The Full Monteverdi

Revisiting the past
January 12, 2007, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Filming

Rehearsals started with a group read-through of the script, with Marcus (1st AD) adding in the stage directions. It’s easy to forget quite how unfamiliar the different couples are with each other’s stories (though we did plenty of hot-seating as part of the original show), especially now that I have now defined the pasts of each couple more specifically by writing flashbacks. The result was an amusing mix of pantomime-style hisses and loaded comments from the cast, mostly directed at those whose characters seem to have made particularly harsh choices along the way. Unexpectedly (coming out of my desire to imply a geographical relationship between the restaurant and the bar), Carys found that she is often seen passing “in b.g.”, leading to a few teasing comments courtesy of Sammy (surprise, surprise). Thereafter, any object “in b.g.” came in for a hard time.

After a Q&A session – establishing, for example, that the ‘morning after’ scenes are sung ‘live’ to distinguish them from the flashbacks – the couples then worked on the script independently. Although each member of the cast had had seen several versions of the screenplay over the previous months, this was the first opportunity for both partners to discuss their lives together – past, present and future.

We also discussed a fundamental change to the ‘restaurant’ scenes: these would retain their essence and meaning from the show but would be altered by the new naturalism. Previously, much of the interactions within couples took place standing up because it felt right, emotionally, and afforded the audience a better view, rather than because one would have needed to stand in reality. Now, however, their neighbours are fellow diners and no more, so some of the action has to be reinvented. Having established this, we attempted a mini-run-through (remember, the team has more than 70 shows behind it), giving everyone a chance to gauge their use of the space, the pace of the screenplay and the relationship between flashback and present. Though it’s obvious on paper, even I was slightly surprised by quite how little of the film actually takes place in the restaurant. That’ll be the long list of locations, then…

The remainder of the week was spent with the couples individually. We dug around a lot in the back-stories and psychologies of each character (we’re all dysfunctional, it seems, especially me), improvising scenes implied by the flashbacks, as well as the scenes themselves. Meanwhile, the couples also spent time with Mair and Cate, making final decisions about costume and make-up for the weeks to come.

All in all, I happy to report that the cast seems as prepared as it is eager to face the exciting road ahead.


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