by Helen Kelly
It’s an odd experience to sit at your kitchen table with an old friend and pretend to be in a couple, of thirty years standing from Erdington with two adult children and a garden room. But that’s what myself and Liz John have been doing for the next BOLDtext show, SUNSTROKE – playing at the Rep on Monday 7th September.
We haven’t exactly been pushing a manual typewriter between us as did Patti Smith and Sam Shepard when they wrote their play Cowboy Mouth in New York in 1971 (we’re neither iconic nor cool – sorry to break it to you, Liz). It’s been more of a verbal process plus scribbles, a bit of typing, a bit of gossip, a smidge of confusion:
‘I thought I was the man.’
‘No. You’re the woman, I’m the man’
‘But I don’t like the woman.’
‘You can get to like the woman.’
‘I’m not sure I’ve got time to like the woman.’
‘Well I’m already in the psyche of the man.’
‘But I’m not in the psyche of the woman.’
‘You can get in the psyche of the woman.’
‘I can’t get into the psyche of the woman.’
‘Of course you can, you are a woman.’
‘But I’ve only got five days before we go to Eurocamp…’
I’m sure Sam and Patti had similar discussions (in their own achingly cool groundbreakingly androgynous way) as they pushed the old Olivetti back and forth.
So now Liz has left me alone to kick the actual script off. She’s abandoned me for Budapest not Eurocamp (glamorous sod) and I am expected to produce a whole six pages over the three days she is away. (Okay, Patti and Sam wrote their entire play in two days but I don’t know where to buy those kinds of drugs). I’m not complaining too much at having to do the beginning because everyone knows it’s endings that are really hard.
Do come along and see how we’ve done (and if we’re still speaking – that can be observed in the bar afterwards). We, and our characters, Megan and Dave, would be so pleased if you could make it. (PS any resemblance to ourselves or our respective partners is purely coincidental. There is no such place as Erdington.)
SUNSTROKE is in The Door at Birmingham Repertory Theatre at 8pm on Monday 7th September. It’s FREE but booking is essential via Rep box office or on 0121 236 4455.
Photo: Liz’s holiday snap from Budapest to ‘cheer me up’