By Genevieve Barr
“Yes it’s coming….AAAAHHH.”
Having never given birth myself, it’s probably not an equitable comparison to the insurmountable task of putting together ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’. But after many hours of…labour (sorry), we are now in Plymouth where the days counting down to Opening Night are in the single digits.
This week is “Tech Week” – where the set design, lighting, music, choreography and – of course – the acting, all come together. The days are long and the process arduous but for Arthur and I (or maybe just I) it is like hurtling through space through a post office queue, a cinema, a bridge on the Thames and crashing onto earth in a hospital bed. Monday is looming.
It has an incredible privilege and experience working on this show, there’s been ribaldry, tears and hissy fits (but only one), and the extraordinary efforts that has gone into building this bed on a wall is truly remarkable. I have no doubt that the audience are coming to come into the auditorium and gasp with awe, and hopefully will continue to revel with the help of my masterful acting skills.
And if not mine, then certainly Arthur’s.
The challenges of tech week have brought about a new experience for me – that of having an interpreter. Being deaf and growing up in a hearing family, I’ve always been very well adapted to finding coping mechanisms when there has been lots of people talking or sitting around a bonfire in the dark or listening to music. But having the support here this week when a million different sounds, lights and movements have been thrown in my face on stage, it’s been really helpful.
Though people do seem to forget that I’m not very good at sign language. And so sometimes, I’m left even more clueless than when I started!
The other challenge has been really pulling together all those different elements to the character I’m playing to make one cohesive whole.
The number of people who have lost children whom I have spoken to since starting this play have given me a very stark realisation of the pain and grief that such a tragedy can bring and for me, the responsibility of conveying that has been very hard to shoulder. On top of that, so much of this play is comedy – a hilarity and playfulness that makes the entire ensemble smack of pathos. This is a play about the love that two people share for one another through the good times and the hard times. This is a rollercoaster like one I have never been on before – steep summits and plummets, twists and turns and we will take you, the audience, with us on this journey from start to finish.
So savour the moments we give you and cherish them with us. Live through our pain and our joy and bear with us sometimes – it’s a difficult journey to share. Although there are moments of abject terror and a brace of nerves, we can’t wait to start ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’ next Monday. And if we don’t see you here in Plymouth, we hope you’ll catch us in Edinburgh!