The 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala turns 10 and celebrates with the new talent Douglas Booth, Jake Whitehall and Robert Sheehan
It’s nearly 8 o’clock on Sunday evening. At the Old Vic Theatre have already been uncorked dozens of bottles of Champagne Taittinger, have already been taken hundreds of photos and, more importantly, is already started fundraising in support of Old Vic New Voices.
24 actors, six writers and six directors met each-others in the rehearsal room at 10 o’clock on Saturday evening where Steve Winter, director of Old Vic New Voices, explained them the program.
“We’re going to do six plays. The writers will begin writing at midnight, and will have roughly six hours to make a play about 10 to 15 minutes long, each with about four actors. They then go to bed and you guys come back in the morning. You rehearse from about nine to seven – and then we open the house to 1,000 people”.
The lights go out, and a video shot by Uppercut Films shows us the salient moments of the past 22 hours.
The feelings that emerge from images are … terror, fatigue, tension, and terror …..
After few words from Artistic Director, Kevin Spacey and with the amazing introduction by Rob Brydon, it’s time for the stars to show their work.
It’s up to Tom Cullen, Jeff Fahey, Nathan Steward- Jarrett and Jack Whitehall to break the ice with a play written by Jesse Armstrong and direct by Michael Longhurst about the hard work for a sit-com production.
Subsequently are Zawe Ashton, Tom Ellis, Allen Leech and Annabelle Scholey to take possession of the stage with the performance So much once by Alice Birch ….a series of first dates … “very special”.
To finish the first part of the program, in The womb by Cush Jumbo, the homosexual couple formed by Clive Rowe and Neil Stuke, is facing a scam practiced by Tina Hobley (the only one in the evening to forget a line; inconvenience brilliantly patched from the rest of the cast) and Lesley Sharp.
The play ends with a shootout that sees as accidental victim, the Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey.
After the interval with cocktails sponsored by the famous brand of Russian vodka Beluga, it’s time for the last three plays.
The garden of Ms Harriet Figg by Matt Hartley with Kaya Scodelario, Catherine Tate and Jaime Winston highlights the brilliant interpretation of Robert Sheehan …an enslaved boyfriend forced to all kinds of humiliation.
They leave the stage and it’s time to change.
Challenged by a difficult monologue lasting a couple of minutes ( which as far as I seem are like twenty) Douglas Booth is talking with a fake head in his hands. At that moment, it really seems the dress rehearsal for the Hamlet that he’d love to bring on stage. The young actor leaves the stage with the awareness of a growing artistic maturity and a test passed with full marks.
Filed Rosie, Adam, Kyle & Rosie by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, now is time of the last performance.
Intervetion by Matt Charman is the story of an actor, a really Casanova man, put in front of all the people (men and women) to which he has broken the heart, without regard, over the years.
This is an opportunity to bring on stage the entire cast of the evening: a brilliant ending for a wonderful evening.
Some plays were brilliant, other much less, but the important thing is to see the satisfaction in the eyes of the actors outside the Old Vic leaving for their special party at the Rosewood Hotel.
I look at Freddie Fox in the hall waiting for his coat and I wonder how melancholy can be to watch the evening from the audience after two years on stage.
The night ends with a wonderful party at Rosewood Hotel, but the fundraising continues on eBay where the Old Vic is selling the props that the actors brought with them at the first meeting intended to inspire the writers. The First Hand ( a group of illustrators and designers) is also selling all the drawings made during the 24 hours.
So, it’s time to start the countdown for the next 24 Hour Celebrity Gala on the one hand and to bit, bit, bit on the other.