The Dark Road Rushes – Seven

Sep 28 2013 | By More

Previews: The last few steps on the Royal Lyceum’s Dark Road

Jo Rush's view during previews. Photo © Jo Rush

Jo Rush’s view during previews. Photo © Jo Rush

Who let the audience in! – The seventh blog from Jo Rush, AD on Dark Road, the collaboration between crime writer Ian Rankin and Lyceum artistic director Mark Thomson.

Previews are like the laboratory trial for a show. In a preview you recreate the conditions of the final production as closely as possible by having all the technical elements of the play in place and putting it in front of an audience.

And, just like in a dress rehearsal, it’s important to note things that are working and things that aren’t so you can address them the next day.

But a preview is not the finished article. You need the previews to teach you how an audience reacts to the play and what technical problems might occur so that you can then refine the production accordingly.

We have been lucky to have three preview performances before tonight’s official opening and this has taught us so much.

On Wednesday, when we found that the finale of the play that had worked so well in the rehearsal room just wasn’t getting the desired response from the audience, we were able to change it.

On Thursday we trialled our new ending and found it much better but still in need of tweaking.

And last night, on Friday, we were able to present a slightly altered version of our new ending that we are really happy with and the audience really responded to.

Scream and gasp in all the right places

We’ve also cut scenes and reordered the play over the previews and this has been essential in giving us a play that tells the story we want the audience to see and takes them on the right kind of journey. Without previews we wouldn’t have had the flexibility to change these things or the audience feedback to know what needed changing.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing how different audiences react to the show and gathering feedback in the interval and at the end to see what people predict will happen and how satisfied they were with the story. The most gratifying thing of all has been watching from the back of the stalls as people jump out of their seats and scream and gasp in all the right places so we know we’ve hit the thriller mark.

Tonight’s opening night will be a much needed chance to put on nice clothes and socialise after all the madness and changes of this week. But it’s been totally worth it because we now have a show that we are all really proud of and excited to share, so all there is left to do is officially open it to the public.

And if you see me there do tell me what you think!

Jo Rush is a director and theatre maker based in Edinburgh. Having just completed a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe with the production Hide And Seek, a devised piece of immersive physical theatre, she is now working as assistant director to Mark Thomson at the Lyceum on Dark Road, a new play by Ian Rankin and Mark Thomson, a role that has been made possible through the support of the Federation of Scottish Theatre.

Previously Jo has worked as assistant director at the Traverse and directed work as part of new writing events such as Words, Words, Words and the experimental theatre project Scrapyard, both at the Traverse, as well as directing work at the Fringe in both 2011 and 2012. Jo is interested in visual storytelling, classic works, and developing new writing.

Dark Road opens at the Lyceum on Saturday 28 September, running through to 19 October. Previews were on 25 to 27 September.

Full details of Dark Road on the Royal Lyceum’s website:


© Jo Rush 2013.

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