I do not understand how I got to the position of having written one hundred entries in this blog (or “blentries”, as we bloggers call them). Still, it is a momentous occasion if you use a counting system based on multiples of ten. And I do, so hurrah.
This entry is, actually, going to be an unfettered ego trip. You see, I normally like to keep this thing anonymous, because good God, just suppose the Powers that Be knew who it was striking at them from his digital stronghold? Why, they… well, they might… they… Okay, they probably wouldn’t do anything. They probably don’t know this blog exists, if I’m totally honest.
Anyway, the reason I choose to write a blog entry that’s actually about me is because I found something interesting relating to an episode from the past. Oh yes, Yr. Humble Chronicler has a history. The thing I found was this.
This theatre review is for a little play I did at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. If you can’t be arsed to click on the link above, let me summarise. The play was a little piece called Martin Night, which you won’t have heard of, because frankly it was a bit of a flop. It had the misfortune of landing on top of a major fuel strike, which pretty much meant that we only had an audience in the first and last weeks.
The play was written by a chap named Joshua Goldstein and was directed by the late Dan Crawford. It was a shortish piece that starts out as a domestic comedy about a victimised teenager (described in the above review as a “specky tubster”, ably played by Yr. Humble Chronicler) and his domineering father. In the second act, it develops a disturbing undercurrent as it turns out that the father is a Holocaust survivor. The other cast members included Brian Protheroe, Kika Markham and Her Who Played Rose In The Demon Headmaster.
The play, as I said, was performed at the King’s Head. The King’s Head is a fascinating place. Opened in 1970 on Upper Street in Islington, it was the first pub theatre in Britain and was, basically, the beginning of the fringe movement in London. It had, and still has, a certain quirky charm due to its existence within an apparent time warp. At the time I was there, the Victorian cash register still worked in old money, thus meaning that a pint would cost two pounds and ten shillings (£2.50 in modern money – alas, the price has risen). The furniture was somewhat mismatched, the carpet in the dressing room was verging on hazardous and the roof leaked in the rain. I liked it immensely.
The theatre largely survived on goodwill. Several careers were launched there – Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood and Richard E. Grant among many others. Other big-name actors would often perform for the sheer kudos of being in a play there (speaking from experience, they sure as hell weren’t in it for the money). Indeed, the assistance of such luminaries was largely what kept the place afloat through near-constant times of financial turmoil.
Dan Crawford himself was about as close to a typical English eccentric as a guy from New Jersey could get. It was largely this eccentricity that led to the King’s Head’s reputation as a place to watch – risky propositions were a regular thing, from revivals of long-forgotten musicals to brand new pieces by untried writers. All on a stage six-by-twelve.
He sadly passed away in 2005, but the theatre survives in the hands of his wife, Stephanie. Its future seems assured for the time being. Of course, one can’t predict what lies far ahead, but I rather doubt the London theatre scene will ever let it go.
- This chap would appear to be claiming to have played the same role as Yr. Humble Chronicler, in the same play as Yr. Humble Chronicler, in the same production as Yr. Humble Chronicler. Most curious.