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Up West

Half way through my run of Yes Prime Minister and the play is now proving less of a mountain to climb. Audiences have been fascinating to follow. Ranging from the energetically hysterical in appreciation, to the 'is there anybody out there tonight at all?' There must be studies on audience make-up and the chemistry that exists at certain performances and then evaporates at others. A craftsperson must never blame their tools. Nor should an actor blame an audience for any perceived lack of energy or vocal appreciation on their part. Also it must be acknowledged that a quiet audience is not necessarily one that is disliking the play. Very often a positive reaction at the curtain call can catch you by surprise, after a low level energy reaction to the previous two hour traffic of the stage. This is primarily an observation about comedy. Dramas have their own distinct signs of audience appreciation - silence and a lack of sweet wrappers rustling being two that come to mind. There is of course the school of thought that suggests actors should be totally unaware of such things, their senses buried deep within the world of character and play. Well of course! Isn't that a given?  But with a comedy you have to receive and respond to laughter or indeed lack of it as and when they occur.

The fact remains that no two performances are ever the same. Actor's performances and energy levels change constantly. Concentration and relaxation vary on a daily basis. You never quite know how it will be on the night and that's what makes it such a fascinating process for both audiences and players.

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