and comfortable performing and interacting with the on and off stage audience. She did aim lots of her performance at the right side of the stage and audience which may have been because it was where the posh boys were positioned, however as a performer it is essential to include all the paying audience as they are all deserving of the same experience and involvement. While she used the whole stage space well at the beginning and end of her piece there was a section where she was quite static and looked less comfortable as she didn’t have any ‘set moves’. I think in this section she could have afforded to let go a bit and enjoy playing around with audience members by catching their eyes and flirting or aiming some of the lines at them. From my point of view it seemed that Chloe was a lot more comfortable in the character and the song when she had choreographed movements however when she didn’t have these to hide behind or encourage her she found it easier to slip out of character and back into herself. I really liked the fact she ended the song on the stage platform however I think she could have done something bigger to extenuate the ending of the song and go out with a bang (as the character she’s playing in the song definitely would) and it would just help the ending feel that bit stronger and less apologetic. The last note was difficult for chloe and although it had improved over the rehearsal process it will wasn’t in tune and was over pitched. I think this is because she was preempting the note and with the adrenaline and fear of not hitting it, she just got sharper and sharper. Admittedly this song was a big number and probably a step out of her comfort zone, as someone on the dance pathway.
Jacks link scene where he talks to the posh boys after Chloe’s song got a little bit lost due to his accent. I understand that maintaining a Estuary accent on stage can be difficult as you have to be aware of keeping enough diction and clarity so that the audience can understand you but also balancing this with the dropping of consonance and pronunciation of words required for the accent. When watching the recording back I found it difficult to understand what he was saying on the line ‘give one of my girls a wave’, as he decreased in volume as the sentence trailed out and didn’t annunciate the ‘v’ sound in wave which made it sound like it could be another word that wasn’t so appropriate!
Links scene between Posh boys and Waitresses
In the scene where the posh boys call for one of the waitresses to go over, I was aware that we were stuck behind the bar and that this might be difficult for audience meme era to see the action taking place and so I when delivering my line ‘No Maddie can go’ I made sure to pull us out from behind the bar and to the corner of the steel deck so that the sight lines were better.
In retrospect I think it does make my character look a little cruel by pushing Maddie over to the boys, when I spend the majority of the show complaining about them; so I wonder if we could have done this in a better way, perhaps by a short exchange of dialogue where we encourage Maddie or plead by saying why we can’t go over. This is a change we could have explored further if we had more time.
The scene where Maddie drops her notepad in front of the posh boys worked a lot better in this show and looked far slicker and less staged. I think all the boys involved
From an audiences view point it may have seemed like the end to the scene where Maddie comes back to the bar to tell us what happened, was too cramped and too far upstage again – however this is all depending on where someone is sitting in he audience. As one of the tables is directly in front of the bar where most of our scenes take place, we run the risk of being blocked by the person sitting at it and therefore distracting from the action. At this particular moment, it just so happened that Sophia was sitting in the chair that blocked the section of the bar we were at, and as Sophia is extremely tall this was even more of a problem. To solve this I think it could have been as simple as moving Sophia to the other side of the table or moving the table further downstage so that it wasn’t so cluttered together and sight lines would be less likely to be obstructed. Obviously this is a difficultly of performing in a small studio theatre space, and isn’t something we would have noticed from our side of the stage, only after seeing the show from an audience point of view.
Link scene between Ruby and Lulu
There was a reasonably long gap between the end of this scene and Hannah’s entrance as Ruby, which may have been because she couldn’t hear her cue line, or simply because she timed it slightly later than usual by mistake, however it did pull the energy down slightly due to the lull in action. Once again in hindsight we could have filled this with general chitchat and background action so that it didn’t feel so awkward, however I think not everyone was sure what the problem was or whether it would be of help or just throw others off guard more.
From an outside audience perspective I am sure they would not have noticed this void at all or would have quickly forgotten about it if they did, however as someone who was on stage at the time it did feel a lot longer than the few seconds it really was.
I found it extremely difficult to hear what Hannah was saying when she had the exchange between her and Sian as Lulu and Ruby. This was mainly because she was talking so fast that by the time you had noticed she was talking the content of what she was saying had been and gone. The reason this happened was most likely because she was trying to get across the character’s urgency and the fact that she shouldn’t have been there, however from an audiences perspective this needed to be a lot clearer as she end up missing the vital information that she is ‘selling’ and that she shouldn’t be in the club, as well as the fact that she is of a poor background and has to scrounge of Lulu and the bar for drinks.
In my personal opinion I don’t even think Hannah had to worry about getting across urgency from her character as naturally Ruby is supposed to be really easy going and slightly clueless and so she probably wouldn’t have any concerns about being in the club in the first place, it would be Lulu who would be more likely to have urgency and secrecy in her vocal tone.
Another good example of mine and the waitresses background acting was during the dialogue where st jimmy asks Sophia and Faye’s characters what they want to drink. In the background Sian and I are interacting with Hannah character, Ruby, and trying to tell her that she needed to leave and take the can she brought in with her off her. This kind of background acting is essential to keep up the club atmosphere and make it seem natural and have that ‘spotlight’ affect we wanted to get across from the start. However as previously mentioned we also needed to ensure this wasn’t distracting from the central action on stage. I think as a unit the waitresses achieved this whole concept really well throughout, however this is a particularly good example how we maintained character without distracting or overplaying our interactions.
Angels and Demons
The dialogue before the ex confrontation dance ‘angels and demons’ between Zoe and Faye had improved a lot by the time it had got to this performance, however it was still clear that they were not natural actors and found it more difficult than others to emotionally connect to the text. Nevertheless, this was almost irrelevant as there means of expressing this was through the medium of dance and when dancing both Zoe and Faye managed to show expression and emotion on heir faces and through their movement. In past run through the spoken dialogue over the introduction occasionally got lost due to volume however in this performance they managed to increase the volume of their lines considerably which actually ended up giving them more fuel and power behind the words which helped get across the character’s anger and frustration.
The dance itself was really strong and the choreography clearly got across the controlling and abusive relationship. The whole routine was so clever and flowed smoothly between the sections. I really loved the way they used symmetry and unison sections in their choreography to show how the relationship changed over time and how Zoe’s character manipulated Fayes. I don’t know if it was intentional but I felt that by Zoe adapting some of the movements slightly to be different from Faye showed how the character wasn’t what she seemed.
They managed to get across the status of the character’s through levels and the style of movements each of them used, for example Faye’s sections were more lyrical whereas Zoe had sharper and more angular movements. Even when doing the same motif of choreography they managed to adapt it slightly to fit their character’s and portray their status.
I think Zoe’s acting was really strong throughout the dance and she managed to capture the dominance of her character and portray this through her facial expressions as well as her movements well.
Jess Last was providing the vocals for the song ‘Angels and Demons’ which I think complimented the dance well and the way it was performed was subtle enough to not draw away from the action that was happening on stage. The fact that it almost become secondary and you could easily forget she was on the stage singing, should be something that is complimented rather than disregarded as it demonstrates how one can adapt their performance style to blend in and add atmosphere and dynamic rather than over powering the central focus.
Jess’ vocals were really strong and she had managed to take on the feedback about her diction and the need to add a glottal at the beginning of ‘Angel’ rather than sliding into the note like she had done in the past.
Everyone on the stage in the background remembered to watch jess on the stage rather than the dance, as we had decided that the dance confrontation isn’t actually happening but is a memory of the relationship the couple had, and therefore as characters on stage we wouldn’t be able to see it taking place.
Nothing’s going to harm you
The dialogue between Faye and Sophia was once again quite quiet and difficult to hear, which may be partly due to the fact that the song before hand was at a much higher volume and so it takes a while for the audience’s to adjust back down to the volume of spoken dialogue, but is also likely to be because they were trying to be soft and calming to show the affection in their acting and help get across the character’s emotions and intimate relationship.
The song ‘Nothings going to harm you’ was a lot stronger in this performance and Sophia came across as a lot more relaxed and at ease while in performance and this came through in her vocals. Prior to this performance Sophia’s pitching had been quite hit and miss and she struggled with the timing of the track, however it was clear she had worked on this and managed to resolve these issues by the performance. While there were still a few notes that were slightly flat or sharp in places, it was miles better than it was at the beginning of the rehearsal process and I could see an improvement in her pitching and vocal quality over the two years. One note that Sophia had been given in the tech and dress rehearsals, as well as our work in progress showings was that she needed to sing the song as her character on ‘Saints and Sinners’ and not to take on the cockney voice used in the original version of the song in Sweeney Todd the musical. Vocally I could still hear the cockney twang in her voice at places, although admittedly it wasn’t as strong as on the first performance or tech and dress run; it was still there.
I think Sophia acted the song well and got across her character’s relationship with Faye and created a warm connection between them through their eye contact and by reaching out to her at times. It is the character development and the movement and chemistry between her and Faye that made this piece work and brought it to life, which grew each night.
The link between Nothing’s going to harm you and the posh boy scene was quite slow which slowed down the pace and momentum that had been created. However this wasn’t down to Jacks link dialogue at all (as this was delivered promptly after Faye and Sophia exit); it was because Harry took far longer than needed before delivering his line to start the scene. I have noticed this is a habit of Harry’s that arises in most scenes he acts in as he wants to get across the naturalism and let the thoughts drop before speaking, however the danger of this is that it massively slows down the pace and pulls the energy of the show down dramatically.
Luckily the boys managed to pull the energy back up with their pre scene before patience.
After all the controversy and changes around the Patience hymn in the run up to the show the boys managed to pull the whole thing together really well. Especially considering they only started learning the four part harmonies the week before the performance dates. I think josh looked slightly uncomfortable at the beginning of the song, which I understand as naturally Josh isn’t an as confident or experienced singer as Tom and Scott and therefore was bound to feel more uncertain in holding a harmony part on his own, however character wise it seems a little strange and inconsistent to have Josh’s character as the one who initiates singing that particular song when he comes across as so nervous singing it. Perhaps with a few more days rehearsal this wouldn’t have been a problem at all and Josh’s nerves and unease wouldn’t have been noticeable; however, another option could have been to give Scott the line about ‘the old school hymn’ as it seeks more
fitting for his pure and virtuous character to suggest a hymn.
The reaction from the audience when Harry stands up in a patriarchal way in an almost mocking way was priceless and I’m really pleased it got the laughter it did, as in rehearsal it was mentioned that it might be a step too far. Nevertheless because it was done with conviction and carried off in an almost tongue and cheek way I think it helped heighten the comedy and encourage the laughs from the audience.
The harmonies were relatively solid and he singing
I really liked the way they managed to find the balance between making the song fit the story and characters of the posh boys, as well as helping them meet the criteria as performance showcasing their talent. As I know this was a problem that the boys were struggling to find a solution to, as personally they felt their character’s would more likely take the Micky out of the song or be so drunk they wouldn’t be able to sing it, however by performing it with the heightened patriarchy and pride they manage to get across how much their heritage means to them, despite pretending to be indifferent. The addition of the ‘balls to the partner’ chorus before the hymn was perfect compromise between the boys original idea of wanting to sing the whole patience song in a raucous manner and the contrast between the two songs showed the two sides of the character’s. However I feel they could have maintained their ‘posh’ voices while singing this (despite the fact they were supposed to be taking the Micky).
Jack managed to create a great level of tension when he enters the stage as at jimmy half way through the patience hymn, and showed presence and ownership of the stage through the use of his body language and the large, slow strides he took to walk up to the platform to meet the posh boys and Jacks height definitely helped create this sense of authority.
Welcome to Hell
I can’t commend Lou and James enough for having managed to pull the ‘welcome to Hell sketch’ of as well as they did at such short notice and I could definitely see an improvement from the first performance as their confidence grew.
On the first night and in the tech and dress run, Lou had struggled with the pronunciation of ‘bielshbub’ and managed to say it wrong in performance, which was unfortunate as it is such a famous name that the majority of the audience would be familiar with. Nevertheless, Lou worked hard to make sure she wouldn’t make the same mistake in our second performance and so practiced saying the word throughout the day, and thankfully it paid off! As a cast member and someone who was well aware of her anxiety around messing this up, I did pick up on her slight hesitation before saying the word, however I am sure an audience member would not have noticed this at all!
The positive reactions and laughter from the audience definitely boosted them and helped fuel the performance and the energy of their delivery. Their comic timing was spot on, leaving enough time for the audience to take in what they were saying and receive the laughs but also moved on quick enough to keep a good swift pace. I thought James handled the whole thing really well, especially as I know it may have been a little out of his comfort zone, however he thrived in this piece and got to showcase a side of his acting I hadn’t seen before. I particularly commend him for the delivery and timing of the line ‘that’s just a little joke!’, as it would have been easy to skim over the gag (as it comes so quickly after an equally funny moment where the pair of them share a fake laugh). Moments such as these shared laughs between the pair were highlights and helped bring a sense of union between the two actors as it could have easily felt like they were both performing their own lines in isolation to one another without these.
Both of them showed clear characterisation work through their use of changing their tone of voices to an overly patronising tone (similar to the stereotype of holiday reps and tour guides they were basing their character’s on) which definitely heightened the comedy of the text even further. Lou really excelled in this and it made it easy to clearly differentiate between her part as ‘Jane’ and her part in this sketch as she employed a completely different vocal quality and body language.
Although there were a few moments where James slipped up with the pronunciation of his ‘th’ and ‘f’ sounds such as when he says the word ‘thieves’ I could notice an improvement from the beginning of the year when his articulation and RP voice was far weaker. Other than this, I feel both Lou and James were clear and articulate in their delivery, which helped add to the sickly sweet stereotypical ‘holiday rep’ character’s they had created.
I personally wasn’t sure as to whether this was intended to be a diegetic or none diegetic performance, and I had no time to query this due to its late insertion into the show; however on reflection I think the piece works and makes sense in both forms. Although I understand the sketch was introduced as an act and performed on the stage, I feel that due to the nature of the club being an extended metaphor for purgatory it would make perfect sense for the ‘audience’ at the club to be categorised depending on their sin. This could have been something with could have explored more if we had more time or if the piece had been proposed at the beginning of the process, especially as some of the crimes mentioned in the text are crimes characters in the show have committed (such as Ed the adulterer).
However, in this performance the direction was that Lou and James imagined the people they were grouping and addressing, and they showed this well by leaving appropriate gaps to receive ‘responses’ as well as showing us the movement of said people clearly with their own eye movement and focus. Nevertheless, I would have liked to have seen it done with real interactions with the actual audience or members of the cast to see whether it added anything to the performance.
As an actor on stage in the background while this piece was taking place I enjoyed reacting to the things they were saying and reflecting on these with the other waitresses. Especially when Lou references the adulterers, as I used this as an opportunity for Rose to acknowledge Eddy in a scornful way or share a glance with the other waitresses to emphasis the relevance of the text.
Jimmys linking speech before ‘St Joan’ was clear and to the point, however I feel he may have come across as more authoritative if he remained more grounded and stationary in his stature when speaking as I found the way in which he swayed from side to side and couldn’t keep still a little off putting. I am uncertain as to whether this was a conscious character choice of his or whether it was an acting tick he had developed due to feeling the need to ‘do’ something however I think by remaining grounded st jimmy would come across as stronger and more authoritative.
On another note, in st jimmys speech Jack had line where he included the waitresses by saying ‘she’s a regular here ain’t she girls?’, however as an actors on stage we were not directed as to how we were supposed to respond to this. Even though all three of us made the mutual decision to make casual replies amongst ourselves in response, as we were behind the bar which is in the far upstage corner, these were not audible from the audience and therefore lost. In hindsight perhaps we should have been louder in our replies, however I think we all worried it would sound forced and unnatural, consequently if we planned in advance we could have positioned ourselves further downstage at one of the tables slightly earlier so we could be seen and heard better.
Hannah’s st Joan monologue was delivered clearly and confidently, and got across the character’s motif well; however I think she could have emphasised this by adding some more vocal variety and interest to the speech with a wider a range of dynamics to help express the emotions, as it felt slightly flat and on one level. I can understand why she felt the need to deliver it the way she did, and she clearly got across the defiance and determination of the character however by delivering some of the lines in a softer manner it may have helped us as an audience to empathise with her more and make more of an impact on the sections where she put more attack and dynamic behind her words.
Once again I was on stage watching the act take place, and I thought it was important to make character informed decisions as to how Rose would react to type of performance on stage. I figured that because my character, Rose, is an intellectual person who is well educated and has aspirations beyond waitressing, she would really enjoy the culture and quality of a performance such as ‘Saint Joan’, as well as admiring the strong feminist power portrayed in the speech. Therefore I tried to reflect this in my reactions and body language while watching the performance. I decided to sit at a table instead of standing behind the bar and sat forward in my seat to show her engagement and awe of St Joan. In addition to this I subtly mouthed along to some of the words in the speech, as if Rose had watched it so many times she had memorised the words by heart. Admittedly this was probably not noticeable from an audience perspective, however it helped me become the character of Rose and made me feel I was portraying a 3 dimensional, believable character rather than a fabricated ideal. I also made the informed decision to not acknowledge any of the other waitresses or people on stage during this performance (unlike during most of the other cabaret acts) as I felt it would show how engaged and absorbed she was in the text and how she wouldn’t want anything to spoil or interrupt the experience.
Link scene between Jimmy and waitresses after St Joan
The exchange of dialogue between jack and myself seemed to be delivered well and got across the banter and light hearted relationship between the waitresses and jimmy, but also the strength of rose and how she isn’t afraid to challenge Jimmy’s remarks. I wasn’t expecting to get a laugh here from the audience however on watching it back I noticed we did receive a feel chuckles from the way we delivered these lines which is a reassurance as I originally feared we may have skimmed over these lines and thrown away the comedy.
After Jimmys line ‘ah feminista I bet you’re mothers proud of you’ there is an awkward silence as Harry is slow to pick up on his cue into the posh scene.
Posh Boys scene
I think the way in which the posh scene fit in context to the narrative arch and characters in ‘saints and sinners’ was seamless and proved how successfully we have managed to create a context where he whole scene made sense and could easily be mistaken as being written for the piece. From a directorial point of view I think the way in which the boys directly address st jimmy when talking about ‘the landlord’ makes the piece feel even more fitting and truthful, especially in the sense it helps establish the poor relationship between the posh boys and the landlord we had already created and shown in the patience hymn.
Josh worked really hard on his RP accent and pronunciation over the course of the rehearsal process and had to put in more work than the other members of the posh group as his natural speaking voice is the farthest from the RP. It was clear that josh had taken on the critique and advice given to him by peers and tutors to perfect this and speak with better diction and rounder vowels, however due to the amount of energy and character he was putting into his delivery of the dialogue, there were certain moments where quick responses and words got lost due to the pace it was delivered. One example of this is after Tom’s character says ‘let do something to fuck him up’ and Josh makes a comment to Scott’s character in response, however I am uncertain of what he is saying due to the speed at which he speaks.
Harry got a great response from the teddy bears picnic line, however I feel he missed the opportunity to receive another laugh from the line that follows it about ‘having already made the leaflets’; however he had already started the sentence when the audience hadn’t yet finished laughing which meant his line got trampled on and the audience missed the joke. This happens several times throughout this sketch and throughout the whole show, however it would easily rectified by pausing slightly and letting the laughter die down a little before starting the next line with good energy and clarity to show the audience that they are moving on and hopefully silence and reengage them.
I feel Scott managed portray the difference in his character and the other posh boys well through his facial expressions and responses as well as the fact he is positioned slightly further away from the other boys and is on the edge of the table nearer the audience. Yet, whether this is a coincidence or not I am uncertain, however when watching the scene from an external point of view I think this helped establish the dynamic and tension between Scott and the rest of the group.
Link scene between Waitresses and Jimmy pre Bring on the men
The link scene between st jimmy and the waitresses, after the posh boys scene, runs very smoothly and naturally, and the delivery of the lines are clear and projected, despite us being positioned behind the bar. I felt that Sian could have gone a bit further with characterising her line ‘I quite like them actually’ to get across the flirty and seductive side of her character rather than just delivering the line. I think I delivered my line ‘they are just posh little boys trying to be men’ clearly and and at a slow enough pace for the words to be taken in by the audience and show my character’s disgust. In this performance I was very much aware of the need to project and be as clear as possible as so many of our scenes take place behind the bar which is situated way up stage, and in the feedback in the tech run and at times in the first performance we were told some of the softer spoken lines were lost or difficult to hear.
Bring on the Men
While I feel this exchange of dialogue between jimmy and the waitresses sets up the next number ‘Bring on the Men’ well contextually, I think that in Jimmy’s introduction speech immediately before hand he should somewhere reference the waitresses or invite them or encourage them onto the stage, as it seems a little random and unnatural to go from having a conversation with them and then not acknowledge the fact they are about to sing about ‘men’ (the thing they have just been complaining about). Nevertheless, the way in which the ‘bring on the men’ dancers enter the stage in character (seductively and teasingly walking past the boys table) was really effective and helped set the scene for the number and gave the posh boys on stage something to play off.
As waitresses we were positioned on the platform and although we were blocked by the dancers a lot of the time we stayed in character throughout and created animated conversations amongst ourselves to fill the time when we weren’t singing. I decided to start of by playing it quite reluctantly as I felt my character of Rose probably wouldn’t be first to volunteer herself for something like performing on stage, as I see her as being more reserved and worried of embarrassing myself, and therefore in the run up to the song starting I resist slightly before giving in.
I think ‘Bring on the men’ went a lot better during this performance than the first showing, which is probably due to the fact we were more familiar with the changes that had been made prior to the show the night before. It was decided that instead of each of us singing our on verses, like originally planned, we would all sing in unison to help elevate the piece and add more energy, as well as a way of supporting Emma with the opening verse where she was off on her pitching.
Vocally I think this was the correct directorial decision, however I do disagree with the way in which we were directed to perform the number and so in this performance (after reviving audience feedback the night before) we decided that we would find a compromise. Due to the uncertainty of the backing track and the challenge of all signing together at the same time (in such a free and lyrical song) Lynn suggested that we played the scene as if our characters were uncertain and so directed us to turn into each other as if we were watching each other to stay in time. However, in my opinion (and the opinion of lots of the audience) was that it simply looked as if we as actors didn’t know what we were doing! Therefore I thought it would be best if we performed he majority of the song out to the audience, and had fun with the movements and seductiveness of the song, but acknowledged each other and shared moments of the songs together (like one would when performing in a group). We figured that if we did this on the trickier moments then it would help us stay in time, but also be less obvious and less likely to look like we are unprepared and lacking confidence as performers.
I felt a lot more at ease and a lot more in character when doing this, as it gave me the freedom to show my characters individual personality and not just blend in as a ‘generic waitress’, as well as giving me the chance to play off of the posh boys and other people in the club and the actual audience.
I think as a unit we were able to have a lot more fun with the number in today’s performance and although there were a few minor mishaps with timings this didn’t seem to matter as much as the energy and character in our performances made up for this.
We also made the mutual decision that while we were happy to sing the entire song in unison, each of us would take ownership for the verses we originally had, and that the key lines in Sian and I’s verses would remain as solos. I felt it was important as we had built our characters out of these lyrics and the lines such as Sian’s ‘I don’t know why they say that I’m too easy’ and my ‘I supposed a rose by any other name the perfume and the pricks the same’ were so suited to our individual characters situations and helped portray these qualities to the audience. I felt the song ‘Bring on the men’ helped Sian apply her character’s flirtatious personality well and gave her the opportunity to go a bit further with her characterisation than she felt comfortable doing in the scripted scenes (where at times I feel she held back). She especially managed to show this flare of
I tried to get across my character’s negative attitude towards men and the way they treat women in the tone of my voice and attack and bite I put on words such as ‘sick’ and ‘prick’ to portray Rose’s disgust and anger. Watching the performance back I feel that I managed to carry this off well and clearly got across the emotional subtext of the lyrics for my character and showed how her views contested from the other waitresses.
Although we were all supposed to be singing the bridge section that I originally had as a skill, when watching the footage back it seemed that it was only my voice that carried – whether or not this is because the other two were not as confident singing the higher notes or because they forgot to sing I do not know, however I think this worked to my advantage and made better sense n terms of our characters and the narrative.
Admittedly, my voice wasn’t as strong as it would normally have been, having just finished a weeks run of ‘Bonnie and Clyde The Musical’ where I had to belt some big numbers back to back throughout the show, as well as having been on vocal rest throughout that period due to excessive use of my voice as well as illness. Nevertheless I managed to get through the song and found a way of singing the higher notes without straining my voice or sounding too shaky or weak despite using my head voice at times rather than belting like I usually would. This was particularly noticeable on the last note which although by this point the whole group (including the dancers) were supposed to be singing, the sound sounded a lot thinner and weaker which made the ending slightly underwhelming. Furthermore, the dancers who took on the chant like counter part that goes over the top of the last note (‘Big men small men, tall men short men, I guess that means almost all men, I’m a player long as they are, men, men, men!’) was very difficult to decipher and sounded like a blur of sound rather than being able to hear and understand the words. This is a shame as the lyrics of this final chant capture the underlying message and cheek of the whole song and help raise the energy and dynamic to the end, and could easily have been achieved if they had spent some more time going over it as a unit. In their defence the words are almost like a tongue twister, in the sense that there are so many words to get out at a rapid pace (many of which are very similar sounding) and therefore it would be easy for them to fall out of time with each other or stumble on words. However from my understanding many of the dancers only learnt their counter part at the last minute which meant they didn’t have time to polish and perfect it or think how it might sound from an audiences view. Moreover, if they would have found time during their rehearsal warm ups to practice speaking this as a tongue twister, focusing on over annunciating the diction and gradually increasing the speed of the delivery, I am sure they would have felt far more confident and achieved a more polished and clear performance.
During the rehearsal process for bring on the men lots of the notes and feedback given were to do with the dancers characterisation and need to involve their faces more when performing as at times they looked disengaged or like they were concentrating on the movements. Thankfully by the time of the second performance the majority dancers were confident enough with the choreography to act there way through the dance and reflect the sultry choreography in their characterisation. Several of the dancers stood out to me in this performance as achieving this such as Faye and Jess who used their faces to express the mood of the song throughout and performed each movement with expression and intent. Zoe also stood out to me at certain moments in the routine for her energy and conviction, however it wasn’t as consistent as Faye and Jess who are more confident and familiar with performing musical theatre styles. Vicky looked the most comfortable of the group during the opening sections where the dancers had to interact with the posh boys and other audience members, however I felt that her strong characterisation dropped slightly when it came to the actual routine.
The posh boys’ adlibbing throughout the song, in this particular performance, really helped add atmosphere and a sense of realism to the number and reminded the audience that the character’s who are customers at the club are also watching the same cabaret act. I think the boys managed to find the correct balance and moments to speak out over the song and not overpower or distract from the action happening on stage. The remarks they were making were fitting of their characters, both individually and as a whole unit of posh boys; which although sounds like a given, it actually shows solid and consistent characterisation as it is easy to fall into the trap of simply calling out general remarks that are fitting and expected due to the tone of the song, rather than remaining true to your individual character. For example, Scott’s character, James, is less vocal which is fitting to his character who wouldn’t be inclined to objectify woman as much as the others. Whereas, Harry’s character, Ed, who is probably the most vulgar of them all appears to be the most vocal of the group and the comments he makes to taunt and tease Scotts character refer back to context we see happen in the course of the narrative and thus help create further depth to the character’s and story.
While the whole performance of ‘Bring on the Men’ grew with each rehearsal I still feel it had the potential to be a bigger and more energetic and dynamic number which would have clearly ended act one. However I personally don’t think we quite achieved this in either of the performances, which may have caused a slight ambivalence as to whether there was more to come or if the act was coming to a close. Although the addition of St Jimmy’s line after the song instructing the audience to ‘take 15’ helped signify this, I think if the final number in the act had been stronger it would have made the conclusion of the act more exciting and definite.
Furthermore something I didn’t even consider before watching the footage back was how the posh boys get up to go back to their table as soon as the number finishes (as one naturally would), however they don’t make the move to sit back down while jimmy is speaking; which although as actors is the sensible thing to do as it causes less fuss on preparing to exit the theatre for the interval, as characters and part of the cabaret club audience they would not yet be aware of the upcoming interval and would be made aware at exactly the same time as our point audience. For this reason I wonder whether the posh boys should have remained seated until jimmy informs the audience of the interval and then exit at the same time as our actual audience, to help strengthen that idea of the seated audience being an extension of the customers at the club.
St Jimmy’s opening speech
Once again Jimmy’s speech that opens act 2 sets up the concept and underlying message of the club in a creative metaphorical way. Jack maintains his mysterious, ‘jack the lad’ type character throughout, although I wonder if he could have explored more dynamic range as lots of his speeches do start to feel quite monotonous after a while. Nevertheless he deserves to be seriously commended for his ability to memorise and deliver these linking speeches with such confidence and presence especially considering the extreme short notice at which these were written and added to the piece. The way in which he directs questions to specific members of the audience had exactly the effect we as a cast wanted – making them feel vulnerable and slightly awakened and therefore responding with delayed laughter.
Link scene between Maddie and Rose
The short scene between myself, Emma and Jimmy at the beginning of the act got an excellent response and due to the comic timing of my line ‘No it’s not’ and jimmy’s response ‘Jesus christ’. This is a moment that has definitely grown and come to life over the two performances which helped us find the comedy in it that we may have ignored before. When writing the scene I must admit the exchange of dialogue between jimmy and the girls was initially a way of steering the conversation to allow Rose to complain about Ed and how Lulu was flirting etc, however when learning how the audience reacted at the first performance we were able to make more of the moment. As well as jacks excellent comic timing, I think I helped add to this through my exasperated facial expressions, body language and overly dramatic tone of voice which captures the way in which women stereotypically throw things out of proportion or bring things up specially so they can express their disapproval or get advice. As well as this it plays on the typically British concept of asking how someone is in passing and expecting to receive a straightforward ‘fine thanks’ or ‘good’ out of politeness, however when someone actually answers the question it is completely unexpected and often inconvenient. The combination of these two aspects as well as the massive contrast between Emma’s overly enthusiastic response as Maddie and Rose’s pessimistic answer brought the script to life and was a great of example of how an audience can help lift a moment and make it more than it originally was.
Similarly with the chat between Maddie (emma) and Rose (me) that follows immediately after; before having a live audience this conversation was always a little weak and there were times where we even considered whether it should remain in the script at all. However, once on the set and with the audiences responses to lift the scene and boost our confidence the scene came alive and fulfilled its comic potential. During the rehearsal process Emma and I found it difficult to play the scene and time our reactions as lots of it relied on responding to actions between Lulu (Sian) and the posh boys on the opposite side of. E stage. However, Sian often forgot to sit on Harry’s lap or flirt with him in an overly exaggerated way at the correct moment which meant that Maddie’s like ‘Maybe she’s just taking an order….maybe not?’ didn’t make sense in the context and therefore seemed irrelevant. Thankfully, by the final performance we had perfected the timing and Sian remembered to make contact with Harry (although perhaps not as deliberately or noticeably as she could have). Emma delivered the line perfectly, getting across her character’s naive optimism and sweetness and then contrasting this with the falling tune in her voice on admitting defeat when saying ‘maybe not’. The afterthought at the end of the line was actually a later addition to help emphasis and direct the audience to Sian at the other end of the starve flirting with the boys, as we worried it would get lost if not – Emma and I also assisted this by leaning towards them as of watching closer, in an attempt to direct the audiences focus to this action on stage right.
Link leading into Jane and Maddie’s conversation
Lou was slightly late in crossing the stage to start her scene with Emma, which meant my cue to say ‘look who’s coming over…what’s that jimmy I’m coming’ was delayed, leaving a stagnant pause as we waited for her to enter and thus slowing the pace and flow of the scene. The note about picking up on cues and not letting there be gaps in dialogue or movement was given to the entire cast after the dress run as it had slowed the pace down enormously and I also reiterated this after the first performance – adding that it wasn’t just lines that people needed to be quick on but entries, exits and moving to the right place for the right time. While it may seem only a small irrelevant thing it does in fact cause a relay of consequences and can affect the dynamics in a scene behind that initial awkward pause. I don’t think it helped that there was not a vast length of stage for Lou to cross, meaning all the action had to take place on a exceedingly short amount of time and so the reactions and responses had to be rushed and take place unrealistically quickly. Out of my attempt to play the scene as naturally as possible I made the decision to watch and notice Lou make the decision to come over before saying the line and signify Rose’s escape to leave. However I fear that I may have left this longer than required and by the time I had finished the line Lou was already at our end of the stage, directly behind Emma and I, meaning Jane would have been able to hear exactly what Rose was saying!
Nevertheless, on watching the footage I actually enjoyed the sporadic and desperate energy it created in my actions and voice which emphasised the urgency of Rose’s attempt to leave. While this was not a problem that arose at this point in the show on the opening night or our dress or tech run, perhaps if Lou took a longer route to the bar or gave some kind of signal to show us that she was about to make her way over, we may have avoided this dilemma.
Maddie and Jane Scene
I feel Lou’s character Jane finally came alive during this final performance and she managed to tie together and find a compromise between the characterisation she was showing in the link scenes and the version of Jane she was presenting in the extract of Jane Eyre. It was pointed out by Lynn a day or so before we opened the show (and again after the opening night) that Lou’s characterisation and portrayal of Jane was inconsistent and constantly changing throughout the course of the performance depending on who she was interacting with. It was noted that she was playing her extract of Jane Eyre with a perfectly RP accent and a certain presence, however in the link scenes and in her background action she resorted back to herself or a younger more childlike state. Helena even went on to express that as an audience member she had no idea why Harry’s character Ed would choose to have Jane rather than Rose, when Jane was being portrayed as so inferior via Lou’s characterisation and choice of costume. While Lou’s choice of costume for Jane was not changed, she obviously put a lot of work into figuring out who her character really is by the time it got to this show. Lou decided she would maintain the composure and authority of her version of Jane she shows in the duologue by sustaining a clear RP accent throughout – giving the impression Jane is of the same social class as Ed and Rose (and therefore a plausible match). On deciding to use the refined voice RP voice, it seemed that Lou was able to find a more solid portrayal of her character in terms of physicality and facial expression as well, which she carried off particularly well in this scene between Emma and herself. It also complimented the way in which the script was written as the conversation is built upon Jane cutting off and interrupting Maddie to get information and explain her side of the story, which works perfectly with Jane having a higher status and presence and only seemed needy and pushy when Lou was playing it in a younger and weaker manner.
In addition to this, by playing Jane with slightly more class and authority it helped create some comedy out of the conversation, as it captured the impertinence and instance of stereotypical middle or upper class person who asks questions but leaves no time to receive a response – which I’m sure many of the audience could relate to!
The only piece of constructive criticism I would give Lou regarding the improvements she made to her characterisation is to be careful about swallowing lines or being too quiet when talking in her clipped accent as there were several moments that words got lost (especially as she was positioned far up stage at the bar where sound appears to be lost).
Sophia stepped in to the role of leading the melodrama after one of our original cast members, Daytona, was removed from the show at the last minute due to various circumstances. While Sophia had been reading in the part in some of the rehearsals prior to this decision being made, there’s no doubting that it was a big ask and added pressure to learn the extra lines on top of everything she was already in, she managed to pull it off. Sophia made the decision to create a new character for the purposes of the melodrama to differentiate between her earlier feature as the lesbian couple.
While her costume change helped indicate this change, she managed to make some subtle changes to her voice and body language to help demonstrate she was a new character, however I believe she could have gone further with this and developed a character that was further a way from her actual personality.
The way in which the script for the melodrama was written required the character’s to be overly bubbly and drunk enough to willingly reenact the love triangle. However, up until the week before the show the whole melodrama scene seemed completely out of place and forced as the characters weren’t being played big enough or with enough energy; as the writer of the melodrama script I was initially quite disappointed and a little frustrated as I knew exactly how I had envisioned the scene playing out in my head and knew that it would work and could be achievable if the actors would just let go and have fun with it.
Leah Smith, who takes on the role of impersonating the character Jane, is very difficult to understand due to her lack of diction and her extremely fast paced delivery of lines, therefore lots of the comedic moments were missed or skimmed over as they were lost in her slurring. As well as this I felt the character lacked the boldness and energy needed top carry off the satirical nature of the melodrama piece and to bring it alive. On the other hand, James (who is impersonating Rose) really rose to the occasion and brought huge amounts of energy and fun to the scene. While his acting was not entirely perfect and was slightly forced and unnaturalisitc, there is no denying the fact that he took on the direction he was given and boosted the whole scene with his presence. On the opening night there were some moments where James adlibbed lines that got such a good response from the audience that we decided to keep them in for the second performance in the hope that we would get the same response: For example when he approaches the costume box and sees the wig and exclaims ‘Do I have to be the girl’ and then later he switches on the light on his cap and says ‘Lights on’. Another moment I thought James pulled off well on both nights was the comedy timing of the line ‘We will live together for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever’ line as it required him to pause just long enough between the last two repetitions for the audience to think he had finished and thus get the laugh. Sophia played her role in the melodrama well, although it wasn’t how I imagined when writing the script, as I was envisioning the characters to be playing out the scene due to their drunkenness whereas Sophia seemed to have taken the angle of the character being more sincere and genuine in her idea; this came across in her clear and precise speech which suggested authority and pride over her idea to create the melodrama. One improvement I think they could have made as a whole group would be to play the scene for truth and differentiate between the moments they are speaking as their characters and the moments where they are playing hyperbolic versions of Rose, Ed and Jane;as the bits of speech and laughter in between felt equally as pretend and forced as the ‘scene’ they were playing out.
I took on the advice of Lynn regarding mine and Lou’s background acting during the melodrama not being as distracting and to not instigate the idea of our characters hating each other as she felt that it would be more appropriate and empowering if our characters hated Ed rather than each other. So instead of exchanging cold glances across the bar with Lou I showed my aggravation towards Maddie for initiating the whole melodrama mockery as well as those acting out the melodrama. I emphasised this by picking up the costume box at the end of the scene and carrying it off, whilst making adlibbed comments at Maddie to show how I was hurt and would rather be left alone.
Vicky’s swan dance was equally as good on each of the performance nights, and I felt she captured the
Posh link scene after Swan dance
The pick up between the swan dance and the dialogue between the Posh boys was really swift and natural which helped the show keep its pace and maintain the energy. I felt Scott portrayed the tension and annoyance between his character James and the rest of the Posh boys well, and did so with a sense of maturity and power that I hadn’t noticed before, however I think since giving his character more of a backstory based on faith and religion it helped give him superiority and a reason to feel empowered by his differences rather than trampled on. I worked closely with Scott on developing this character backstory when writing the script and inserted the lines referring to him being catholic and I definitely believe these elements helped lift the scene and make it clearer to an audience why James is isolated in this way.
At first I was apprehensive about the action the boys added on the line ‘she has got you whipped mate’ as I thought it might look immature and cheesy; however on watching it back I must admit it captured the laddishness of the posh boys perfectly and highlighted the maturity gap between them and James. Moreover, the reaction from the audience proved that it was a highly comical moment which they pulled off well.
Link scene between James and Emma
The positioning of the scene was slightly awkward as the table where Leah and James were sat was directly in front of where Scott and Emma were – making it difficult to see them clearly. While we tried to rectify this problem prior to our second performance (after receiving feedback on the tables blocking some of the action behind the bar) it appears it didn’t resolve the situation completely.
Unfortunately the moment where Jess’s character bumps into James (Scott) was slightly mistimed in this performance which meant it may have been lost, depending on the sight lines from the audience. Obviously this was an important moment as it established the plot line that fuels James’ song ‘Hellfire’ later in the act, and therefore it would have been stronger if the action could have taken place centre stage rather than cramped up behind the bar. The timing of this moment is something that Jess and Scott struggled with throughout the rehearsal process and while they achieved it on occasion this may have been down to sheer luck.
Link scene between Waitresses and Jimmy about Jane
Just as I did in the first performance, I decided to position myself on the opposite side of the stage to Emma so that it wasn’t so cramped around the bar and so it didn’t feel as awkward and unnatural being so close to her and initiating a conversation when Rose is supposed to be annoyed with Maddie still. In addition to this I thought that practically it would be more logical (in terms of sight lines) for us to meet in the middle rather than drag Maddie to centre stage to start the conversation, like we did in the tech run and other rehearsals prior to this.
I am unsure why it happened, however I made the silly mistake of stumbling on a line and saying my own characters name instead of ‘Jane’ when referring to her, which I am still kicking myself about. Nevertheless, I tried to remain calm and get myself out of it by staying in character and simply adding ‘I mean that girl’, in the hope that the audience might not notice my mistake. While the whole situation was not ideal at all, I know I did all I could to rectify the situation by not drawing attention to the mistake or dropping out of character or showing my annoyance on my face when it happened. Nevertheless, we managed to get through the rest of the scene without any more mishaps or confusion – unlike the opening night when several lines were missed and St Jimmy ended up directing his line ‘about being like water in the dessert’ at Rose instead of Maddie after Sian’s line ‘I’ve given up trying with Maddie’ was skipped which out of context didn’t really make sense. On the other hand, in this performance everything ran smoothly and so we were able to focus on our characterisation and performance of the scene, bringing in to play some of the moments we had developed on in the dress run and rehearsals running up to the show. I thought Rose would most likely react to Jimmy’s remark with sarcasm or in a playfully mocking way to link back to the banterful relationship between Jimmy and the waitresses established early on in the show. Therefore I thought it would be fitting of my character to mime along to St Jimmy’s Italian spiel behind his back as if she had heard him say it a million times before. I was worried that by acting in the background it might distract from Jack’s dialogue, or seem too over the top and unnatural, however watching the footage back I think it fitted my character perfectly and think it complimented and added a sense of comedy to Jimmy’s line and helped direct the audience in how they should react.
Naturally my voice is quite soft and quiet and with the voice I was using for Rose, alongside recovering from an overtired voice, it became more of problem than usual and several of my lines were difficult to hear due to my volume. Although this wasn’t a consistent problem in the show and was most prominent when I had scenes positioned farther upstage as my voice had further to travel, I wish I would have found a strategy to achieve a balance between projected my voice enough to be heard without losing the softness and gentle but dry tone I use for Rose’s character. This point in the show was one of the most obvious moments where I would have had to implement this as I feel I dropped the volume even more because of the emotion and upset fueling the scene.
Man of the moment pre scene
Unfortunately footage of the link scene leading up to the man of the moment wasn’t available so I wasn’t able to watch my performance back, however from my recollection the scene played out just as well as it did on the opening night. I really enjoyed performing my opening line to the scene: ‘Do you know what I’m fed up of all the men in here…actually I’m fed up of all men. End of’ as I felt it captured the character of Rose beautifully and with each time we performed the show (including tech and dress runs) I was able to push my characterisation and play around with the emphasis of the words until I found the right tonal quality to make the sentence sound naturalistic while still maintaining the energy needed to instigate a new scene. Before the stagger through run the line was scripted as ‘I’m fed up of all men – Period’, however Lynn felt this was too American and very unlike Rose and so I had to change it to something more suitable. It was originally suggested that it should be full stop, however I felt this was too basic and didn’t have enough attack or intent behind it to make the impact I wanted, and so after trying out several variations on the word I settled on ‘End of’. Although on each night the way in which I said the sentence was slightly varied, I felt that I managed to get across Rose’s frustration and passion through my vocal tone each time.
As a unit we provided enough energy to fill the gap between Leah walking over to the other side of the stage to give Jordan the memory stick and the video actually playing, by adlibbing among ourselves about the video and whether or not we believed her claim to have met a man who hadn’t had sex for 15 years. I also made sure to position myself so that I didn’t block the screen where the film was projected or cast a shadow over the projection.
Man of the Moment
The Man of the moment sketch itself was one of the highlights for me as I felt the acting in it was spot on and the use of showing this in another media form added variety and interest to the show as a whole. I thought it was a great opportunity to show of Josh’s ability as a character actor and how he could take on several contrasting parts and use his characterisation of voice and body language to clearly differentiate between them. In this piece Josh took on the role of a dorky middle aged man who claimed to be happily married yet has no sex life. Despite Josh actually being only 18 years old by changing his physicality by hunching over and sticking his head slightly forward, and changing his voice to a lower and more nasal, drowning tone, alongside the help of his costume of a gaudy knitted jumper, round glasses and packed lunch prop, he was able to transform himself into this stereotype. As well as this certain character traits Josh did such as trying to talk down to the microphone, scrunching his nose, the slight stutter to his voice and the double takes he takes to the camera helped bring the character to life and captured the comedy in the scene. The innocence and ‘aged before his time’ like character Josh had created very much reminded me of the character Derek played by the actor and comedian Ricky Gervais.
Leah, who played Jill the reporter in the filmed piece, did well too and was on the most part clear and slow enough in her delivery that those watching were able to hear and understand what she was saying in the scene. Leah had taken on the advice given in the rehearsal process regarding her characterisation of the presenter, suggesting that played upon the stereotype of a presenter who loves themselves and sees themselves of more of a star than they really are. I feel Leah demonstrated this with the take she does to the camera after she says ‘I’m sure you have heard of me’. I would have liked to see Leah carry on this vain, fame loving character carry through into the other on stage scenes more rather than falling back in to the comfort of her own personality.
Posh boys Dogfight
I thought Scott got across his character’s reluctance yet sense of duty to involve himself in the dogfight bet well by expressing his lack of enthusiasm via the weightiness of his movement to put the money on the table and the lack of energy in his voice – which is something that wasn’t there when we first started rehearsals but as Scott’s character developed over time he was able to making character informed choices about how he might behave differently to the others and moments like these were established by the time of the performance dates and carried off with confidence.
One of the pieces of feedback given to Harry by Lynn after the first show was how he should pause for a moment before choosing ‘Rose’ as the person he challenges George (Tom) to ask out, as if Ed was deliberating the idea before suggesting it. Thankfully Harry remembered to take on board this note for our second performance and I think it definitely made it seem more realistic, as well as building a greater sense of tension and rivalry between George and Ed, and in the process making the audience dislike Ed even more.
Dogfight Come to a Party
I was really pleased with how the whole ‘come to a party’ scene went in our second performance, and although Tom mucked up a few words in one of the verses it wasn’t noticeable and didn’t hinder our performance in any way. I think we both delivered a better performance on the second night as we proved to ourselves that we could get though the entire song without it falling apart the night before and so could relax and focus on our characterisation and performance instead of worrying about the timing of the backing track and such.
The singing went really well from my point of view, and we managed to fit in the spoken dialogue into the correct gaps in song without missing any entries or delivering the dialogue too fast in our attempt to do so. Admittedly we had to make some further amendments to the text in order to get it to fit as even by the dress run we were stumbling over entries and weren’t managing to fit the full passages of dialogue in. However we found a way of it working for us without feeling forced or unnatural and got to a point where the singing came out of the speech and visa versa without sounding out of place or too musical theatre. In Tom’s case, having the main verses in the song, he was able to sing through the music, however I had the challenge of finding a balance between the speech sing quality, spoken lines and actually singing, which was very difficult to do smoothly – however in watching the performance back I was quite pleased with how I pulled it off as in my head I had thought it might sound out of place and forced when I randomly dipped in and out of speaking and singing lines. I am usually extremely critical of myself and my performance, however I genuinely think I pulled off my part in this song better than I expected and am quite pleased with the outcome and can see that my ability to act through song naturally has come a long way.
The movement felt a lot more natural and freer than in the tech and dress run (where we were on the stage for the first time and still trying to negotiate around the set and adapt our planned blocking to fit the stage and make sure we remained lit) and also the first performance (where we were simply trying to remember what we had decided on in our short session where we worked on blocking an hour or two before the show and pull it off the best we could). Once we had the rough geography of the blocking we were able to let our characterisation dictate how and when we moved and react how we felt they naturally would in that situation. I felt like I was less sporadic in my moving about the stage in an attempt to get away and clean tables and such – which I was doing in rehearsals and the dress run, as I thought it would show how Rose wasn’t interested, however I realised that this was probably distracting and that it didn’t give Rose the opportunity to actual listen to what George was saying, and therefore I decided to slow down and allow the thoughts to register before reacting on them. By doing this I felt it definitely helped me give a more natural and truthful performance and helped me in the moment more and create a more intense chemistry between George and Rose.
I wasn’t aware how much I use facial expressions to express my characterisation on stage, however in watching the footage back I noticed that it was definitely prevalent and in fact added a lot of comedy to the piece and made my character, Rose slightly less cold and a little more likeable as it showed the audience her more awkward and vulnerable side. I tended to show this awkwardness and slight fear of being approached by a guy through grimaces and embarrassed smiles, glances to the side where the other waitresses were (in an attempt to get their attention), slowly sliding away from him when he got too close and showing the reactions to lines he sings by widening my eyes etc. Notwithstanding this I still managed to keep Rose’s authority and need to be in control in the moments where George went to grab her and pull her in and I responded by peeling him off of me or slowly moving away. I thought it would be more fitting if I did actions like this in a more gentle and tentative way so that she didn’t come across as rude, as well as suggesting the idea that Rose really likes the idea of George taking interest and showing affection to her but doesn’t want to show it out of pride and commitment to her morals and ideas of men being bad news. I hope this came across in my performance from an outsiders perspective and that it made Rose more empathetic to an audience when she later finds out it was all a joke and only for a bet.
Another one of our notes from the tech rehearsal, which we both also thought we could improve on more from the first performance, was making sure that Tom and I were not too comfortable and familiar with each other during the song in terms of touching and closeness, because naturally after 2 years of playing the romantic leads together and playing the passionate lovers Bonnie and Clyde just a few days before this show we fell into the habit of being too relaxed with each other, to the point that it looked like Rose and George already knew each other and had a past history. Therefore for this performance Tom and I made even more of an effort to be aware of how close we were to each other and only touching when it was necessary to do so (such as on the spin) and in a way that wasn’t so familiar. In my opinion I think we made improvements on this with each performance and in the end the whole scene had a truthful and natural feel.
The Mr Sloane stand up comedy piece was in my opinion one of the best moments in the show and I loved the way Josh owned the stage when he entered and came across as so natural and at ease when moving around the space and connecting with the audience members. Josh created this persona of a slightly psycho comedian who could quickly change moods without warning, and although this came through in rehearsals it wasn’t until we had a live audience to play off that he was able to go further and play around with how eye contact and pauses could help lift the level of awkwardness and unease in the room that would make the audience want to laugh. Josh established his new character vocally by using an estuary accent to show his roughness as well as rapidly changing the speed and dynamics of his delivery to show Sloane’s sporadic and unpredictable personality and catch the audience by surprise. The way in which he contrasted this with the wide eyed softness that underlined some of the lines such as ‘It wasn’t my fault, he must have had a weak heart’ added a sense of eeriness to the character and made him almost likeable despite his uncertainty and manic portrayal.
During the act the other waitresses and I positioned ourselves on one of the tables to watch Sloane’s performance and shared looks of distaste and disbelief at what he was saying, and then when once he had finished we initiated the very slow and awkward ripple of applause to show how we were still perplexed by what we had seen and were clapping out of duty rather than enjoyment. By leading the applause in this way and reacting in character throughout, we were able to lead the actual audience in how they should react to Josh’s performance, as they could see our reactions clearly as we were also on stage. This is important as sometimes in pieces like this, audience members feel slightly awkward as they don’t know whether they are allowed to laugh and sometimes take a while to understand whether the uneasiness of it is intentional or not.
Take me to church
The dancers ‘Take me to Church’ routine was generally very slick and performed with conviction, however there were times where one or two members of the group would be slightly out of time with the rest of them by a fraction of beat, or wouldn’t drop to the floor at the same time or an extension of the arm wouldn’t be carried on to the same beat, which made it look slightly messy at times. Nevertheless, the expression and emotion behind the movements made this almost irrelevant and unnoticeable. I thought Zoe performed her solo moment in the cannon section beautifully in this performance and she showed true passion and expression in the elongation of her arms when circling round in the spring step movement and the way in which her chest opened up and her head was raised and her eye gaze followed the length of her extensions. In all the times I had watched the dance routine (which by this point was quite a few) the dancers hadn’t managed to get the timing of the split leap coming forward in the line followed by the fall to the floor and the kick up in time, however in this final performance they managed it perfectly. Each of the dancers landed and ascended on exactly the same beat which gave the impression of the whole group moving as one unit rather than four individual dancers performing the same routine.
Link scene between James and George
Scott and Tom established the status and objective of their characters from the beginning of the scene and although Scott’s character James naturally came across as inferior to the other posh boys due to being outnumbered during the majority of the show, there were moments in this scene where I felt the status of the characters shifted – whether or not this was deliberate or not I do not know. I felt that by this point in the show Scott had started to play James with more defiance and sureness in himself which have him a slightly higher status and authority in the scene. Scott portrays James’ frustration in his screwed up facial expression and the way in which he flinches away from George when he comes close to him or tries to make contact. Moreover, the way in which Tom was playing George becoming increasingly drunk as the night gave him a slight vulnerability that I didn’t notice before, lowering his status slightly. However Tom manages to re-instigate this by playing his final line in a patronising way and ruffling Scott’s hair as he leaves.
Scott’s performance of ‘Hellfire’ was just as good on both the opening and second night, and I definitely think that the truth and characterisation in his performance improved copious amounts once he had established a solid backstory for James and by this being based on religion it gave the song better context and therefore Scott was able to justify why his character would be so pushed to express his frustration so vivaciously. Scott’s singing was strong and has improved masses over the last 2 years in terms of vocal range and tonal quality, and over the rehearsal process of Saints and Sinners he appears to have also grown in confidence in his abilities, as originally Scott was refusing to sing the piece out of fear that it was too high for him. As someone who has worked with Scott in various singing groups outside of college I know his voice very well and have watched it develop over some time now and when watching this footage back I noticed that Scott no longer strains to hit the higher notes as much as he used to and as a result he doesn’t produce the throaty sound he used to – instead the high belt sound a lot more open and unforced. There were some moments where Scott was slightly under a note, however I am sure from an audience perspective this was not noticeable at all, and was just something I picked up on due to my musical background. I know that the idea was that the song is James’ inner monologue and he is watching the vision of the dancer girl before him, however I wonder if Scott could have taken the opportunity to play some of these moments out to the audience more, as if you think about it in a soliloquy (which is technically also an inner monologue) the actor would traditionally share these thoughts with the audience despite them being private thoughts.
Jess’s dancing was really strong and polished throughout and I felt the choreography captured the subtle sultry teasing and taunting through the outreached movements and slow slides down into splits, however I wonder if she could have made more of a differentiation in the movements she used in the section where she is James’ vision rather than the actual performer. I only suggest this as I feel it would show on another level (in addition to the red lighting) that James’ head is heightening all he saw and bringing it alive in his fantasy. Jess could perhaps have made the first section of the routine less daring and more refined and innocent and then in the second section manipulated these moves into more heightened and fantasised versions. Nevertheless, Jess’ execution of the dance was flawless, she used the space efficiently and performed the movements expressively.
The cast members on stage remembered the notes given to us regarding when we should move and where our focus should be at various points in the song, which we were reminded of after the first show as some cast members forgot on the decision we made to slow down the movement and freeze and so continued to move throughout which was very distracting and noticeable. Thankfully everyone remembered in this performance and I must say the effect was really powerful and set the atmosphere well.
Link song – Hallelujah I love her so
This song was added last minute, during the dress run, as a way of filling time so that Jess could change costume ready for her next number ‘Poison Apple’ as the change took longer than we first anticipated. Tom suggested that he filled the time by singing and playing something on the guitar as at this point he is playing his performer character, Clive, and would be accompanying Sophia and Jess in the next song anyway so it would make sense. The song Tom picked was ‘Hallelujah I love her so’ which Lynn suggested he sang to Lulu to refer back to the flirtation between the pair that was shown at the beginning of the show. In the first show this chemistry wasn’t as noticeable however by the time of the last performance I felt that both of them were familiar enough with the new change that they could make eye contact and become their characters more.
I was really uncertain about how this song would come together before it came to the performance as I had sat in some of their private rehearsals and so I new the struggles they faced and how they had to rework some of the harmonies so that it would hold together. Sophia had struggled with the pitching and timing of her verse up until the week before the show, and even though she had been practising lots it seemed that it wouldn’t stay in her head or she was simply unaware that what she was singing wasn’t always the right tune. However in this performance she managed to hold the tune throughout her verse well and only hit one note slightly under, which wasn’t too much of a problem. Tom was originally just supposed to be playing guitar however in the end he supported Sophia by singing some of the harmonies in the chorus, which was really useful and held the song together well vocally. From a performance perspective I think Sophia and Jess could have gone a lot further with characterising as I very much felt like they were being themselves, however I appreciate that they had made lots of improvements in connecting to the text and finding the emotion in the song and applying that to the situation in our story line – something they were definitely not achieving before show week. From watching the footage of our final performance I can see that Jess started the sung by connecting to Sophia and smiling at her in a reassuring way and singing the words of the song as if it was advice. However I don’t think she carried this idea through the whole song, and feel that she perhaps got caught up in the enjoyment of singing the song as Jess to an audience rather than using the song as a monologue and creating a scene from it. I would have liked to have seen more contact and eye contact between the pair to establish a connection between the characters and make the scene feel more natural and come alive, and while hints of this was starting to come through in this performance I don’t think they quite reached that stage. While the song ended up sounding beautiful and I really enjoyed the blend of voices and warmth of stage I think this was them as performers rather than their characters.
St Jimmy’s link Speech introducing love triangle
Jane Eyre scene
Once again the full footage of Lou and Harry’s Jane Eyre scene wasn’t available so I can not give an in depth analysis however I will comment on some of my observations on their performance. In my opinion the whole dynamic of the piece changed in tonight’s performance in comparison to the previous night and the rehearsals prior to this, since Lou amended her characterisation of Jane to this stronger, more empowered personality. Previous to this Jane came across as love struck and soppy due to her softness and younger presence, which then made her decision to leave Edward at the end of the piece more out of the blue. However on giving Jane a more definite and grounded voice, it raised her authority and so the character immediately came across as stronger and as though she’s made her decision well before the conversation starts and will not be persuaded. Lou approaches the text with a tone of optimism on the lines about ‘look[ing] to God’, which before sounded naive and like Jane was convincing herself still, however with this new characterisation made it sound like she was more of his equal and had the power to give him advice. Although I think this worked really well in terms of the Jane Eyre scene and the acting was strong and truthful I think there was a big gap in the narrative that misses out the turning point for Jane and when she realises that she has had enough and won’t stand being messed around. This is no discredit to Harry or Lou as this was a script writing and narrative flaw, and had I noticed it before I would have happily written a short extract where Jane makes this decision as I think it would have made more sense for the audience as well as helping Lou make that jump character wise. On the other hand, I do think that this might have only become relevant since character change was made and considering this only happened after the first performance, it wouldn’t have been doable anyway.
While I felt Lou’s performance intensified and thus became more truthful I felt that Harry’s became slightly more forced and stagnant in this show in comparison to the previous night and how I had seen him play the scene so many times before. Now I think this may be a subconscious reaction to receiving the feedback of playing the scene too much on a ‘screen acting scale’ rather than the level required for stage, and in the process of ranking this up he lost some of the truth, naturalism and intimacy he had created so easily before this. I know Harry enjoys the truth and rawness of emotion one can find when performing in close confinements and on a smaller scale, like one would for television, however unfortunately with this comes a lack of volume and when performing in a theatre space this is detrimental as if the audience cannot hear the lines that are being spoken the whole thing is pointless. From my assumptions, Harry was probably so focused on raising the volume and energy of his delivery to the appropriate level that with it he lost some of that natural connection he so wonderfully established before. Of course his performance was still highly commendable and demonstrated great acting skills, however I know that it was lacking something that I hadn’t noticed before.
Link scene between Rose and Ed
The dynamic at the beginning of the scene felt quite different to that of the night before and I think this was very much fulled by the reactions of the audience on each night – neither of which were better or worse in any way, only different. On the first night Harry’s delivery of the line ‘Jane meant nothing to me’ got a big laugh as the audience could clearly see where his typical spiel about being a man was going, which then lifted the tone of the scene and made Harry’s lines come across as comedic. However, on the second night, the whole tone of the scene became a lot more intense and darker after receiving no laughter from the audience on the line they laughed at the night before. I found it really interesting how this proved how an audience can establish the atmosphere on stage as much as the other actors and how you can never guess how an audience will respond and it may differ every night even if your delivery of the same moment never changes. In this particular performance, as we got no relief from the audiences laughter, it fuelled the heat behind the confrontation more which helped bring the emotion and anger in my voice and actions out more.
Before watching the footage back I was convinced that I had got lines in the wrong order or trampled a line or word, or messed up in some way, however in watching it back it made it clear to me that this not true and that it was obviously just my over critical and worrying brain jumping to conclusions and trying to make problems when there were none. As much as I hate to admit it, I was actually really pleased with my performance of the monologue and feel that I portrayed it with truth and made the Shakespearean language sound as natural and spontaneous as possible. This is difficult for me to say, as I rarely praise myself and am always looking for faults so I can scrutinise myself, however when watching the footage I made an effort to detach myself from it as much as possible and view it with neutral eyes, as if it wasn’t me at all but any performer, in the hope that I could watch it without ripping it to parts and putting myself down.
After the first performance Harry and I had had a conversation about how we could make the whole thing look less stagnant and like we were having a face off, by introducing some movement (which we used to have but somehow slipped out in the last few runs since putting it on the set) in an attempt to make the whole scene feel more natural. On asking my mum for feedback on improvements I could make to the performance of my monologue, she also suggested that we introduced a tiny bit of movement to make it more visually engaging. When working on the scene before I would often go to turn away from him in frustration or while I was ranting to myself however I didn’t feel it was right to constantly pace back and forth turning to face him and then back on him again, and felt that it needed to be a two way argument to feel natural as I don’t feel Rose would let out the emotion unless she was pushed to the limit. Therefore when reworking the scene and the short bit of dialogue before the monologue begins, we decided that Rose would most likely turn away or go to walk away as she doesn’t want to waste her time talking to Ed as she is already so furious. But when Rose goes to leave Ed turns her round forcing her to face him (demonstrating his control and manipulation over her) which is the last straw that pushes her to explode (alongside the final remark he makes at he being a bad as him). By adding this movement I felt it made the scene more exciting to watch from an audience perspective but also helped me live the scene and feel all the emotions rather as it felt more real than when we were just standing there. Yes, the majority of my actual monologue was delivered directly at Harry, however I felt Rose would have wanted to take the opportunity to make her last stand and defend herself before leaving, and to do so she would want Ed to listen to every single word. I don’t think my decision to do this made it too boring, as I used my hands when talking to help express my emotion and give the audience a better chance of understanding my Shakespeare at the same time.
As previously mentioned I felt like the emotion that I had built up in the run up to the scene helped fuel the anger and frustration in my voice and charge the through thought of the monologue, which helped generate more energy and made it feel more real. Vocally I think I managed to land the emphasis on the right phrases and words to get the meaning across and guide the audience to the important parts, as well as using the emphasis to fuel the emotion in my voice. When performing the monologue I actually found myself getting quite emotional and flustered in myself (which is why I think I worried about possibly mucking up as I felt so wrapped up in the feeling) and by the time I got to the final line, where it feels unfinished due to the way I edited the monologue, I genuinely felt like Rose wouldn’t have been able to carry on talking to Ed without crying or screaming in his face.
Link between Jimmy and Ed before Rebel
Thankfully Harry remembered to say his line ‘Rose, you know George only asked you out for a bet don’t you?’, which he forgot to do on the first night, and so the last few lines of the show actually had some context and made sense. The moment at which Jimmy laughs at Ed, who is left standing alone centre stage, could have been made slightly clearer as to who it was directed too as from an audience few I wonder whether they would have realised as from watching the footage back it almost seemed like Jimmy was laughing at Rose’s situation. Obviously this becomes clear when the next few lines are aimed at Ed, however I think in hindsight we could have made this clearer by Jimmy making his way down the step from his platform to stand behind or beside Ed whilst doing the laughter – just to make it extra clear and avoid potential confusion.
I really enjoyed performing the last few lines that were added after the first full run through, where Rose asks Jimmy if she can leave work early as she has a date to go on, and when Lulu reminds her it was only a bet, she says ‘Yes, I know, but I’m feeling like taking the gamble’ , as I feel like it captures Rose’s feminist empowerment perfectly and emphasis’ the whole message of ‘Saints and Sinners’ that anyone can change their future if they have the guts. I tried to portray Rose’s defiant attitude by standing up when I said the line to give her a sense of authority, and also used a slightly challenging tone to my voice and a proud glint in my eye, almost as if she was proving that she couldn’t be brought down or controlled by someone else. I then emphasised this attitude by swigging from one of the bottles of alcohol on the table, as I felt it would show how she was beyond caring, but it would also be a natural response when you’ve had bad news or you’re about to do something completely new and terrifying.
St Jimmy’s closing speech
I thought Jack’s delivery of the final speech was perfect and captured the sense of mystery throughout the whole show, and the way in which he had slightly playful, yet tinkering quality to his voice brought an element of excitement to what he was saying. I helped St Jimmy’s final speech and am pleased with how it came together, and summed up the whole concept of the club ‘Saints and Sinners’ without directly suggesting the idea of it being purgatory. It was me who suggested adding the Oscar Wilde quote that inspired the piece to the end of the speech as not only was it pretty much the stimulus for the whole concept of it not being as straight forward as being solely good or bad, but reiterates the idea that anyone has the ability to rewrite their fate. I felt that characterisation wise Jack managed to re-find the strong character he had at the beginning of the show, but started to lose at moments in Act 2, and it definitely helped create the dark atmosphere and hint towards he concept of Jimmy being otherworldly in one way or another.
I was really pleased and proud with how we managed to pull this song off as an entire company, especially when so many of the cast members are not confident or experienced singers and are being required to tackle a difficult song. When we first started learning it I was really worried as lots of people were struggling to pick up the tune and getting the turns and grace notes in unison, while several people obviously hadn’t even put in the effort to learning the song at all. Then when we came to the round it fell apart nearly every time or it would feel like a shouting match between the groups battling to be the loudest; however by some miracle we managed to pull it together and in the end it actually sounded really strong and in tune and people were bringing character and life to the song and performing it rather than just standing there.
I instigated the idea of us all staying in character and acknowledging the people around us when singing as I felt this would bring the song to life more (as well as the fact that I actually missed the rehearsal when they staged the song and so I sat at a table and naturally started acting through the song in character). On my table, us waitresses were interacting throughout the song, and aiming some of the lyrics at each other as if we were talking to one another; for example on the line ‘you never judge me and you never ask why’ I kind of nudge Sian (Lulu) in a playful way as if to say thank you for being there. Not all the other cast members kept up their characters to this extent or made the lyrics relevant to their character’s circumstances, and this was clear when watching the footage back, but I am sure these individuals were probably the ones who were less confident on the singing and therefore were concentrating on this aspect. However I did notice how Harry, stayed in character throughout and showed Ed’s isolation and resentment in his closed body language and melancholy expression, as well as the fact he angled himself slightly away from the people around him and way positioned facing the side of the stage where Rose is sat.
The vocals sounded pretty strong over all and the blend of voices was a lot better than the opening night where Jess and a few other people’s mics were turned up much louder than the rest of the cast and therefore overpowered the majority of the sound and outbalanced the other parts in the round. However listening to the recording of our second and final performance the balance and blend of voices against each other and the instruments was spot on. Obviously not everyone was on a radio mic however these were dished out so that someone in each group had one and so no part would be lost in the mix.