Monday, 20 September 2010

All the world is a stage...

A few months ago I did something that I've long wanted to do in Shepherd's Bush, and quite frankly should have done by now. No, it wasn't suggesting the Green's super strength crew swap cider for Appletise, nor was it downing a pint in one of the many intimidating, but equally as intriguing, QPR pubs. It was in fact going to the theatre; Bush Theatre.


I purposefully haven't blogged about him much but NewMan and I don't have many things in common, and the theatre certainly isn't one of them ("Are there robots in this play?" I believe was his first answer to an invite), but somehow in this very special beginning phase when we are both open, or at least pretending to be, to each other's differing interests, he agreed to it.

The Bush Theatre began in the most traditional of ways, in a room above a pub. Slightly less traditionally apparently the room was also once used as Lionel Blair's dance studio (oh the jazz hands!). In nearly 40 years the theatre has become a breeding ground for new talent, both in terms of writing, directing and general thespian creativity and has welcomed many big names into its small but perfectly intimate performing space. It was personally lovely to learn from the Theatre's history that Victoria Wood wrote her first sketch on a type writer she found in the theatre and then performed it there with one of my heros, Julie Walters.

Perhaps I should explain that if I had thicker skin and better teeth I would have pursued my childhood dream of becoming an actress. Instead I have a proper job (which admittedly I love), though a life long passion for theatre which needs attention every now and again remains. Back then when I was blissfully ignorant and chasing this dream studying Theatre Studies at sixth form college we used to rehearse in a space not dissimilar to the 81 capacity Bush Theatre, so it was a nice flashback to a creative time in my life.

NewMan and I went to see Like a Fishbone by Anthony Weigh. The play is essentially about an event that has already happened, a shooting in a small town school. Set in the office of an architect who is commissioned by the town to devise a suitable memorial to those who died, she is confronted by the extremely Christian mother of one of the children who died. The play and performance actually got slammed (I believe that's the correct terminology) by the critics and I went to watch it having already read the reviews, but craftily keeping them from NewMan, who I could tell was absolutely doing this to gain new boyfriend bonus points.

There were elements to the play that lacked conviction and indeed certain moments in the play went from subtle and effective dialogue to quite cliché-heavy discourse, but I had to applaud both the consistent and on the whole convincing lead performances by Deborah Findley and Sarah Smart and I have to thank Phoebe Waller-Bridge in her amusing supporting role which kept NewMan entertained. I left the Bush Theatre feeling like I'd enjoyed the play but best of all like I'd joined a fairly secret club of Bush Theatre go-ers who share something quite special.

Here comes the serious bit. Bush Theatre relies heavily on donations to keep fulfilling it's goal of giving new playwrights a platform and I have to say one visit to this local slice of culture I am convinced it's a worthy cause. Bush Theatre has also been occupying the charming building that used to house Shepherd's Bush library and has been doing on-off events there with the help of volunteers. Not only is this a sign of culture in the area, it's also a strong indicator of community being alive and well in Shepherd's Bush. And at a time when funding for the arts is under an increasing threat, I for one am happy to support this.

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