The Last Post

This is the last post. We have finished The End. In the last week we performed four times in Brussels and twice in Cologne. Each time we had to reorder our index cards between shows. There are 1000 index cards and by the end of the week I was seeing them in my sleep. Ollie danced like a bear six times. I shot him 16 times per show. He shot me three times per show. I shot him 96 times in total. He shot me 18 times in total. We both shouted ‘Ready Aim Fire’ a lot and I lost my voice because I meant it. I drank four bottles of local beer in each show and Ollie listed at least ten local train stations in a crowd-pleasing accent. We asked technicians what was on TV after the show so I could say I was going to watch it. We asked technicians where a depressing place to stay in a caravan in November might be when it was raining. In England we said Morecambe. In Belgium it was Charleroi. In Germany it was Chemnitz. Afer the show we found a guide book for Chemnitz in the dressing room. It didn’t look too bad. Not as bad as Morecambe.

In Brussels we were driven to and from the theatre every day and offered food and drink after the show. Wholesome homemade soups and strong Belgian beer. In England we joked in the show about ‘playing cards for our per diems’ because we never received them. In Belgium and Germany we were given per diems but we didn’t play cards for them. In Cologne the programmer brought beer onstage and toasted us after giving us each a rose. In the show we say ‘There will be no flowers at our feet’ but for our last show there was. In the show we say ‘There will be no curtain call’ because in England there never is. They do things differently here. We received more applause on our first night in Cologne than all our other shows put together. Apparently six is the minimum times you take a bow in Germany. We have performed to more people in the last week than we have in the whole tour. Our matinee in Brussels was attended by 200 people. We averaged 150 people per show. We printed 500 programmes. It wasn’t enough.

When I was washing the bear suits this time last week watching them dance around the tumble drier in my local launderette I didn’t know all this would happen. I was feeling melancholy because I knew that by now we would have performed The End for the final time. We have no more invitations to present it so this really is the end. Our text in the show about touring for two years across the UK and some parts of Mainland Europe has come true. Maybe I have actually hung up my bear suit for the last time. If someone does ask us to perform again we would have to consider why that would be a better way to end the show than this, because, at the moment, sitting here, writing this in Cologne, it feels like the show went out with a bang, like it found its voice as I was losing mine. If it has to be a full stop and not a dot dot dot then I’m glad it happened here, now, like this.

We led a workshop today and asked people to think about what their last words would be if they had to say them. One of the participants said ‘Yes’ which is actually a brilliant response to the question. It suggests that ‘yes I have got some last words but I don’t want to say them’. At the moment, my last words were ‘I don’t know whether to get up or not’. And now that we have finished the show, it feels like I finally can. Ollie has arrived and reminds me to mention his bruises from falling 96 times over the last week but I don’t think I will. The bruises will fade away. The blindfolds are frayed. The beer bottles are recycled. The index cards will remain in a suitcase covered in beer and bear fur and footprints. The pentimento of every show. They are torn and ripped and creased from being thrown onto too many stages too many times. We never rewrote them so they wear their own history. Like us. The bear suits that danced in the tumble drier have danced across Western Europe and are back in their suitcase too. They are waiting for their entrance. And now so are we. Well, at least until the next time…

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