You know the songs, but do you know the story? Rumours, an original play written by student Emma Summerton, explores the private strains and emotions of Fleetwood Mac during the production of what will become their most notorious album.
Record Producer Ken Caillat (Sam Morris) opens the play, breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience directly, telling them his experiences with the band at this crucial time. We then witness the unfolding of his memories from the creation process of Rumours. During this period, each individual band member was experiencing intense, personal tensions. The combination of the breaking down of relationships and the abuse of drugs and drink created agitation and hostility amongst the band whilst simultaneously heightening the passion in their music. Rumours mirrors this conflict. The protagonists each declare their current state of struggle but assert their motivation and desire to complete the record and keep the band together.
“Each actor delivered their individual monologues with conviction and clarity”
The script, divided into monologues, duologues and group scenes was both humorous, with Ken Caillat giving an audience member a pot of jam and instructions on how to create a “taste sensation”, to moments of real tension and emotion. The first instances of dialogue and introduction of the protagonists felt awkward but once warmed up, the cast were fantastic. Each actor delivered their individual monologues with conviction and clarity; it was evident that the nature of the band member being portrayed was researched and understood.
Jess Lundholm (Stevie Nicks) and Andrew Houghton (Lindsey Buckingham) were impressive and consistent with their American accents. Arthur Mckechnie was masterly in his presentation of John McVie’s alcoholism through slurred dialogue and subtle mannerisms. Boo Jackson (Christine Mcvie) and John Strickland (Mick Fleetwood) were both emotive and engaging in their witnessing of the drama surrounding them, whilst Sam Morris remained eclectic throughout his performance.
“This almost claustrophobic setting was incredibly effective in embodying the personal affairs and intimacy of the band”
The set was small, with the audience sitting in close proximity to the actors. This almost claustrophobic setting was incredibly effective in embodying the personal affairs and intimacy of the band at this time. The audience sits in an ‘L’ shape around the performance space which was mostly effective, giving each individual an intimate view. However, it also meant that, in certain seats, some of the most raw, emotive moments were unfortunately obscured from view due to the positioning of the actors.
Lighting and, of course, music were vital in this production. The play begins with producer Ken Caillat switching on the recording studio light and ends with its switching off and a return to darkness, reflecting that the audience are looking back at his experiences. Spotlights are adopted during monologues. intensifying these raw, personal moments and during a scene in which Stevie and Mick discuss viewing life with ‘rose tinted glasses’ a subtle pink light is used to illuminate the stage. Relevant tracks from the album itself are played throughout the play, relating these events and experiences of the band to the lyrics and songs they produced.
An engaging, intimate and thoughtful production.
8/10 – Excellent, highly enjoyable
Image Courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre