Theatre: The ABC of Show Boating in Dublin – Antibiotics, Cortisone And Depression

August 10, 2014



Write and rewrite is the theme for this fourth and final Show Boat Tour update. On Monday night I started my piece like this: “I don’t think I deserve to love Dublin. I haven’t seen much or done much. I haven’t had the luck of the Irish either. But I love Dublin. Perhaps my last day tomorrow will make up for my lack of wanderlust? I have a day of real tourism planned.” I wrote a few pages more and then I went to bed… So scrap that! I had a full day of sight-seeing in Dublin and now I feel like I can justify my love of Ireland, the Irish and Irish coffee.

dublin1Doing Dublin.

My “doing of Dublin” last week included O’Conelley Street shopping, Temple Bar tippling, headstands on the lawn of the Trinity College, Chapter One glutton-ing (the opposite of glut-toning), pouring the perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar tippling again, an Irish song and dance at the Arlington and the crafty commandeering an Irish tour guide. But, for the first four days there I was either in bed or on stage. Feeling, of course very frustrated with the necessity of the former.

In the last two days, after the rest of the cast left for home, I added to that list with a street festival in Celbridge with my cousins and their kids, arranging to meet said Irish tour guide and then feeding ducks in Phoenix Park, seeing Christ Church Cathedral, visiting Vikings at Dublinia and reminding myself that I actually did read the first chapter of Ulysses in university while standing in the James Joyce museum. Finally, I indulged in Dublin’s best 99 at Teddy’s in Sandycove. A 99 is actually just a soft serve and a flakey. It doesn’t even cost 99c.

Up to now, I’ve been a bit “toured out” and I haven’t been well. I ended up coughing up dark green stuff for a few days and lost my voice entirely in the process of ignoring my evident illness and performing in denial for a week. I really haven’t had a great tour health-wise. I’ve been that unfortunate one who does everything right, takes her vitamins, goes to bed early (most nights) and then still gets sick and stays sick after two courses of antibiotics and three days of cortisone. I eventually conceded and went to the doctor. I was basically told that I looked terrible and that I was a step away from pneumonia. You can dance on a broken foot, but if you lose your foot it becomes problematic. I lost my voice (I’ve never experienced something quite so terrifying before) and as hard as I tried, I simply could not sing a silent solo in front of 2 000 people.

 dublin2 The “cover-up” operation.

I managed a husky, playful Kim on opening night in Dublin, and then I slept for a full 24 hours before I worked my way back on to the stage. I’ve never had an understudy go on for me before and I hated it (even though I love Victoria *blows exaggerated kiss*). I hated being in bed. I tracked the show time-wise from my pillow and felt miserable and hard done by. Worst day ever. I feel fully justified in complaining about it.

Although I struggled vocally, I made sure that I was fit to sing again for the rest of the week. I was chomping at the bit to get out of my room by Wednesday and no matter how bad I felt, I had to see something in Dublin before I went (more) mad. I dragged Nurit out for this purpose and set her up to do most of the talking. We had a really lovely few hours before I went home to sleep, shower and steam and be responsible. Fat load of good “responsible” did me up till now though! Humph!

Despite my struggling through every show in the final week, Dublin gave us a fantastic farewell. I have never experienced such a roar of applause. Our houses were packed and our patrons responsive and appreciative. I am sure that most of my colleagues will agree that our fourth and final opening night was incredibly magical. When the bows were done I was a bit teary. I have never heard a theatre audience make such a noise or seen one rise to its feet so quickly. Brandon Lindsay also mentioned it as a favourite onstage moment of the tour. I can’t really describe how it feels when something you have poured your heart into is so generously admired – the applause almost hits you in the chest rather than warmly washing over you as usual. It’s overwhelming!


The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

The show you work on, as a performer, often becomes just as much a part of your identity as your job title. This and the pride with which we do our jobs, means that a production like Show Boat can sail its way right into our hearts. I can’t tell you how many times I get introduced as “Caitlin, who is/was in Phantom Of The Opera”. The specific show becomes your job description quite organically, and Show Boat will be no different. We throw ourselves into our work, so it can become such a huge part of our lives and how we run them. It can even start to dictate what you can and can’t eat and whether you can or can’t exercise at certain times of the day. Using your body in such an intricate way means that no matter where you are you take your work with you.

So, this very same “my body is my job” business set me up for quite a difficult afternoon on Friday. I was faced with the most ridiculous first world problem of not being able to do the wine pairing with my six course taster meal at Chapter One – Dublin’s award-winning, Michelin-starred restaurant. Oh no!


Irish indulgence at Chapter One.

To be honest, the wine pairing would have pushed the price far beyond what I could justify anyway, but having a show straight after such extravagance definitely dampened the spirit (but only mildly). When my sister and I toured Europe at the end of 2006, we budgeted so tightly that we once shared a cheap sandwich and a cup of tea for lunch. This was all with tickets to the Moulin Rouge as our end goal. We did it though and probably lost some weight in the process of scraping the Euros together. Chapter One was my “Moulin Rouge” for this tour, but sandwiches were not on the menu. It was amazing!

Our run of Show Boat was very short relative to other shows that I have done. It takes me a very long time (if I get there) to get frustrated with doing the same thing every night. Usually, I am too hyped up about giving the best performance every night and managing the ups and downs of what your body can throw at you. Not a single moment of complacency. It does start to become routine though, and when you start counting down to the final show, all the little moments of your routine become precious. You start to think of the things you do in a different light – it’s the second last time you’ll wear that costume or you’ll only have to do that annoying double turn three more times or you have two more chances to hit that note that feels so wonderful. You take a few deep breaths before you walk in to the spot light for the last time, knowing that the world you have created is about to shut its doors on you for a while. The characters you love will fade away with the final notes of the orchestra and, sometimes, they’re people who you will never see again.


Magnolia (Magdalene Minnaar) and Kim after the curtain comes down.

Caitlin Clerk