Getting Back in the LoopDate: 3 August 2011
There exists in the life of any journalist a constant background noise. It's the sound of 'the loop', buzzing away, barely audible, a tinnitus-like distraction in your ear that just refuses to go away.
'You didn't see Clybourne Park?!' 'You haven't visited the new Arcola?!' 'What do you mean you've never met Ed Hall?!' Well, all of these statements apply to me presently, not least because I've just returned from a year living abroad. I know, the horror – I haven't set foot in a British theatre for almost 52 weeks (apart from the Whatsonstage.com offices these past few days). So imagine how loudly that buzzing noise has been ringing in my ears today as I prepare to re-immerse myself at the biggest carnival of them all – the Edinburgh Fringe.
I haven't been entirely off the theatrical radar, I hasten to add. The beady-eyed among you will have spotted that I've continued to contribute features and occasional news items to the website during my year off. But I was based in Auckland (meaning I was effectively working overnight in the UK), and so for obvious reasons had to put the reviewing and interviewing side of my job on hold. Much as I wanted to sit in the stalls for Kinnear's Hamlet or Jacobi's Lear - both of which I managed to see through the saving grace of NT Live - the 60-hour round trip was a bit too much to face (it's bad enough getting home to Brixton after a night in the West End).
It was around this time last year that I spent a week in Edinburgh gorging myself on theatre and comedy before flying out to New Zealand to start my sabbatical. So it seems fitting that I'm returning to the reviewing frontline in exactly the same place that I left it. It feels rather like I've pressed pause on a computer game, left the room for a year, and am on the verge of pressing play again.