Sunday theatre question: A song you always associate a play
Review: Walden, Harold Pinter Theatre - space, the frontier that feels too much of stretch

Lockdown London theatre walks: Southwark Playhouse and my stage debut with Freddie Fox

I made my London stage debut alongside Freddie Fox at the Southwark Playhouse. It's not how I anticipated the evening panning out as I chose a seat on the front row (it was unallocated seating) to watch a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Southwark Playhouse Feb 2021

Poly was supposed to be with me but hadn't been able to make it, so I was on my own. I entirely blame her for what happened. The actors would never have chosen me to play a flower had she been sat beside me. I'm convinced.

I should probably mention that a comic device of this production was that it had too few actors to play all the parts - seven actors when there are 17 characters  - and only about four props. The fourth wall was broken at the start as we were asked to use our imagination.  

But I didn't need to imagine being dragged onto the stage to play the 'love-in-idleness' blossom which Oberon uses for a love potion.

Despite wanting to imagine being back in my seat, it wasn't easy when the actor playing Oberon was holding my hand, delivering an impassioned speech while looking deep into my eyes.

I thought I conveyed mortification and embarrassment without words particularly well.

However, when the scene was over, and I was able to return to my seat, I got the first laugh of the play by stepping around the tree we'd been asked to imagine in the middle of the stage. #proud

But it didn't end there.

At various points during the play, I was drawn back on stage. At one point, I was taken backstage while waiting to reappear and introduced to the actors who were waiting to go on. Cue awkward 'hello's' (from me).

At another point, I had Freddie Fox (did I mention Freddie was in it?) sat next to me with his hand casually along the back of my chair as if we were old friends.

The evening finished with me on stage, holding hands with Freddie taking a bow.

And while I have absolutely no desire ever to tread the boards, it makes for a brilliant memory - and story to tell.

If you want the full story of my stage appearance and review of the play (although I might be biased), you can find it here: A Midsummer Night's Dream,

My history with the Southwark Playhouse goes back to when it was housed under the railway tracks at London Bridge before the station got redeveloped and the theatre moved down the road to Elephant and Castle.

My Rev Stan avatar is a picture of the ladies loo sign from that venue made out of lego, although it had started losing the odd brick.

I've seen a ton of great stuff at the Southwark Playhouse. It's another theatre with well-used flexible space, so you never know quite what the staging will be until you walk into the auditorium.

It was at the Southwark Playhouse I saw a very nervous Max Irons in Farragut North. He looked notably relieved at the curtain call, but it was the first performance that must always be terrifying. 

When the theatre had to move, they did a fundraising campaign to pay for the extra seating they needed, so I sponsored a seat that apparently means my name is on the underside of a seat - Rev Stan, not my real name. Would love to spot it.

What is your favourite memory from a visit to the Southwark Playhouse?

Some other notable mentions from the Southwark Playhouse:

You Stupid Darkness! - saw this in January 2020 when the pandemic was starting to send ripples, but before we knew exactly where it would head. It was a perfect play for the time set in the call centre of a charity that helps people look on the bright side when everything is grim in the world.

Farragut North - A nervous Max Irons makes it through the first performance.

The Grand Guignol - horror-comedy at its best.

I Am Camera - Stan-fav Harry Melling as Christopher Isherwood

Tender Napalm - when Philip Ridley was firing on all cylinders.