Word reaches us again from across the globe, this time from [First Soloist] Jonathan Payn:


‘I thought I would send a little missive back home to let you know what excitements have been happening here and, I promise, I won’t mention the glorious warm sunshine at all as you freeze in minus ten degrees!!

‘Work has now started in earnest in this massive theatre in the middle of nowhere. The stage is huge – last night as Escalus, my gestures were, hopefully, expansive and ‘theatrical’ enough to fill the void between us on stage and those in the auditorium. The crew, I believe, have been up against it getting everything ready but, as usual, I am sure by Friday night everything will be looking suitably Veronaesque.

‘However, foreign tours are all about burning the candle at both ends so I have managed to fit in a little sightseeing. This morning (at 7.30 I tell you) I went with Samara and Fergus to the animal market (name escapes me). If you are vegetarian you might need to miss this paragraph… It was like entering a scene from the middle ages as gutters ran with blood and live chickens clucked (for the last time) and skinned goats swung in the morning breeze alongside another animal that I will leave to your imagination. It was quite an experience, though I am not sure how I am going to feel the next time I peruse a menu here!!

‘Yesterday we grabbed a cab to a recommended restaurant in which we ordered an innocuous sounding chicken dish. What turned up was, to say the least, a challenge, which wasn’t helped by having the chicken’s head looking up at us from the dish!! Afterwards we wandered the tiny alleys of what must be old Guangzhou which was a refreshing contrast to the neon and high-rises. This felt like ‘real China’, whatever that is.

‘Got to go now as the afternoon rehearsal is about to start – one must don one’s tights you know!!

‘Anyway, best wishes from all of us here and keep warm (sorry, had to mention that…)