The Winterfood Diaries

The Winterfood Diaries

Monday, 29 January 1990

At the West Yorkshire Playhouse


‘Ultra-Modern Nursery Rhyme’ – Terry, Blair & Anoushka

And today I went to the West Yorkshire PLAYHOUSE in Leeds – a very impressive but utterly unfinished building.  It’s not, as yet, officially open.  I was expecting a dingy little old theatre, full of ‘arty’, pretentious young actors and was very surprised to find it was more of a modern, highly-condensed NT.

I met the DIRECTOR’S ASSISTANT, Kay (with whom I’d arranged the placement), at 1.45pm and she took me through the unfinished complex and down into the expansive Rehearsal Room where I was introduced lots of backstage people, actors, and the DIRECTOR of the first production – WILD OATSJude.

The whole thing was the first time everyone had been together in one room and was being filmed as part of a documentary or something by a TV crew.  The cast were friendly and open and several people made me feel welcome to start with and there were handshakes and greetings, etc.  But I think I just kind of dried up and made a pratt of myself.  That said, in the cafeteria-sized Green Room later in the day, I did get chatting to one guy who is doing the sign language version alongside the play as the company perform it.  Given the play’s language-style, I’m sure that’s quite a challenging prospect.

Anyway, we were all shown the final set design (very intricate), and Jude explained why she wanted to direct this play (but hoped it didn’t descend into mere BBC-style costume drama) and then, at 2pm, the actors did a read-through of the play – WILD OATS by John O’Keeffe – and it’s excellent; an entertaining 18th century play somewhat reminiscent of a Shakespeare comedy.  Highly funny.

As this was the first time the cast had been assembled, it seemed to go quite well – if a little unevenly paced. 

‘Adrenochrome’ – Sisters of Mercy

The production crew are, as follows:

Jude Kelly
– Director
Robert Jones
– Designer
Jenny Cave
– Lighting
(of Anything More Would Be Greedy, whom I saw in Antony & Cleopatra)
– Fight Director
Chris Moncks
– Musical Director
Karen Howard
– Book

The company – familiar from TV and other stage productions – are, as follows:

Linda Gardner, Robin Bowerman, John Axon, Mark Lindley, Helen Schlesinger, Tom Craig, David Fleeshman, Chris Tummings, Joan Carol Williams, Murray Melvin (who’s lovely), Robert Austin, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ian Sharrock (of Emmerdale Farm), Sam Kelly (of ‘Allo ‘Allo!) and Reece Dinsdale (of lots of things) - who'd be a great Doctor Who!

Reece is perhaps the most adept of the lot.  He’s VERY GOOD – and very intelligent.

It was an entertaining afternoon/evening but most of the time I felt a little self-conscious ‘intruding’ there; like I was an imposter who had no right to be involved.  My own paranoia and inadequacy, I think. 

‘Imperial’ – Primal Scream

Mmmm.  I’ve been so ill, recent nights, and only upon going to bed.  An ache in my left arm + on that side of my chest.   Sometimes the pain is quite incredible.  God!  I miss Lilith, and Amy too, if I’m honest.  I think Amy loves me like hell.  I doubt I’d be much good to either of them, dead of a heart attack…

Amy says she would do anything for me and that is a very interesting and enticing idea.  I think she wants to keep me under whatever circumstance.  She says she’s devoted to me and – my god – would even marry me.  And she said that in all sincerity!  I do fancy her.  I really do – insatiably.  I just don’t know how much I could love her in the way she would like me to.

And Lilith leaving is still fresh.  The thought that I will never see you again, Lili.  And only if I’m very lucky will I ever read your written words or possibly hear your beautiful voice (no accent, did I ever say?  So well-spoken) on the cassette you will call The Haunting.

How I wish we had parted in silence and tears.  I love you so.  How I wish I had embraced you.  Held you.

I hear Byron now.



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Next time: ‘Reece and Jude…’

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