Since my last confession I've put myself through the unenviable task of re-learning three one-man shows and performing them on succeeding nights at the Hove Grown festival.
Actually, it wasn't quite as big a deal as I spin it, all three shows - High Vis, Something Rotten and The Trials of Harvey Matusow - having been on the slate at various times during the past year, so that none of them was the subject of a full-on re-learn from scratch.
Quite a challenge, all the same - and that was the point: I wasn't expecting massive audiences, but if I could stage three different shows over three nights and do it without hitch, that would be reward enough. Of course, I owe big thanks to Sarah and Guy, the organisers, for making such a venture affordable - the participation fee was tiny compared to, say, the Brighton Fringe (and oy, don't get me started on Edinburgh).
Hove Grown is primarily about new work, but I was allowed a bit of licence, repackaging these three pre-existent shows under the umbrella title Men Without Friends - a title which seemed to me to reflect my strange affinity for unpopular protagonists. In the end, some of my men proved more friendless than others: Quint the traffic warden and McCarthyite supergrass Harvey Matusow drew decent crowds, but King Claudius of Denmark proved less popular; nevertheless, from my angle, Something Rotten was the most accomplished performance - perhaps (who knows?) because it was the only one of the three that got a full dress rehearsal in the space earlier in the day.
Anyway, those who attended were vocal in their appreciation, and as well as thanking my indefatigable consort Jenny Rowe for her brilliant work on the techie front, hats are off to some equally indefatigable punters - for instance in this snap from High Vis Wednesday, we see not only Quint McBride but also Clare Ryan (stripey top), who's seen all my shows along with hubby Steve, and fellow Hove Grown performer Murray Hecht (shiny head), who saw all my shows THAT VERY WEEK!!! The other illustrations herewith show me giving a taster of Something Rotten at the HG launch do (no, that banner wasn't there during the actual performance), and, in costume and character as Matusow, promoting the festival to a dedicated audience of shoppers in George Street, Hove.
Like the George Street shoppers, the press proved hard to entice to the performances; however, Simon Jenner was good enough to come and see The Trials of Harvey Matusow on behalf of Fringe Review, reassessing the show for the body which six years ago accorded it an Outstanding Theatre Award (and teapot). It was more than a little cheering to have him describe Matusow, in summation, as "Cohen’s first masterpiece".
Also cheering, by the way, is the news that FringeReview mastermind Paul Levy, lately afflicted by some serious ill health, is now well on the road to recovery.
Robert Cohen – a man in showbiz so stepp’d in that, should he wade no more, to go back were as tedious as go o’er. These are among his musings.