Finding Hedgehog!

We’ve been doing LOOP for so long, we’ve forgotten what it’s like putting a new piece of work out there.

For ages it’s been, “we’ll have a couple of rehearsals there, we’ll just dust the show off and we’ll be ready to go” that we’ve forgotten how nerve rackingly terrifying it is to start creating a new play from scratch.

As the writer, the biggest fear is “well, I have no idea whether this material works”. But that’s not entirely true. The very first incarnation of Hedgehog was performed at Hatch’s new work night in Waterloo in Spring 2018.

That was the first time Manda’s words had been spoken aloud, and we got a sense of how the audience would respond to her.

But beyond a few laughs and a few lines of dialogue, we really have no idea what to expect.

This play was commissioned and written in January 2018, before we had any idea that LOOP was going to have a further life. So when I got stuck in to creating a character specifically for Zoe, it was with the full expectation that this piece would see the light of day, at the latest, summer of that year

And then came Stratford East. And the megabus to the always mighty 53two (who, rest assured, are going to return with a vengeance to take Manchester by storm, as they always have and always will). And then came a month of temperamental weather and well-trodden cobbles and more than a few late nights, as we made the Underbelly our home.

But all roads led to Kentish Town. And as we make that wonderfully versatile studio our new base, we knew it was time to get back to the Spice Girls, and Mr Jenkins’ shop off the high street, and to stand on the edge of the dance floor.

The fantastic women from LOOP are returning, (have I mentioned the twins from the Shining being really quite creepy? You’ll see what I mean when you come to the show) and they’re being led by the phenomenal Georgia Richardson, who’s grounding the show in an uncomfortable reality.

The reality that everything’s not always alright beneath the surface. Even if that surface seems fine. Seems funny. Seems bright. There might be something horrible beneath.

We’ve got three weeks until intensive rehearsals. There are props to source and stressful moments bound to be ahead. But a new one’s coming.

We haven’t had that feeling for a couple of years. And it’s exciting.


Living on Fringe Time

So we’re halfway through.

Apparently Fringe time is a thing, where your whole life while you’re up here just sweeps past in one long day, punctuated only by excessive drinking, watching a cornucopia of good (and sometimes hysterically bad) performances, and   the odd couple of hours of sleep, before you drag yourself up again and have to shove some more culture in to your eye sockets and through to your brain, or flyer for your own show, so other people can shove what you’ve created into their brain.

But it’s grand. I mean, it’s absolutely insane. The fact that for one month, a city that normally conducts itself in much the same way as any other, turns into a twisting labyrinth of theatres, black box spaces around every corner, above and below every bar, inside every lecture hall and no matter where you turn, there’s a flyer to be pushed into your hand.

And we feel like we’re holding our own in this madness. Audience figures have climbed every day, we’ve had some lovely audience feedback and quotes to be had; the highlight has to have been people coming up to us on the street and saying how much they’ve enjoyed LOOP, how it spoke to them and what they took from it. We’re doing this, holding our own, despite not being the biggest show at the fringe, despite not having massive billboards everywhere you look, despite all this, people are coming to see our show day in, day out.

We have seen some brilliant, brilliant stuff. Just to name a few – Violet by Poor Michelle, written and performed by Bebe Saunders, was a beautiful look at aging and friendship, well written and wonderfully performed. The Loop Troop unanimously loved the critically acclaimed Flesh & Bone, proclaiming it “one of the most important plays of the year”. It has to be mentioned that we have seen Eastlake Production’s own Very Blue Peter about 4 times now – an insane, anarchic, unaired episode of Blue Peter from 1998,with a man in a skin-tight gimp suit, a football hooligan who the presenters thought was 7 years old (he’s 27) and some of the most quotable, cult-y lines we’ve ever come across in a play (“Sure aren’t I WELL?!”)

Just today, we saw 3 Years, 1 Week & a Lemon Drizzle with was an absolute breath of fresh air from the Donnachie sisters – important, yet always funny. Poignant, but never self indulgent. Such a great, joyous show.

Navigating the festival has been a mad one. We’ve stayed out late, too late, and our general health has started to fray a little – those tickly coughs and sore throats are rearing their heads. Butwe’ll be alright. We’ll leave you on these pieces of advice from the Troop:

Zöe: Have one day off from the Fringe, where you don’t see any theatre. Away from the madness. Just to refresh the mind.

Alex: Go to bed. Get yourself to bed once in a while. For God’s sake, get some sleep.

Aaron: Stay hydrated. Breathe deeply in the shower.

Emily: See good stuff. Book to see good stuff, so you don’t miss out. Book stuff early, so you’re not disappointed.

Lucy: Don’t stop drinking water otherwise you’ll be screwed very quickly. Doesn’t matter how much you drink of other stuff, just keep drinking water.

James: Abuse your discount alcohol lanyard. And climb Arthur’s Seat. Not necessarily in that order.

Here’s to the other half.

We’ll sleep in September.

Love & Boogie,

BoxLess xx