Nicholas Asbury's Guardian Blog: Once more unto the hospital

Read Nicholas Asbury's blogs as Propeller tour the UK and the world with Henry V and The Winter's Tale. Click here to find out more.

Read Nicholas Asbury's blogs as Propeller tour the UK and the world with Henry V and The Winter's Tale. Click here to find out more.

Here in Perth, Australia, everything seems brighter: the sun streams off the sleek, modern buildings; the dust settles on the old colonial turrets off Murray Street.

We're here for the Perth International festival. After a 24-hour sleepless journey, exhaustion seems to heighten the senses, the world somehow etched clearer. In trying to stay up until evening, we naturally find our way to a bar, or rather, the festival gardens. This is the hub of the festival, and makes a change for those of us used to the duplicitous chill of Edinburgh in August. Twinkling under the stars and the skyscrapers, the makeshift hostelry serves local beer alongside paella stands and burger stalls. Everyone seems to be relaxed, healthy and beautiful. The beer, heat and jetlag soon have me slumped in my chair.

We have a couple of days off while the stage management works hard to get the show ready in our beautiful theatre. Naturally, we actors acknowledge their labours by hitting the beach, and as we saunter down Cottesloe Beach, the warm sand playing between our toes, all the insecurities and financial grind of being an actor are repaid. It is also repaid in the joy of doing a great show. When we take our curtain call for The Winter's Tale, the "Bravos" and whistles taking my breath away.

Sadly, the next night my breath is taken away in a different way when I start feeling crook a couple of hours before Henry V. By the time the show begins I am irrigating Perth in my own special way. Crunched over with stomach cramps in the middle of the traitors' scene, I stagger offstage to be sick in a bucket. Dugald, playing Henry, has to improvise madly, as he now has only two traitors to deal with. I manage to come back on as Montjoy, the French herald, and feebly get through some of the speech, but I am a doomed man. On all fours and unable to move, my head in a bucket, St John Ambulance are called at the interval and worry about my low pulse and rocketing temperature. For a moment, in the throes of the worst food poisoning I have ever had in the heat of the Australian night, I genuinely think for the first time in my life that I am going to die. They call the paramedics and describe my symptoms, finally adding: "He's also very pale, but he is a Pom and he's only just come over here." From my bucket, I manage to say: "At least we won the Ashes."

While the boys get on with the rest of the show, I experience how bumpy Perth's streets are while high on oxygen in an ambulance. Whisked through triage and placed on a drip with all sorts of things being pumped into my system, three hours later I walk back to the hotel from the hospital, extraordinarily grateful to all the fantastic people that have treated me. Twelve hours later, I go on and do two shows. We get a standing ovation. Life seems brighter here now, in many ways.

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