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Time to watch life spiral

Time. It comes. It goes. It ticks on. A single event can happen in the blink of an eye, seem like a lifetime, but ultimately change your life forever.

A few months back I began working with award-winning theatre director Kevin Tomlinson, a master of performance, and Abigail Hood, a simply divine actress and writer of incomprehensible abilities. This week, I ventured to London to give my support to them as they appeared in Abi’s play Spiral, which has been performing at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park for seven weeks.

For me, this was a big deal, not least because I wanted to support these two talented individuals but also because I’ve not managed to journey to London for quite some time. Thoughts and feelings of a negative nature took over to an almost crippling point that the thought of arriving in the capital was way off the cards, but this was something that had to be done. The end of the show’s run was in sight and I’d still not been able to get on the train and get there.

The journey was probably the most difficult element, and I wanted the hour train ride to end. It was exhausting, as anxiety is, and by the time we reached London, I was shattered. I wanted and needed my bed, but I’d come this far, and there wasn’t anywhere to lay a head. Well, there was, and that’s where I truly realised the parallels of my world compared to those poor individuals sat in the cardboard city under Finsbury Park bridge. Crushed against the wall on one side, encroaching a well-worn footpath, the poor of the neighbourhood huddle together amidst blankets, pop-up tents, and squalor whilst the polished shoes of top business workers tap along at an upbeat pace in front of their eyes. Time was moving on, but for them it might as well have stopped. It was haunting to see, and made worse spotting the rats running amidst them. What dreadful situations people find themselves in.

What you realise though is that this is reality. This happens. That’s the exact feeling I had watching Spiral. The inspiration for the storyline came half a decade ago when Abigail noticed a ‘missing person’s’ note in a London paper that was unlike any other. This made every possible conceivable question spark her creative mind and produce one of the greatest pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time, receiving critical acclaim and it was easy to see why. It was gripping and gritty, and at times, exceptionally hard to watch due to its dark nature.

The set was simplistic but as always fantastically conceived by Nomi Everall, who I’ve worked with at Pegasus Theatre in Oxford. It allowed the eye to be drawn even more to the amazing characterisations by Abi, Kevin, Adam Morris, and Tracey Wilkinson. I’ve been a fan particularly of Wilkinson since her days in TV drama¬†Bad Girls, but her portrayal of a mother stricken by the grief of losing her daughter was heart-wrenching that I wanted to leap up and hug her. This is nothing to take away from the other actors who embodied the characters with ease and offered such an attack on our emotions that it’s a shame to see that it’s not running any longer. Come on somebody with money. Get behind it. Kevin’s portrayal of abusive Mark was so believable that some of those I spoke to in the audience said that they would have been more than happy to leave before the interval as he made them feel sick.

Reflecting on the show afterwards with others, one comment stood out: ‘how nice to have a show that spirals upwards to a positive conclusion than end on a negative’, and it was needed. It had been dark and harrowing throughout, and Abi took a bold decision to end it in the way she did, but it also left questions unanswered, which is great for our imaginations as audience members. We saw how things had changed over time, but we were left wanting more and to know what lay in store for Abi’s character’s future.

That forming of ideas from initial sparks of creativity is what spurred me onto writing my first full length script. My spark came two years ago when I was on holiday looking out to sea. I wrote a couple of pages of description of an opening scene and knew there were four characters. Nothing more. I shelved it after struggling for ages, and then just a few months ago, inspiration struck, I dug out those notes, and yesterday I had the first rehearsed reading of my script with an amazing cast of ladies who brought it to life with such enthusiasm that I was taken away with it all.

The story has changed somewhat since my first initial thoughts, and after last night’s session, will change again. There’s bits that were great, and I’ll be big headed and proud to admit that, but I’ll also admit there’s some bits even I was confused by, and I’d written it!

Our perception of situations and abilities can change immensely over time. Four weeks ago I was back in the mindset that I was a human being of limited ability, once more struggling with my anxiety, and wondering what direction life was going in. Now, having had three rounds of acupuncture and beginning to take a renewed approach to my things, I find that I’m soon to be moving up on the career ladder because I’ve accepted that I’m more skilled than I first believed, and being able to get the creative juices flowing towards some dream goals of not only seeing theatre, but writing for it, has really changed my outlook over this past week.

Time really can change your life but you’ve got to want change, and I think that’s what’s key to keeping a positive spin on things. It’s amazing what difference time can make to your life, if you’re willing to put the time in.

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