When I looked at my ticket and it said “unreserved standing” I was reminded of when I was about thirteen and dying to go to a Jamie Walters (who? Don’t ask…) concert and paid about £15 to stand up front. I’ve been to other concerts where I’ve ended up standing (and FYI Jamie decided to not do the concert after all!), but the coincidence was brought on by the price of my ticket. I envisioned the stage and myself standing there with my hands in the air (or not) for three hours. I was concerned for my back, to tell you the truth.
Then we were finally allowed inside, and the small room looks like the inside of a bus. Some seating, some standing, iron bars to hold onto, the works. There was a kid playing with an electric car in the middle aisle. Everyone found their seat/standing position, and suddenly I saw someone straight ahead of me, wearing a grey jumper and black jeans. It looked a helluva lot like Ben Miles. Just standing there, hanging with the audience. The most hilarious part was that nobody else seemed to have noticed, not even those next to him. Then the control to the car stopped working, and he helped the kid to put it back together. That was when it was a collective *gasp* going through the crowd, and little did we know that the play had already started.
Lasting 35 minutes (not three hours as previously feared), we see how a father (Ben Miles) goes to extremes to see his son when his ex-wife (Lia Williams) openly tells him his father is a loser. And possibly not even his father, as she had an affair at the time that he was conceived. What does it mean to be a good parent? What does it mean to be a man? These are questions this play raises. Is a man someone that’s strong, driven and provides? Is that a good father? Or is a good father someone that loves their child more than anything and goes to any lengths to be near them? Violence and hardship VS sensitive and caring. What matters in today’s world?
For me, Ben Miles just stole the performance. I saw him previously in Richard II at the Old Vic. There he acted alongside charismatic Kevin Spacey and they were equals up there. As the battered father of a son that prefers his rich stepfather is rather brilliant. The play, written by newcomer Mike Bartlett, is rather brilliantly directed by Sacha Wares. It cuts between scenes in a way that there’s no doubt one scene has ended and another one starts – even though it happens rather frequently and without warning. Many of the actors were sitting amongst us, threw out a line here and there, and you don’t really know they’re part of the play until you hear someone next to you speaking. (Watch yourself so you don’t end up smacking someone for speaking during the performance – 😉 )
Fantastic performances, great script, good fun. “My Child” is on from 3rd May until 2nd June at the Royal Court – Jerwood Theatre.
An unrelated but totally embarrassing story
When I saw Ben in the bar after “Richard II” I thought I would just say that I liked his performance, and ended up saying something along the lines of “I really enjoyed your interpretation of Bollingbrooke in this production.” That was all I really had to say, considering Shakespeare isn’t exactly on my ‘I’m highly competent in’ list. He was about to order a drink when I said that. I’ve said similar things to actors before, and every time you get “thank you” and they move on. It was a mistake to assume this would be the case every time, cause in this instant it wasn’t.
He turned, looked at me, smiled heartily and said, “Really! Well thank you very much!” – with added enthusiasm so I’d say something else. I was completely blank. I was taken aback. Me, shy, totally sober and zero knowledge of Shakespeare. Him, confident (and ever so slightly good lookin’!), also sober and up for a chat. We stood in silence. For possibly a minute. It was awkward. He really must have thought I was a total arse. The L on my forehead went from virtually non-existent to being in pink neon and blinking. I rounded off by saying “Anyway…” and excused myself.