Wednesday, 28 March 2012

'Return of the King' by Dominic Allen

They say it's cursed. Maybe. It is certainly not without trepidation that one takes up the mantle, for the second time, of playing theScottishKingwhoshouldnotbementionedfromShakespeare'sScottishplayofthesamename.

Now, I'm not a superstitious person; I don't mind black cats, spilt salt, broken mirrors and the only reason I don't like people putting their shoes on the table is that it's unhygienic. Generally, I don't even mind 'The Scottish Play' being called by its proper name. Or, at least, I didn't – but we'll come back to that. That said, there is something altogether sinister about that play. There's something in it – some twisted bit of Shakespeare's genius – that gets inside you and makes you go a little bit... oogie.

As if the play itself wasn't cursed enough, I'm sure many of the more superstitious actors in this world would think again when we consider the venue. It's not a bad venue once you get past the cold, the damp, the ingrained sense of a history of cruelty in its very fabric, the dark, the smell, the strange feeling of being watched, the what-was-that and the What-did-you-say I-didn't-say-anything – I mean, if anything it's perfect for the play – but it hardly does much to put a superstitious man at ease. Not that I'm a superstitious man, you understand... but even without the shifting shadows and tricks of the light, it's still a funny old place. It's bigger than you'd think and it's... twisty. You'd be surprised how easy it is to sneak up on people in there. And there's something to be said, I think, about its design. It's not designed to make you feel comfortable or at ease with your surroundings. It's designed to make 18th Century soon-to-be-Australian convicts feel like... well, convicts. And it works.

Finally, we come to the dates of the performances. Surely, there couldn't be anything untoward or darkly sinister about those? You would think not but, alas, here we have it. A preview performance date. Yes, it's a Friday. I wonder if you can guess the actual date? Well, it's the second Friday in April. And the first Friday is the sixth... so six plus seven is...

Ah! So maybe the schedule could be better, given that were I superstitious – which I'm not – I'd not only have to contend with a long tradition of the play being cursed and long established ghosts in an allegedly haunted prison but also the most quintessentially unlucky date in the history of the entire world! Lucky for me I have absolutely no reason to be worried about that – it's all total nonsense, hokum, gibberish... oh, except for last time we did it (the same play in the same venue on the same date) and something utterly terrible happened. But apart from that, there's no reason to be worried at all. I mean, lightning doesn't strike twice. Does it?

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to it. And why? Because it's so much fun. I get to go round killing people, scaring people, I get to shout, scream, giggle, cry, grow a bigger beard, get covered in blood and perfect an evil laugh. So why don't you come down one night and join in? I mean... what's the worst that can happen?

Dominic is appearing in 'Macbeth' at the House of Detention, Clerkenwell, London from 17th April - 18th May 2012. More info at