A Night At The Theatre

Do you ever have those days where you wake up feeling beautiful, refreshed, alive? Well, I had one of those a few days ago. I damn-near sang my way into the shower, emerged, with a neat hop, skip and a jump, clean and be-towelled, before waltzing into my clothes. My ponytail looked perfect the first time around, and my make-up hand was steady. My I-feel-gorgeous feeling lasted all day, before coming to an abrupt stop in the early evening. Why? Because I walked into an auditorium of young, nubile and impossibly attractive actors, that’s why. My self-esteem, ridiculously high even at the worst of times, dipped dangerously low…

My friend A works at LAMDA and I have been benefiting from his fine career choices by taking in some excellent nights at the theatre. An example? I got to see Spring Awakening before it even opened. Yeah, I’m that chick. This time, I was privileged to witness what the Academy calls with winning simplicity, Fight Night.

Brad Pitt, bloody and ripped and... why is this here again? Oh yeah. To illustrate 'stage combat'. Ahem.

Brad Pitt, bloody and ripped and... why is this here again? Oh yeah. To illustrate 'stage combat'. Ahem.

Fight Night is awesome. It’s basically a chance for the apprentice actors to showcase some of the stage combat skills they’ve been honing all year. The following day, they sit their exams, and are judged by the masters, people with lifelong performance careers with stints in such places as the RSC, The National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Royal Opera House, The English National Opera and The Young Vic, to name a few. Previous winners of Fight Night include such famous names as Toby Stephens (James Bond villain and son of Dame Maggie Smith), David Oyelowo, Richard Armitage (these two Spooks alumni were in the same year at LAMDA) and Alexis Denisof (Alyson Hannigan’s husband, who played Wesley in Buffy and Angel).

There were some truly awesome things to be seen at the academy’s MacOwan Theatre in Kensington. Students were basically showcasing their combat skills, but often dressed them up in a pretty package with accompanying dialogue and plot. So, there was an amazing fencing display by two first year actresses set at a wedding in an unidentified Spanish town. There was a fearsome spear and sword fight between Hector and Achilles, which descended into bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat. Then there was a zany (in a good way) mute comedy sequence involving 2 men with red noses and ripped bodies. There was a Medieval battle where the actors made use of a mace, axe and swords. There was a lovingly recreated scene from The Mask of Zorro culminating in 3 swift sword strokes that made a ‘Z’ in the back of a white shirt, complete with fake blood. And my favourite, a truly swashbuckling fight between Dumas’ titular Count of Monte Cristo and his rival Fernand Mondego. It was blisteringly good. I’ve made a note of their names and I’m hoping to spot these young men and women on stage and screen in years to come.

After the winners were announced and the awards presented, we retired to a nearby pub to rake over the performances. On my way out, I brushed past ‘Hector’, a swarthy young man with a headful of curls. I like to think I’m a cool customer, but it was all I could do not to flutter uselessly and blush. When acting’s good, it’s really good…

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