Thursday, 28 May 2015

A fun visit to an Oddsocks' rehearsal in Derby!

Today I was tremendously privileged to attend a rehearsal of 'Much Ado About Nothing'. It wasn't at the RSC. It wasn't at the National Theatre. It wasn't at The Globe nor Regent's Park. It didn't include bowing to Kenneth Branagh, Sir Kenneth Branagh,  or … or … those other noisy ones. It was much much better than that! Much better!  Much much better!! It was with the Oddsocks Theatre Company!!! (Expecting a super loud cheer now).

Their young producer Hope Ward-Brown took me into the hallowed rehearsal space on Green Lane, gave me a coffee and the cast and director welcomed me by name and with broad smiles (I checked my flies) and - bourbon biscuits languorously lathered with organic peanut butter. Yummy! It doesn't get better than that! It really doesn't. Forget your fancy welcoming buffet crudités and your false bonhomie of Londres. This is a real Derby welcome, duck, from a professional theatre company who take life from the fun side and make it even sunnier and funnier.


Throughout the two hours I stayed I listened with great interest as director Andy Barrow steered the cast members through their scenes and took on their suggestions as to how it might work 'Oddsocks style' and concurred with many of the performers' ideas. This is touring Shakespearian comedy brought up to date that will be performed with the emphasis on collaboration and most importantly a liberated sense of fun, musicality, grassy expanses and the occasional cosy indoor theatre.

"I can readeth my lines with mine eyes closed. Thank you. "

This is what the many admirers of Oddsocks enjoy so much when they tour: the honest connection with the original text (albeit cut ever so slightly), the energy of the performers clearly enjoying what they are doing, the inherent professionalism and their abiding love of entertainment.

Often the most entertaining values for an audience are those realised when the cast double or even treble up their roles. In Oddsock's 'Much Ado' and 'Twelfth Night' I learnt that we will have the pleasure of seeing director/actor Andy Barrow as Leonato & Malvolio, the versatile Kevin Kemp as Benedick & Toby Belch, the triple talented Rebecca Little as (drum roll) Beatrice, Maria & Viola, and the beautiful Ukulele proficient Lucy Varney as Hero & Olivia.

There's more folks. The many talented and handsome Gavin Harrison will be Don John/Don Pedro/Orsino and Andrew Aguecheek) and the lovely Peter Hoggart will impress as Claudio/Feste/Sebastian. All will be playing musical instruments in each show!  (Big round of applause for everyone please!)

I for one, and one for all, (different play Phil) will be looking forward to Oddsocks' tour this Summer where the bold, challenging and decidedly interactive company will be No Holds Bard (copyright Phil Lowe 2015)  with 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'Twelfth Night' Check out the tour schedule HERETH.

Thanks for the invite Oddsocks  I hope that I have done you proud. Phil

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