Confession: I don’t have any side dishes, collateral attractions or ‘guilty pleasures’ besides my one and only crush. I’m not a Whovian, either, but if I had to pick a favourite Doctor, it would probably be number 10. There’s something about David Tennant – apart from the delicious Scottish accent (check out this *fantastic* audio drama played by Tennant and Emilia Fox – I’ve heard it a couple of times and it is brilliant!) and the fabulous acting (I loved him in Much ado about nothing) – he came across as such a genuine, *NICE* bloke in WDYTYA. If you haven’t seen that yet – here are a few clips from that show.
In any case – I think Tennant is a noteworthy actor, and when I realised that he was on stage in London during my business trip, I immediately bought tickets to the show. The tagline on the show’s poster does not lie: Don Juan in Soho is the raunchiest, naughtiest play I have ever seen on stage. But boy, is it good, and funny, and fast-paced. And Tennant is just brilliant in the lead role – arrogant and abrasive, cajoling and compelling, you just want to be adored by Don Juan, even though you know he will spit you out the moment he has had you. His speech for hedonism as an expression of self, and his rant against social media, are almost sociocritical, and the little jibes against Trump were welcomed by the audience with much laughter and applause. The whole role – even though a comedy – takes guts, I think. Using that language (including the C word), engaging in some rather ‘lewd’ acts on stage, plus some of the politically controversial lines – not everyone can pull that off, but Tennant really did.So, anyway, Guylty Pleasure was in town (see above) and watched Don Juan together with Hariclea on Wednesday. And since we were there, we decided to check out the SD. A great opportunity for a seasoned SD-goer like myself to see the spectacle from the perspective of an uninvolved onlooker – and to compare the experience with the previous occasions when I waited at the SD for Richard Armitage. This is what went down:
Hariclea and I were in no great hurry to get to the back of Wyndham’s Theatre, so by the time we rocked up there, the fans had already gathered along the metal barriers outside the SD. It’s hard to say how many people were there – maybe 70? The mood was relaxed, yet excited. On the wall outside the theatre a few notices informed the fans that the actors were only going to sign material that was related to the show, i.e. tickets, posters or programmes from Don Juan. After waiting 5 or 10 minutes, one of the security guards came out and gave a little speech. He pointed out that David Tennant was hosting some guests post-show in the theatre, so there was a) no guarantee that he would come out to sign, and b) if he did, they did not know *when* he would come out. However, he promised he would keep us informed so that we would not have to wait unnecessarily. Then he asked people to be considerate and friendly. David would sign one piece for people, or take a picture. “You are all here for the same reason, so please move out of the way once you have received your autograph, so that those behind you have a chance to get their autograph/picture, too.” I really appreciated that little speech from the security – just because it set the tone for the whole occasion, and because it not only laid down the rules but also took the fans seriously. Rather than making us feel like a nuisance, it reacted to the fact that fans by and large gather at the SD to show their interest and appreciation – something that is to be seen as a gift, not a threat.
Some of the younger cast members came out and left quickly, then Gawn Grainger, who plays Don Juan’s father. He sweetly took his time to chat with fans and sign autographs. Adrian Scarborough, who plays Don Juan’s sidekick Stan, was out next. Standing right at the back of the crowd – as a mere onlooker I didn’t want to take away the space for the *true* fans – I could hardly see him. But he signed his way from my corner of the assembled crowd back to the SD, and posed for pictures with fans. David Tennant’s arrival was announced by much cheering and whooping from the crowd, and he again made his way to the far corner of the assembled crowd, immediately launching into signing and posing for pics. At 1.85m (6’1″) he rose above the crowd, and I was able to get a few pics of him on my phone.
Again, Tennant also signed his way back to the SD, and from the metadata on my pictures I can say that the whole procedure took about 6 or 7 minutes. Once he went back inside the theatre, the crowd dispelled quickly and Hariclea and I took a nightcap in an adjoining pub.
The following night I spontaneously repeated the experience because to my surprise I had found out that our fellow fan Judit was in town and had tickets for Don Juan on Thursday. So I met her after the play, and we joined the SD once again. The procedure was much the same as the previous night, with roughly the same number of people in attendance, I think. This time there was no speech prior to the SD proceedings. However, there was a little bonus appearance – gorgeous “Capt. Jack Harkness” from Torchwood had been to see the play and visited DT afterwards.
— John Barrowman MBE (@JohnBarrowman) June 1, 2017
He came out the SD and briefly joked with the crowd before heading off into the night. (I totally love Barrowman, btw. There’s a celeb who *loves* interacting with people, you can tell, and who has no fear of touching and being touched.) And then it was actually Tennant who showed up (no Adrian Scarborough) and proceeded to sign and pose as he had done the night before. I think he took a bit longer that night, yet of course there was a big sigh of disappointment once he turned to go back inside. Judit did not get to see much of Tennant as we were at the back once again. But I held up my phone again and caught this:
There was an amazing buzz of energy about Tennant, I thought. Something very energetic and lively, almost hyperactive. (Although that might be a normal reaction after just having been on stage and presumably still surfing high on adrenaline). He smiled and posed and said thank you and smiled brightly again, moving along the long line of his fans. Occasionally I could hear his voice (although not what he said), he was bending down to smile into cameraphone, and to me it looked as if he was doing his best to give his fans what they desired. It’s hard to describe, but I felt a positive, cooperative vibe from him, which I think is also evident in the pictures – in the way he inclines his head to hear his fans, the way he bends down to pose for pictures, and in the smiles that look genuine, not forced.
So, two non-fangirling SDs under my belt, and what an interesting experience. It was quite different from how I previously experienced the SD. As my regular readers know, I have been to a few of them when Richard Armitage played Proctor in The Old Vic’s The Crucible, and I had the pleasure of seeing Love Love Love in New York last year. I really enjoyed the David Tennant SD experience – possibly more so than the Armitage SD. For one simple reason: I was uninvested. It didn’t matter to me whether I was going to get a signature or a photo; I could relax and just observe, no mad heartbeat because *OMGmycrush* *he is there* *gasp* *he looks sooooo gooooood* *OMGILoveHim*… Really, the SD is not good for a fangirl’s heart. With RA, I never really feel like saying anything (beyond a polite “You were great in this. Please sign here.”), and I tend to be so nervous, I can’t even look the man in the eye.
Much like a 15-year-old school girl meeting her crush. Thinking about this, it makes me wonder why I am putting myself through this *at all*… OTOH there *have* been a couple of RA SDs where I stood back and observed rather than take part, and those were quite enjoyable, too, because I had given up on the expectation of getting an autograph or a word out of the man. So the conclusion may simply be, to change my SD mode to background ogling lurking rather than seeking interaction. It seems much easier to get a *look* in, than an autograph…
And there may be also a difference in how these two actors, for whom I have queued at the SD, “perform” at such occasions. I don’t mean this as a value judgment, but it seems to me that Richard is a rather more reluctant SD participant than Tennant, flummoxed at the attention directed at him, and unwilling/unable/too humble (??) to receive the “gift” of goodwill from his fans? I don’t know whether Tennant *thrives* on the SD encounter with his fans, but to me it looked as if he was able to take the SD not just as something where he is *giving* to his fans, but also as an opportunity to recharge his own batteries with the admiration and positive feedback offered to him there. I can’t deny that what comes across to me as Richard’s “SD reluctance”, makes me sometimes feel slightly guilty about waiting at the SD. As in: by being there, I am adding pressure on him to put on an SD show that he doesn’t really enjoy. I certainly react to what I perceive (which may actually something different than what other fans perceive), and that has an effect on my enjoyment of the SD… in Tennant’s case it was unreservedly positive.
So, overall, a really nice 6 minutes, even if we had to wait at least twice as long for that conclusion. But Tennant is worth the accolades, the attention and the wait. A great actor – and a pretty cool bloke, too. I think I will have to catch up with his back catalogue now.
PS: No worries, Richard is still #1, though 😉