Last Saturday evening I went to the first preview performance of Made Up at Birmingham Rep. I admit to having been more than a little nervous as I walked into the venue as I’ve seen, I think for the first time, a glimpse of the huge effort that goes into putting something of this scale on. The run at the Rep finishes with a performance on Saturday evening and from 24th May – 11th June, Stan’s Cafe are taking the production on a tour of venues in the North East (details here).
The reason I’ve witnessed so much of the process is that Emily has been commuting from our home in Derby to Birmingham during the development and rehearsal process. As I like to be surprised by the theatre I do go to see (that’s the same excuse I use for never having read any Shakespeare by the way), I’ve tried not to listen too much to the stories that have made their way back along the A38 to us, but it was hard not to get caught up a little.
The play is a truly enjoyable 75 minutes that allows us to get to know more about the two characters and their back stories. Kate (played by Emily Holyoake) is a young film star and Sue (played by Alexis Tuttle) is her make-up artist. The contrasts between Kate and Sue’s professional personas and the people they are in their personal lives are played out, bracketed by some amazing transformations in Kate’s appearance through the real-time application of make-up. The staging is simple and so allows you to focus on the characters and the transformations, but it does make very effective use of live and pre-recorded video. Without wanting to give away too much, the ‘alien’ transformation is great comedy, with the ‘punk’ transformation being used to make some of the play’s strongest and most poignant statements.
Afterwards I really enjoyed meeting Emily’s fellow cast member, Alexis, as well as some of the production crew in the bar (but of course!). In particular, I felt completely ‘Made Up’ when an audience member approached Emily for an autograph – definitely a “proud father” moment.