So, last night was the big night; a TRA-members visit to the theatre. Ten of us, by TRA screen names as I don't their permission to give real names: Me, Happylady and her sister, Annie Mae and a friend, Sunshine_Darkmoon, Mrs Overall, Angie-D, Tally, AmyJ1986.
I arrived at the pub at about 5-45; Mrs Overall had phoned while I was on the train, so I knew she was sitting just inside the door. I had also made myself a silly Railway Arms badge, so she clocked me just as I was wondering whether to speak or not. We met at the Lord Moon of the Mall, which is right next to the theatre. It’s been somewhat disparaged as a tourist trap, but I found it quite a comfortable place in a crowded
By dint of badges and phone calls we gradually made ourselves known to each other; eight complete strangers and two friends. The funniest part of this phase was when I got a call from Amy; moving to the doorway where it was quieter I started to explain where I was, and she started telling me she was at the pub, and then we realised we were actually standing right next to each other!
By the time 7-15 came around, I don't think anyone looking at our group would have guessed we'd never met until an hour earlier. We had a brilliant time, chatting about all sorts, but mainly of course Life on Mars, Doctor Who and John. If we'd simply fixed a pub meetup I would have felt I'd had a great evening already. And they were so kind - they'd signed a card to thank me for organising the group booking, and given me some book vouchers! If I didn't do so properly last night, then THANK YOU now. If Amy reads this, I have a request – if you have an LJ or similar, please post your story about watching the last two episodes – the one with the aerial! You told it so well, it was just hysterical.
At 7-20 we went along to the theatre; some people queued for programmes while some went straight through. Getting to Studio 1 involves travelling through a bit of a labyrinth of dimly-lit black-painted corridors, but when you get to the auditorium the feel is very similar to the Bush. We had the whole of Row AA, together with four seats of Row A, and I think everyone was very pleased at how close to the action we were.
I won’t say anything about the play itself here, because we are allowed to talk about that on TRA. I didn’t get a chance to ask other people what they were thinking during the play, but when I saw it at the Bush, every other thought was “I can’t believe I’m in the same room as John”. However, having got through that experience, and now speaking as someone who was seeing it for the second time, these are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind:
♥ It’s funnier, and sort of bigger – what have they done that’s different?
♥ I still can’t believe that’s John, I just can’t see him.
♥ I like this better than I did at the Bush – I think knowing how it all comes out in the end lets you relax and enjoy it more.
♥ Pyjamas / bedhead / Master
♥ Oooh, look at those legs / those arms / that chest / that neck / those hands
♥ Isn’t it weird how he can do so much with his hair to make himself look different
♥ Oh wow, those strange cover shots of the Master with the airbrushed face and the almost pointy chin – there he is, it is John’s own face after all!
♥ I think Keir’s losing it – he’s going to burst out laughing at any moment.
♥ The actors all seem to be having a great time doing this.
♥ I hope John doesn’t regret signing up for 3 months – that’s a long time to do 8 shows a week at this level of performance.
♥ Oh my God, there’s Kendle Bains, just for a second.
♥ He really is quite small, isn’t he – so sweet and so gorgeous.
♥ How the hell is someone that size The Master?
♥ How can this odd skinny little guy with the funny face be the same man who only 3 weeks ago was totally believable as the Master? The Master dominated the screen, the story, everything, with a huge display of apparently effortless power, charm, charisma, sexiness, madness. It just burned out of the screen, and yet there is none of that here.
♥ How can he do those huge booming shouts when Elling gets riled, and yet still sound like Elling? How does he go into the lower register (probably the wrong technical term) and use a very deep strong loud voice, but without undermining the fact that we think of Elling as having a repressed squawky sort of voice?
♥ Final line of the play; a moment’s silence then: oh look, it’s John, I’m in the same room as John.
I just had the biggest grin on my face at the end, definitely even more so than the first time I saw the play; I just could not stop grinning like a fool. I think the cast were pleased at our response; they seemed to be smiling and cheerful, not just doing the job of the curtain call. They went off and came back again to even louder applause.
Only one odd note – I don’t know the etiquette of taking the bow, but I would expect the star, ie John, to lead it. Either I’ve got that wrong, or John didn’t want to, or didn’t have the confidence that the rest of the cast would follow. He was seriously hesitant about going into the bow, both times. Perhaps
As soon as the cast left again, we set off round a couple of corners for the stage door; there were 3 or 4 people there already, plus 8 of us (Happylady and her sister had to leave straight away), plus an older couple arrived soon after us. At this point I finally remembered to switch my phone back on in the hope of getting a picture, and agreed to take a picture of a German(?) girl who was there already, if she could get one with John.
I managed to position myself so I could see down the corridor to the stage door. I have to admit that by this stage I was so nervous that I really can’t remember what order people came out in. At this point we did notice the heckler walk down the road to join us; he kept asking people if he could borrow a pen, and kept trying to start up conversations, but I have to admit we didn’t answer.
When Keir came out, he looked quite prepared to glide through the small crowd without speaking or stopping, but when I asked him if he would sign my book he was quite happy to do so. I’d bought the book of this production last week, and when he saw what it was he said he hadn’t realised there was a book available, so I told him it had been published the day before they opened. I said I thought it was funnier than at the Bush, and he said something about it being a bigger space, that you could use better. He was very friendly and seemed relaxed, and said goodbye to everyone before walking off up the road.
When Ingrid came out I asked if she would sign, and again she seemed perfectly happy to do so. I asked her what was different about this staging of the show – for example had they put in extra moves and made some bits more slapstick-y, and she said it was to do with having a bigger stage to work with. When I said I thought it was funnier than at the Bush and that for some reason I’d enjoyed it more, she said it had been a good audience. She seemed perfectly friendly and “ordinary” in a nice way.
Jonathon commented that it was nice that the programme was in the same colours as the set “very IKEA”, and he was also happy to sign all around.
During all this, there were 2 or 3 guys who stood back, not taking any interest in Keir, Ingrid or Jonathon.
And then, finally, the door opened again - very tentatively at first – and there was
They came out to us, and again I was first point of contact (good positioning there, but a bit nerve-wracking). I don’t know if it’s deliberate that they normally come out one at a time, but that certainly works better. When Adrian and John came out together I asked Adrian if he would sign my book, and then as John seemed on the point of walking away I asked him as well (he didn’t look ecstatic about it, but he agreed pleasantly enough), so I was then in the strange position of having Adrian reach out for the book and John taking the pen at the same time.
I did try, but my mind was in pieces and I couldn’t figure out how to work the camera, I really couldn’t get a grip mentally or physically. Eventually I had to say “I’m sorry, I can’t do it, my hands are shaking too much” and Ingrid, lovely lady, said she would do it. She’s presumably used to seeing the state people get into around John! I asked her if she would do one for me as well and she agreed; it seemed to take ages, I don’t know why. The picture has come out reasonably well, but the light was terrible, so I’m going to try to have a play with it before posting. I was very conscious of my bare arm against John’s leather jacket.
Unfortunately by the time Ingrid had given me my camera back, John had moved away and been accosted by the heckler and the – presumably – Doctor Who fans, but I did manage to call out “thanks very much John” a bit later as he left.
I just have to say here, and I mean this in a positive way, not negative: in the flesh, John is not sweet! He is brooding and handsome and strong – or at least he was last night!
A comment: there seems to be a feeling that people should only expect to get things relating to the current role signed, and that people are being cheeky by presenting, for example, Mr Saxon pictures for signing if they haven’t even been in to see the play. But I don’t think these guys had piles of photos or anything. I wonder – how does anyone know how much those people have spent, and will spend, on buying DVDs, action figures, t-shirts, books, you name it, relating to John as the Master? I really can’t see John doing the Doctor Who conference circuit, so for people who think John is wonderful for his Doctor Who role, the Trafalgar stage door probably represents their best chance of getting to see him. Does not having seen Elling really make them less deserving of John’s autograph than anyone else?
After the cast had all gone, we stood around for a little while longer, then Angie-d organised a group shot which was nice, and she has posted it on her LJ. Eventually we broke up just before 11pm - hugs all round, lovely - to go back to our respective stations.
The final little gloss on the evening was on the train: halfway home, my mobile text alert went off, and it was a message from HappyLady. And the point of telling you this bit is that my text alert tone is John as The Master going “Oooh, new voice, HELLO, hello!”, and it always makes me jump a mile. It also got grins from everyone sitting around me!
The whole thing really felt like a night out with a bunch of old friends – so thanks to all of you, I had a lovely time!