Suddenly the office is full again. Karen and Jake have returned from almost a month in Spain with Of All The People In All The World. Craig is back after a month clawing back time owed him by Stan and writing a play for Radio 4. Graeme has re-emerged from a bunker at Birmingham Uni. where he was devising a show with students.
He’s done well to get that gig; the University has been a notoriously closed shop for as long as we’ve been in town. This is either the dawning of a new era or the crumbling of Western Civilisation. The show, Casting Doughty, was an unknown quantity, a non-Stan enterprise. Craig and I piled over on Saturday for the last night.
I love watching these shows devised with teams of students. I love seeing large casts doing their thing. I love watching the range of performers that are necessarily involved. Having made a number of these shows myself I love spotting what tactics the director has used, imaging how the devising process evolved and how the show ended up being what it was.
Essentially Casting Doughty was the biography of a fictional film director told through scenes from his films. Bursting with ideas, the show was always watchable and engaging. It had great bits of set and the best costumes I’ve seen in a student show, so there were often scenes that looked great. Whilst there was only one section that really caught fire for me (a sequence of scenes evolving on a rotating set) there were plenty of other moments that I wanted to see more of. Naturally for me that is the ultimate joy of watching these shows – imagining what I would do if you had a week to rework the show.
I had a great time, unfortunately for Craig his natural talent shone through and on entering the theatre he got cast as Doughty (a different audience member is cast for each performance). The poor man ends up working when he’s visiting someone else’s show. To make matters worse his final moment – emerging from a wicker basket – was stolen from him by an ill-timed fire alarm. The last two minutes of the show were performed outside in the bitter cold without props, lights or sound.
Another memorable night out.