More words from our writer: the first rehearsal, self-doubt and Leslie Nielsen

The first rehearsal. The Sum of all FEARS… (For me?)

So, first rehearsal. I was nervous. Me? Nervous? Surely not.  I felt the ol’ Leslie Nielsen in Airplane coming on (‘Don’t call me Shirley!’). On my way to the rehearsal space in Acton (in a church of all places – me mammy will be delighted with that) I kept having to give myself pep talks: ‘Come on Lucy it will be a doddle – you can do it luv – you’re cool as… a . . .’. The closer to the church I got the more aggressive and blasphemous the pep talks became. ‘God damn you, Lucy! Pull yourself together!’. 1 – nil to the pre-rehearsal nerves. You’d think I was the one going on stage. Solo. Naked.

Funny how self-doubt can cripple you.

L-R: Phoebe Barran (Director) Louise Devlin (Tanya) Rekha John-Cheriyan (Fatima)


I was worried I would confuse everyone when asked about the play. Because, in fact, I am a born confused person and a natural ‘confuser’ – you can stick that derivation of confused’ in the dictionary along with ‘bootalicious” and my harmless, smiley face next to it. I confuse people with my explanations.

I’ve developed a less than pleasant habit of stuttering when I’m nervous. Which makes me seem like I’m a bit pissed, when I’m not. I’M NOT. Thus, I had visions of discussing my rationale for characters and, mid-flow, stuttering and tumbling over my words, then tumbling down the church staircase, then out the door.


Louise Devlin (Tanya)


I was also scared that someone in the rehearsal was going to find out that in all honesty, cards on the table, festooning of dirty laundry –  ‘ahoy, there!’ – for everyone to see, that I did not have a clue what was going on or what I was saying about Fats and Tanya, or Fats and/or Tanya, or either on their own, by themselves. Again, talking utter unintelligible rubbish until the roof fell on my head.

From paranoia to reality: what actually happened?

There were five women around a table: the Spice Girls of theatre. Louise Devlin, who plays Tanya, and Rekha John- Cheriyan, who plays Fatima, read the script through and I was getting a bit emotional, but fighting it back, like a child who’s just had a football in the face, in front of the WHOLE school playground. Louise and Rekha were just bouncing off one another: they were bloody electrifying. Playful when they needed to be, intense when they needed to be – such good actors. I was laughing, then upset, then laughing again, and I could really sense the bond forming in the way that great character duos do. Fabulous.


Rekha John-Cheriyan (Fatima)


Director Phoebe Barran, is methodical in her approach in an almost serene way, very calm and thoughtful. We discussed points of the script and every now and then she’d entertain us with witty anecdotes of directing-past and her experiences.

So, the first rehearsal was a little bit of work, and a little bit of Julie Andrews in ‘The King and I’ (“getting-to-know-you… getting-to know-all-about-you”). Phoebe is the antithesis of what I expected a director to be/ look like – all crabby and bossy, cigar smoking, baseball-cap-wearing – AND MALE…Get with the times, Lucy! Oh, hasn’t the theatre world really come on? Phoebe is a pro and one cool chick, and I am so excited to be working with her.

Lastly, I was uber impressed with all the insightful things assistant director, Catherine Lord, was sharing. Catherine is a bit of a fountain of all knowledge. She made so many socio-political-cultural-historical links with the play, making it connect more succinctly with our modern lives.

So, the first rehearsal: The sum of all fears? Er, no, Lucy, you melon! Can’t wait for the next!


Fats and Tanya opens 4pm 20 August at the Etcetera Theatre, Camden.  Book here

Image credits: Camilla Greenwell

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