During our last week in Chichester the Members Chorus regathered to begin the process of our journey to the Garrick in the West End.
We had one main priority - to redirect the show from the Minerva's thrust configuration to the Garrick's gorgeous Victorian pros-arch. No easy task.
Jeremy and Rae Smith (our designer) spent time working out various design options for the show. Primarily how we keep the essence of the show's multi-locations within a smaller stage footprint than we were used to in Chichester. The result is excellent. The two whips offices have been placed side by side, with the main 'central lobby' corridor moving to the downstage edge of the stage. The audience relationship continues with onstage House of Commons seating, with the addition of some gallery style seating above the playing space.
During our initial rehearsals the company adapted well to the new configuration. Everything was similar but sometimes, as Audrey Wise says, '... just the other way around'. We had the luxury of not having to concentrate on acting choices or major stylistic ideas as the company had now been playing the show for over a month. This allowed for great laughs and an easy process. This freedom also allowed the company to rediscover the energy of the show and indeed some new ideas to add to the mix.
Playing a show such as This House in an 'end-on' environment changes the relationship with the audience. They are now collectively seeing the show as a single image and all receiving the information at the same time. This has heightened the comedy in show and allows for a more concentrated experience.
As we moved into tech week at the theatre, again like in Chichester, we spent most of our time finessing lighting and sound cues, and actor entrances in connection to these cues. I'm always in awe of the precision of the show's transitions and the detail of the actors characterisation that helps make the story exciting and clear.
At the Garrick the show has now found its new home. A more intimate playing space with a more focussed and immediate configuration. It will be so interesting to see the audiences responses to the show as the politic landscape continues to shift and sometimes quake beneath our feet!