By Genevieve Barr | The Solid Life of Sugar Water, January, 29 2016

“I hope we can deliver the same panache this time.”


I repeated this word to Amit, our director, as we scanned over a newspaper article in the Plymouth Herald by which he sets out his new ambitions for ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’ ahead of the formidable tour we have ahead of us.

The word he has chosen to describe his visions for the show is panache.

Just so I’m clear, it wasn’t the pronunciation that confused me. Panash?
Pan-ache? PanaCHE? It ought to since it derives from the French and the French language is not particularly friendly to D/deaf people. (Rendezvous being such an example).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines panache as “flamboyant confidence and nerve”. It also describes it as “a tuft or plume of feathers especially on a headdress”.

I think it’s pretty clear which one Amit meant. But you never know.

‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’ indisputably has a lot of panache. It graphically spells out a difficult story on stage and leaves you hanging there unapologetically. It’s incredibly brave – it takes a lot of confidence for artists and a production team to take such a fragile subject and deliver it to the masses. Jack Thorne’s intricate writing and Amit Sharma’s tender direction have provided the creative input that breathes life into what’s such a stark and unspoken subject: stillbirth. I’m so proud to be a part of this.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I might have spoken a little disparagingly to Amit when the Plymouth Herald unveiled his ‘masterplan of panache’ during technical rehearsals at the Theatre Royal earlier this week. Because it is a word that helps encapsulate ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’.

This week has seen the official start of tour with audiences returning to the Theatre Royal Plymouth. We’ve had such a welcome, it’s been amazing. I’ve been pretty nervous – not in the dressing room like I was at Edinburgh, of forgetting my words or doing the show a disservice. I’ve been getting nervous in the middle of performances when I suddenly want to know if the audience are with us. The nature of the play is that we talk directly to the audience – Arthur as Phil and myself as Alice – two intimate monologues that weave themselves over 80 minutes on the stage. And as an artist, you want to feel reassured that the audience are with you – they understand what you are trying to tell them. Sometimes we don’t feel so brave about the subject we’re talking about.

Next week we go onto Birmingham, then Manchester and onto other places. That’s a new journey, because who knows what we can expect there. Right now, I’m loving the dusk of Plymouth when I walk down from the Hoe, through the Drum’s stage door and get into my pyjamas. Before I know it, it’s time to get onto the bed and captivate a new audience with the panache of ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’. I hope it lives up to everyone’s expectations.