Monday, 4 January 2010

man hugs tree in america

So, while here in Europe we shiver and slide on the ice, my good friend Tim Crouch is in balmy LA about to open An Oak Tree; the second play what he wrote.

It enjoyed a sell out run in Edinburgh when we opened it in 2005, it got rave reviews at the Soho Theatre in London two years ago, and hopefully it will cast a similar spell in Los Angeles in the coming weeks. Never mind how brilliantly directed it is. It's a piece of miniature genius in terms of its writing.

It was also a joy to direct (in a room above a pub in Barnes) with my very special colleague Andy Smith. And I only wish I could find a good enough excuse to go out to the West Coast of America and be with it again.

But there's no need. Tim will be brilliant anyway.

But for anyone who's not seen it and finds themselves in Tinsel Town - I urge you to go.

(Unless you want to be in it. In which case you should let me or Tim know really quite soon.)

The best reason for going, apart from the fact that it's a very beautiful piece of writing and a rather exquisite idea is that you'll see an actor perform alongside Tim who has no idea what's going to happen next... until it happens.

That's the way it works.

The Guest Actor has the play revealed to them as it goes along. So there's no rehearsal.

And there's no improvisation either. Every word that's said in the show has been written by Tim.

"How does he do it?" I imagine hearing you say. I can't tell you. Not here.

For those actors who choose to accept the invitation to be the Guest Actor, they get to do it just once.

(And obviously you can't do it if you've seen it. That would spoil the fun.)

So what's it like being the Guest Actor in An Oak Tree?

I asked a few friends who've done it to answer that very question in their own words and today, Hugh Bonneville, one of the gentlest and loveliest of men said this:

"Have you ever had that dream when suddenly you're no longer in your aircraft seat but instead you're outside the plane, rushing through thin air at 35,000 feet, miraculously held aloft somehow - petrified by the impossibility of it all but giddy with exhilaration?

Well, performing in An Oak Tree is a bit like that.

You can only do it once. But do it."

So there you go. If you fancy following in the footsteps of Mike Meyers, Frances McDormand, Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Okanedo and many other equally brave and talented souls...

Or if you simply can't bear the anticipation of finding out who does it next and you have to go along to see it...

Or if you have friends in LA and want them to find out for you...

Check out An Oak Tree in LA.

(Hot off the press: already booked in: Jason Alexander, Clancy Brown, Peter Gallagher, Beth Grant, John Rubinstein, and Kurtwood Smith)

P.S. We used not to give away who was doing it in advance... but as they say in theatre: "Box office is box office!"

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