I always knew tonight would be an interesting evening. Two plays in one night – one with a Mick Ronson theme, the other Bowie. But what makes this an extra special evening is the fact that I was a contributor to the Bowie play and the character Jasmine, speaks my own words about him.
The evening started in the foyer, with two girls, aged 13 and 14 giving some beautiful interpretations of some well-known Bowie numbers.
This Is For You is a play about a love story. John asks out Suzi and their first date is a Mick Ronson gig. They fall in love but when Suzi finds out she is pregnant her dad decides to move up north and insists she has an abortion. The story continually flicks between Suzi’s current life and when they were young and it is played out extremely well.
The set is like a café and we, the audience, are sitting at the tables so we really feel the intimacy between the characters, their shared love of Ronson (whose music plays in the background) and of the turmoil of their lives. Suzi (current day) is played by Natascha Thomas and she really understands the importance of using pause for effect as well as offering a range of emotions which were so intense, I even wiped a tear from my eye watching her. Fabulous performance. Ian (John’s brother) is played by James Bratby and he is also an outstanding performer and together they gave a real chemistry. Along with the rest of the cast they really give this play the drama and emotion it requires.
Written by Matt Beames and Mark Wheeller and directed by Mark this play gives even those with no knowledge of Mick Ronson, a theme that everyone can relate to; that of love and separation.
This Is For You is the perfect play for 2017 with Hull being named the city of culture.
During the interval, we were lucky enough to have a couple of songs from Charlie Fowler aka David Live tribute act. He gave us The Supermen, Queen Bitch and Ziggy Stardust to a rapturous applause.
Then Mark mentioned the contributors to the next play and asked each actor whose character they play to present a bottle of wine to each. I was given my bottle by Kate who plays me in the show. Then it was on to the second play of the evening, Can You Hear Me Major Tom?
Can You Hear Me Major Tom? is a play about how some people felt when they heard the news. I can’t even bring myself to type it here but you know what news I am referring to. That dreadful day in January 2016. It was the type of day that you remember where you were and what you were doing. This play takes the words of seven real people whose lives Bowie has touched in some way and they tell the story through their own words.
This would be emotional if it didn’t feature me, but with my own words being shared by my doppelganger Kate Potter, it was real raw emotions and I can say I cried a few times watching it.
The play dips in and out of the characters’ lives switching between them all but we get a picture of how Bowie in many different ways made a big difference to the characters. It features the story of Mary Finnigan,(played by Katy Penfold), who knew him before he was famous and tells of her very personal attachment to him and when he lived with her. It is a nice contrast to the other stories featuring the fans and their emotions. There is Wendy (played by Hayley Anastasia Adamson) who tells about her brother passing away when she was only nine years old but his love of Bowie was shared with Wendy and continues to this day. It tells the story of Charlie Fowler (played by Lewis Evans) who is a Bowie tribute and tells us how he felt responsible for people’s grief at his gigs after that day. It tells the story of Mark (played by Ross Hobby) and how Mark didn’t cry about his death when he heard the news, but instead was transfixed by the media literally all day long. And amongst the other cast, it tells the story of me, played by Kate Potter who is extraordinary at playing me and my emotions. She is an exceptional actor and really demonstrates my emotions of why I loved him; her crazy dancing to the Bay City Rollers (how did she know me so well?) and the reasoning behind my tattoo (which Kate had a copy of on her wrist).
The show was inter-woven with Bowie songs and voice clips beaming through of quotes he has said over the years. It really made the show feel so raw and intimate.
“I’m always surprised people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.”
“I’d like my death to be as interesting as my life has been and will be.”
There was no question of who we were talking about. The set was simple with four stands of Bowie throughout the years (Space Oddity, Aladdin Sane, Labyrinth and the final photo shoot) which also brought home the breath of his life and how much he has achieved.
Written by Mark Wheeller and directed by Lewis Evans, this show is outstanding and I sincerely hope it gets a chance for others to see it (there is talk of it being performed at Beckenham - which would be wonderful) but if you see it advertised – don’t hesitate to buy a ticket. It is a heart-stopper of a play!
Photos of both plays shared with kind permission of Chris Webb.
Photos of after the show – Jasmine Storm