Directed by: Robert Carlyle
Written by: Mike Leigh
Produced by: Rain Dog Theatre Company
Ecstasy is a 1979 play by British playwright Mike Leigh with a six-character cast. It covers the life of four blue-collar friends living in a ratty area of London near Kilburn High Road and the drunken frustration in their lives, particularly that of the lead character Jean.
Jean is a suicidal garage attendant who sleeps with unsuitable men, like Roy, drinks heavily and has abortions. Her friend from Birmingham, Dawn, who has had three children, brings back her husband Mick, an Irish labourer, and his quiet friend, Len, to Jean's bleak Kilburn bedsitter.
Rain Dog Theatre Company took upon themselves to produce a play on a little known text and improvised round the themes and situations involved. Five new characters were added and scenes extended. Rehearsals were now taped and those tapes became the frame work of the finished piece. Once again this style worked.
The production sold out and managed to reach a large audience by touring community venues. The play spoke in a language that for some was uncomfortable but ultimately human.
Caroline Paterson (Jean), Jim Twaddale (Len), Barbara Rafferty (Dawn), Gilbert Martin (Mick), Patricia Ross (May), Gary Lewis (Frank), Paul Hickey (Danny), Stuart Davids (Callum), Joey Cooper (Charlie), Joyce Falconer (Theresa), Craig Smith (Jake)
“I always find it difficult to explain why the company chose a particular play, or even what it’s about. It seems to me such a personal thing, why the director chose it, why the cast agreed to do it. It’s all the more difficult in the instance because, when we started, we didn’t know, and at the time of print, still didn’t know what would be the end result.
We were looking or a piece, firstly, which was loose enough in its structure to enable us to use an improvisatory rehearsal process. Step one was to add five new characters, then to define and re redefine all eleven parts. Rehearsals were taped, characterisations were discovered, situations were invented, and, hen, at the last moment, we cut together our own improvised script with that of Mike Leigh’s.
The end result is a look at relationships, at the difficulty un both beginning and then maintaining them. Friendships, what are they? Who are our friends? Do we really know each other? And isolation, if you spend too much time thinking about previous sentences.”
for Rain Dog