A love letter to everyone who made Positive a thing

Well that was a ride and a half.

Timothy George and Nathalie Barclay in Positive

There were times when I honestly didn’t think we’d make it, but we did! Positive has wrapped up its 18-show run at the Waterloo East Theatre; and as the inevitable Post-Show Blues (PSBs) begin to kick in, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who helped it happen.

The reception was far better than I could have ever hoped for. From the very first performance, we loved coming off-stage every night and seeing a flood of tweets from people saying how much they connected with what they saw, and to pick up unanimously strong reviews was a dream; let alone a triple-whammy of five-star verdicts and a nod from the Off-West End Awards. Every kind word has been gratefully received by all of us.

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I was honestly worried before we started the run that we’d have to cancel shows due to poor turnouts (we were, after all, an unheard-of company with an unheard-of play and very little money), but in reality there were only two performances (both very early in the run) that had me frantically texting everyone in my phonebook asking if they could come – and even then we were still a long way from calling a night off.

The fact that ticket sales drastically increased over the course of the run to the point where the third and final week was consistently rammed was a testament to the hard work put in by the whole team; and it’s remarkable how powerful (and vital) word-of-mouth is to a small-scale fringe show without a pre-existing fanbase or a generous marketing budget. So to everyone that tweeted about the show and told friends to come and check it out, I cannot thank you enough! Performing to full crowds every night this last week has been an amazing payoff.

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Also, on a personal level, I was so touched by the amount of my own friends, family and colleagues who came out to see it. From those who’d already sat through it in all its previous forms to those I hadn’t seen in five years, it was incredible to have so many friendly faces in on a nightly basis, and for everyone to also be so kind about what they saw was a big pick-me-up! I was genuinely overwhelmed and a little moved by the support. It’s been incredible.

Now I’m gonna gush about the team for a bit.

I was blessed to have such a kick-arse group getting this thing on its feet. The producer, Alice Wright, was a bloody miracle worker. She had to juggle everything from rehearsal scheduling and liaising with the venue to press and marketing; and completely nailed everything. Director James Callas Ball took the script and made it infinitely better; becoming the kind of leader that the cast all valued, trusted and respected in the rehearsal room – not to mention he drove vans like a boss. It was also a pleasure to meet and work with Rowan McIntosh, who mastered our technical stuff during the run and also generously flirted with stage management!

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I feel like it’d be disrespectful to those who are properly trained to call myself a real actor, but it was SO MUCH FUN to be one during this run, and to share the stage with six incredible performers night after night. We were lucky enough to be joined by the magnificent Sally George for this production; an actor whose career is something the rest of us are all striving to emulate and whose talent helped make the character of Margo a real favourite of so many audience members. Ryan J Brown, who I have long been a fan of, joined us as well; taking on the role of carefree teen Olly and – again – making him a real favourite with audiences. He’s just SO. BLOODY. FUNNY.

Paul Heelis has played the role of Greg since the play was just a shoddy rehearsed reading at Camden’s Etcetera Theatre way back in March 2013, and I’m so chuffed that he has continued to do such a fine job ever since. Nathalie Barclay’s Nikki struck a chord with viewers in exactly the way I wanted her to; and her powerhouse performances did everything from making people laugh to moving them to tears. Jamie-Rose Monk just is Jennifer in my eyes, and not only is she one of the strongest actors I’ve ever known but she’s also a killer friend without whom I absolutely would not have had the balls to put this play on. Finally, Timothy George completely soared in the lead role of Benji. I’m not HIV+, but otherwise there is a lot of myself in that character; and Timmy-G bought so much to it in such a short space of time. Like his on- and off-stage mother, he’s a great talent and I’m so proud to have worked with him so early in his career; both as a writer and his castmate.

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Thanks also to everyone who helped us out along the way: Gerald at the Waterloo East Theatre, those who gave us rehearsal rooms, helped us out with staging, took our photos, did our flyers, helped spread the word… and I haven’t forgotten for a second the invaluable contribution made by all the actors who previously worked on the project, nor the fabulous Rob Ellis, who directed an early draft in Edinburgh. I also want to say a GIANT thanks to the lovely Chrissie White, who played Margo  brilliantly for one night only while Sally was off fulfilling her previous commitment to a one-woman-show.

I don’t wanna sound like the ones off X Factor who get kicked off in the second week and are immediately forgotten, but – fingers crossed – “This is not the end!”

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