Those amongst you who, having nothing better to do, occasionally read this blog will be aware that things have been pretty quiet this year. My opinion, revered or reviled, on all things theatrical has been as absent as a bishop in a brothel. In other words, hastily explaining my tortuous analogy, if you saw me in the foyer it was a pretty rare sighting. There are numerous reasons for me not buying my grubby ticket and scribbling my equally grubby thoughts, but do not worry folks I have no intention of offloading them all here. The main one most of you know, a crisis in my life with the lovely her indoors, which in its drama and aftermath knocked out much of what little bit of stuffing I have. I treat it lightly now but in those dark days of late March life literally lost its meaning. And I cannot thank you lot enough for all the wonderful thoughts and support. But that’s enough of the serious bit. You come on here for a laugh, usually at my misguided opinions, not a sentimental wallow. So let us, as the police often say, move along please.
I did take in a few things either side of that crisis. Wheathampstead gave me an interesting Double Double and I am sure their Ibsen’s Ghosts would have been riveting if they hadn’t cancelled it. There you are folks, a rave review without even putting the play on. And, because I no longer drive at night, I roped in two Saturday matinees at the delightful Barn Theatre in Welwyn. The Ladykillers and The Thrill Of Love. Both, given the lousy results, worth missing the horseracing for. That bit about night driving is allied to another reason for my frequent absences. I am rapidly turning into Harpenden’s own Mr Magoo. Myopia, age and tablets have a lot to answer for. I just thank God I can still see Ladbrokes and the drinks bottle. But if you want my slant on your coruscating latest you may have to do a Mrs Worthington and put me on stage slap bang in the middle of your Troilus and Cressida. No, I’ve never seen it either and, given my dodgy mince pies, probably now never will.
When you have finished googling Worthington and Magoo, for God’s sake have you nothing better to do, you may, briefly, return your attention to things I regret not seeing. Or at least hearing. The Rep’s Anne Frank, Company of Ten’s The Vortex, ACT’s Les Miserables would have all been worth seeing. So I have been told and I never argue with opinions. I will of course now get a letter, that old fashioned missive, from the estimable Joe Butcher demanding an explanation for the omission of Yes Prime Minister from the list. My only excuse is that I cannot, however much I try, not see everything. If you know what I mean. I am buggered if I do. Whilst on the subject of eyes I also did not see summer, July 1st for those with a short memory, Lord Lucan, the March eclipse of the sun that never was, at least here in Harpenden, the Naked Rambler, the first cuckoo, or a four leaf clover. I did see, in advance, Qualify winning the Oaks at 50/1 and the Tories winning the election against all the odds. Brains compensating for vision he says with appalling smugness at being right.
Equally what I also did not see, and here comes the point of this rambling blog, was me immersed in lines for two portrayals I never expected to perform in a roller coaster year. And giving them a plug so those who can, and if so inclined, come along and throw bricks of appreciation or flowers of rage. Or something like that. I care not which, providing they are lovingly wrapped in fifty pound notes. I detail them below, where I also detail much more sincerely and seriously a few words about those dedicated folks at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital who figured high in my life for a few traumatic days in March. Playing William Shakespeare is a breeze compared with that.
That dedicated team in the Intensive Care Unit at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, and the paramedics who initially responded to my call, saved my wife’s life. It is as simple as that. She spent two weeks in the ITC, ten days of them in an induced coma and for the first five or six no one, including the medical experts, knew whether she would live or die. But they threw everything at her and pulled her through from a combination of a vicious flu virus and viral pneumonia. They were amazing. Doctors and Nurses, with twenty four hour dedication laced with consummate expertise and gentle and happy compassion. Especially for me. We all complain when we have to wait umpteen weeks for our in growing toenail to be attended but, in a crisis, the National Health Service comes up trumps. I cannot thank them enough. But for them the only thanks they wanted, and got, was seeing my wife walk out of that hospital three weeks later. Their joy was almost as much as mine. Roy Hall
‘Dark Lady of the Sonnets’ by George Bernard Shaw (Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St Lawrence) – Sunday 6th September 2015 2.00pm and 3.00pm. (High St Players)
‘Neighbourhood Watch’ by Alan Ayckbourn (High Town Leisure Centre) – Wednesday 21st October to Friday 23rd October 7.30pm. (St Andrews Players)