(The following was written on Friday, but internet issues meant I couldn’t post it til now. Sorry)
Hello from Tewkesbury, after what has been a long and trying day.
After 3 hours, two trains, a stale railway station sandwich, no buses, and a hastily called taxi, I made it to my hotel and then to the lovely Roses Theatre, where I unpacked my bag, only to realise I had left my “suit what I wear on stage” back in London.
I have made an effort in the last year or so to dress nicely on stage, to look like I have made an effort for the paying public, so was quite annoyed with myself when I found that the only clothes I had with me were the jeans, t shirt and leather jacket I had been wearing all day.
A quick scout around backstage revealed that there was a pantomime starting in a few weeks time, and that the costumes had been left in a dressing room after a photo shoot. I worked out what would fit me and hatched a plan.
Once the audience were seated, I took to the stage to make an announcement. I explained to the assembled mass that I had forgotten my suit but still wanted to make an effort for them while also punishing myself. So I promised to do the entire show dressed as one of the Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters.
Apparently it was a Superman-inspired ugly sister called Flatula. How appropriate. You can’t see from this photo, but I even put on the pink spandex tights and fake boobs underneath.
To be honest, I’m not sure everybody liked it. Two older women seemed to be exceedingly nonplussed by the whole affair, glanced disapprovingly at each other throughout the first half and left during the interval.
Three young men in the front row (two of whom looked like the Gloucestershire Proclaimers) were both amused and scared. I chatted to them a bit in the second half, and asked what they do for fun in Tewkesbury. They replied “Go somewhere else”. When I asked if they go out a lot, one of the lads (Ben) replied “Oh yes, we’re men of the world”
I then tested that sentence by asking if they had ever 1) drunk alcohol 2) kissed a girl 3) dressed in women’s clothing. Ben said he had. When I asked Ben to expand, he said “When I was small, my Nan used to come to our place to have baths, and whenever she did I would dress in her clothes and run in and show her while she was wearing a towel.”
You can imagine the laughter from this took a while to die down. When it did I suggested we should re-enact that, and took Ben backstage to prepare. Then, Ben and I presented the scene of him dressing in his Nan’s clothes while she scolded him while wearing a towel.
It looked like this:
Once again, I’m not quite sure what the audience made of it. Afterwards as I sold shirts to raise money for the theatre, a lady said “I enjoyed your show. It was very, um, original. That’s a polite way of saying it”
Speaking of raising money for the theatre, a great comedian immortalised The Roses Theatre after doing just that 25 years ago. Eric Morecambe made his last appearance at a benefit event for The Roses Theatre in 1985. Legend has it he walked off stage, said “Ooh I’m glad that’s over” then promptly had a fatal heart attack.
Turns out I was in the same dressing room he had on the night. Dressing Room Two however was where his heart was worked on, and bears his name on the door. It was a beautiful, solemn honour to perform in the same place, and I’d like to think I paid honour to the great Mr Morecambe by not only raising a little bit more money for the theatre, but also by dying a little bit on stage too.
Here’s to one of life’s great inflators: