“I had this lovely brown leather coat. I treasured it,” Gemma Bodinetz is telling SevenStreets, in the best way she can, about this week’s hotly anticipated Everyman rebirth.
And it starts at the dry cleaners.
“The problem was, I just saw it the way it used to be. I couldn’t see past the miasma of love and memories…”
“We share dry cleaners,” Deborah Aydon, Bodinetz’ EverymanPlayhouse co-star interjects (Aydon is Executive- to Bodinetz’ Artistic-Director.)
“He took me to one side, one day, and told me to have a word with Gemma. Tell her her coat had seen one too many first nights…” Aydon purrs, gleefully.
“To me, it was as beautiful as it always was. But, in reality, it was ready for the knacker’s yard…” Bodinetz concedes.
The dry-cleaner as intermediary and confidante. The Third Man. SevenStreets wondered about the real balance of power behind the double act that’s staged 38 world premieres over ten years. Who really wields the big stick? Little did we know it was the man at Johnson’s.
And so it was that Bodinetz and Aydon looked at the Everyman afresh, and hatched their plans for the theatre’s £28million rebuild.
“Those of us who loved the old Everyman, like me, couldn’t actually see past the premieres and the amazing performances we’ve witnessed here,” Bodinetz says, “but others saw it as it was. Saw that you needed a ladder to get on stage, that the chairs were ripped, and there were holes in the ceiling.”
And yet… visit the Everyman when it flings open its swish new Hope Street doors this weekend, and you’ll feel like the old girl’s just returned from a particularly good pampering session at Herberts. Her bone structure is still, noticeably, in place. This is still the Everyman.
Maybe Gemma was hasty with that coat. She could have had it upcycled.
Everyman 2.0 is a confident, artist-friendly space, with a heck of a lot of fancy-pants fly wires for Panto shenanigans, bright new workshop rooms, studios for the Young Everyman and Playhouse company, cosy writers’ rooms lined with Pinter scripts, and a fully kitted out ‘thrust-style’ auditorium seating 400.
The seats look like you could do a full King Lear and still feel the blood in your bottom. And there’s a new balcony and, seemingly, bars everywhere. And toilets. It is, in short, another sure-footed Bodinetz-Aydon production. Maybe not a premiere, more an audacious reimagining of much-loved classic.