Monday, May 23, 2011

Move Over, Mrs. Markham

Until now, I've never thought much about my underpants.

Is this the face that launched a thousand ships? No. It isn't.
My name is Erik Harrison, and I play Alistair Spenlow in Move Over, Mrs. Markham. I'm also a bit of a loudmouth - that may be why the producers asked me to write about the experience of putting the show together.

The last few weeks before a show opens are a mad dash. Early weeks are actors miming imaginary telephones and directors saying "Okay, try it again, only funny". The show is, at best, theoretical. Then it becomes terrifyingly actual. Props are coming in thick and fast, costumers start forcing clothes on you like your mom on a school morning, people in overalls with loud machines start building things and suddenly you want to say "Wait, no stop! I didn't know this was going to get so bloody serious!" Lots of people have put lots of time into sewing and painting and chopping and finding and designing and you're the diva actor who can't be buggered to remember his lines.

You've got the easy job and you've still been slacking off.

If you're me (which you aren't, thank goodness. I mean, look at that chin!) then this is made all the worse by how much not-slacking-off your fellow actors have been doing. Most of them are funny, and the rest are extremely funny. If you're James Raby (which you also aren't, unfortunate for you) you can shut rehearsal down with five solid minutes of laughter just by saying the word "butler".

So here I am, in the flurry of set and props and looming deadlines, hoping against hope to get in just one laugh in the presence of such talented colleagues when I realize, halfway through taking my belt off on stage that I had forgotten to put on my prop pants.

Markham is bedroom farce at its best. It's got mistaken identities, doors opening and shutting at exactly the right time, over the top characters and, well, the occasional interior designer engaged in a business transaction wearing less than is traditionally appropriate. In the past when this particular scene has come up, I've worn a pair of rather expansive slacks over my usual jeans, just so that we can rehearse the comedy without any more than a minimal loss to my already reduced dignity. But this time I had forgotten. This time I had unfastened my belt mid-scene before the full reality of my situation dawned upon me.

For the first time since I convinced my mother to purchase Super Mario briefs, I gave more than passing thought to what I was wearing underneath my jeans as I pushed them to the ground.

It got the laugh. I'm not proud.

Buy tickets for LTA's Move Over Mrs Markham


  1. that scene is worth the price of admission :: if I may be so BOLD ;)

  2. Great post Erik. Can't wait to see the show!