On Friday I ended my week with a trundle to Leeds to the brand new renovated Leeds Playhouse. It’s been closed for a while while they create a shiny new theatre and, even though it reopened a while ago, Friday was my first viewing.
I’ve done loads of things with them in the past under the invitation of Nicky Taylor, Theatre and Dementia Research Associate, from reviewing a showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, to advising on and working with actress Sharon Small on her portrayal of the stage performance of Still Alice. But I was there Friday, to see the progress of a new play by writer Frances Poet, called ‘Maggie May’. Apparently I met with Frances a couple of years ago when the idea was a seed and after meeting me and many other playmates involved with the theatre, she wrote the play.
We were there to see a few scenes having a run through, especially around ‘the fog’ that Maggie was experiencing, to give our take on the storyline and performances.
Anyway, another train trundle to get me there, this time 2 trains, changing in Hull.
A bitterly cold wind hit my face as I went out of my front door to join the waiting taxi. A newbie driver to me. Before I’d left, the weatherman had told me it was due to be a rubbish day and more heavy rain was forecasted 🙈….must be dreadful for all those people in flooded homes, or with the water creeping ever closer, to hear the news of more rain on the way 😔
Changing at Hull, my next train was waiting….i climbed aboard and then as the departing time got nearer, I realised I was by myself, the only person in the carriage……very strange at 08.15 in the morning 😳……but then the reasurring dulcet tones of the guard confrimed I was on the right train, but for some reason today, I had it to myself 🤔……..weird…maybe it was the forecast that had put people off travelling 😳…..
Anyway we trundled our way …..it felt like we were trundling through a very sad grey world as we passed by the Humber, fed up of all the deluge of rain of late and desperate for sunshine and warmth….or was that just me…..?……… onwards to leeds….
As I said, me and a few other playmates had been invited to watch and comment on some of the darker scenes from the play including Maggie’s ‘fog’ and her fears. I trundled down through the city to the new vamped playhouse….and it looked very different
I suddenly saw Nicky coming out to meet me…..gone had the long steep steps up to the entrance and now it was on street level straight into the café
We got one piccie of me in front of the advert for the play and the message to the right, on the wall of the theatre says…..:
“I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again”
Obviously referring to the theatre revamp, but very appropriate for me too…..😂🤣😂
……I was the last to arrive as 2 other playmates and 2 supporters were waiting all ready……..
We made our way up to the rehearsal rooms a short walk away and all the actors were there waiting……along with Frances the writer, Jemima the director,🙄😂
We got our cuppas, our name badges in situe and made our way to the Directors area where we would sit and watch the scenes….first task was a piccie of us, all present and correct…
The they set the scene for us…they’re trying out a little section today – 5 scenes and whether that group of scenes work and whether Maggie experience feels truthful – do we get enough of the difficulties but also the resolve and lightness that it will lead to …..
The blurb for the play states”
”Maggie and Gordon first met in 1971 dancing to the sound of Rod Stewart. Now in their sixties, and still very much in love, they’ve been finishing each other’s songs all their marriage
At this point, Maggie lives at home with Gordon her hubby, she’s been hiding the diagnosis from her son and best friend ….
There’s a TV screen that adds prompts for where were are, who people are and Maggie’s thoughts………which I think will work well on stage with a screen each side.
The actors appeared and introduced themselves…..
Eithne – Maggie May
Maxine – Jo, Maggies best friend
John – hubby Gordon
Mark – son Michael
Shireen – sons girlfriend Claire
The scene started with Maggie in bed…..and hubby coming to see her in bed when they were suppose to be going to her group….but today is a foggy day…..and we saw Maggie going through the trauma of a foggy day – not to give too much away, but this is a very intense scene but with such a purpose and message that it can’t be ignored.
We saw her next in the hospital bed……with her best friend visiting.
“Do not compare your scattiness to my life…” and ‘If I was here with stomach cancer you wouldn’t say ‘oh yes, I often get tummy ache’
said Maggie as her friend started to compare her forgetfulness with her own – one of my favourite bits….
The play is part musical with a lovely bit between Maggie and her hubby singing…and one of these singing outbursts will end the first section…..
which had us all jigging about in our seats…
We sat in a circle and discussed this scene in detail, the scaryness, the reality. We had some brilliant ideas between us and it was interesting to hear all our views, as there were differences…….as we all have different experiences…..we suggested ways to enhance some messages, applauded some bits and suggested changes that might be made in other areas..
Frances and Jemima were jotting down profuse amounts of notes….
The songs and singing, along with the darker times of the start of the scene depicted the real life roller coaster we live through…
It runs for 3 weeks in Hornchurch from 13th March…
….before coming to Leeds at the end of March….
Something magical to be involved in once more at the Playhouse and the actors breathed a sigh of relief as they took in our comments and praise at the end…..can’t wait to see it in April……..and time for one last piccie of everyone together