This is the point where reality bites. I’m just back from a three-day training course in one-woman show in the UK, with a brilliant guy who doesn’t mince his words. That’s what you want, right from a teacher? Except that the first thing he said was to “get rid of Anne”. He was convinced that the heroine of the Guilty Secrets script as written – which he slated as “too expository” about my “pet issue” ( of toxic sugars) – was a thinly disguised version of me. At this point I did dare to say that as a journalist all I wanted to do was to exploit what I saw as the comic potential of said issue, but he was already suggesting that I should change the protagonist, make it male, ethnic, anyone but “me”. By the time I’d rewritten chunks in time for the session next day, the protagonist was now the vegan 22 year-old Mimi, the daughter of the alleged “me” character, Susie. This was deemed to be an improvement, and at the end of that session, my tutor says, “go on, surprise yourself”. This proved to be the best advice of the course, and I think for my writing in general. By the third day, we were looking into Mimi’s soul and the dark world of addiction. And yet Guilty Secrets is still a comedy: I was in stitches watching him play Mimi and Susie gorging on vegan chocolates, or a scene where Mimi is arrested. This brings me to an insuperable problem thrown up by the new script, however: there is no way that I could ever be credible by playing a central character in a monologue who is a 22 year old woman, no matter how much training I invest in.
Incidentally, here’s a link to an excellent 7 minute feature on a one man show, a cautionary tale on what NOT to do. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcyJW-GeMDc
So where does Guilty Secrets go now? First, I must finish the script, and consult with my lovely actress friend Katie who’d offered to direct, and who had of course discreetly flagged up the obstacles as she saw them in our first rehearsals. But all is not lost. Stay tuned.