Birmingham Repertory Theatre - 5th - 24th June 2006
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The cast were taken for ski-ing lessons to prepare for the play!
Copyright - Birmingham Repetory Theatre

Daniel outside the theatre having become a proud father
early that morning!





Director Paul Raffield
Designer Ruari Murchison
Lighting Designer Oliver Fenwick
Sound Designer Dan Hoole
Voice Coach Mary Howland

Daniel Casey
Keir Charles
Fiona Dunn
Anna Lauren
Katy Odey
Trevor White


A hilarious take on relationships from the heady heights and clear air of the ski slopes.

Chris is an emotionally reserved northerner, buttoned up and well and truly zipped up for a skiing holiday with his wife Alison and friends Dave and Bev. Alison makes a move for Tony, the glamorous, sun-tanned ski instructor, while Chris is drawn to Melissa, holidaying on her own and on the lookout for fun. Somebody's going to take a tumble, and inevitably it's during the après ski when things start to go off-piste!

Chris and Alison's relationship slaloms through bitching and bickering, rows and reconciliations, before hurtling downhill towards a final roll in the snow.

With some brilliant set-piece skiing scenes, On The Piste unfailingly touches a nerve with Godber's characteristic mix of broad humour and wry observation. The writer of popular comedy classics such as Bouncers and Up 'n' Under looks sympathetically at a couple dealing with their doubts and insecurities as they try to work out how they feel about each other.


DANIEL'S SKI DIARY - Extract from the 'On the Piste' programme

I accepted the part of Chris Baxter in On the Piste in the full knowledge that I would become a father for the first time during the run of the play. However the reality of the situation didn't quite hit me until I left my heavily pregnant wife waving me off on the doorstep as I set off to my first day of rehearsals in Birmingham.

For the whole of the journey I thought about our new arrival and the changes it would make to my life. However, these happy thoughts were soon dispelled when I had to make sense of the Birmingham traffic system.

The directions seemed straightforward enough but still I found myself going round the Paradise Circus roundabout three times, under various underpasses that I had been told under no circumstances I should use, back onto the A38, turning round at McDonalds drive-thru, past the underpass, do not pass go, do not collect œ200 - where am 1?

Eventually, more by luck than judgement, I ended up parking the car in the multistorey car park behind The REP.

Of course, in my reverie of impending fatherhood, I had totally forgotten to bring any change with me, to pay for parking. Luckily I spotted Fiona Dunn {Alison) in the car park and managed to borrow some money. Brilliant, not even at rehearsals yet and already I've made myself look like a cheapskate! I go straight to get change and in the process stuff my face with some muchneeded chocolate.

Read-throughs and the first day of rehearsals always feel like a mixture of first day at school and becoming an exhibit in a zoo for a day.

You are introduced to 27,000 people by name {all of whom stare at you like you are some kind of transient exotic creature). Then you sit down in front of these people, this time including John Godber the playwright, and read the play, secretly hoping that noone will find you out.

Read-through goes off without a hitch, and more importantly without last-minute recasting. The only thing for it is to have a hearty pint in the bar with the rest of the cast and get to know each other.

The last act of a busy first day is an hour's drive to Warwickshire to stay with my friend and ex onscreen boss, John Nettles.

Ring Ellie, no baby yet.


The cast have decided that we should have a sweepstake on the date of the baby's birth. I ring Ellie to check that it hasn't yet decided to honour us with its presence - it hasn't.

The sweepstake can go ahead. With a bit of insider information I am confident of victory, but then again I can't really lose. Rehearsals very good. Can't wait for tomorrow.

It has just hit home that I will have to actually ski in this production. We are on our way to Swadlincote to learn to ski on a dry ski slope.

Of course I am confident that I will be a natural, after all didn't Eddie the Eagle learn to ski around these parts?

Ryan, our ski instructor, inspires me with confidence. He looks as if he spends all of his time either skiing or surfing and surely some of his brilliance will rub off on me. I am the first of the group to fall over! It hurts but I try not to show it. Will Arnica work on a bruised ego? Oh no, I'm turning into my character.

Fiona shows great poise and balance on the slopes, Katy is elegant in her descent, Keir is a natural and picks it up very quickly, Anna, having snowboarded a fair amount, is a daredevil speedfreak, Trevor practically grew up on skis and so is on the 'big slope'. I think I am getting sunstroke. . . in Derbyshire!

After several falls, two Nurofen, and a litre of water something seems to click. I can ski. . . ish. By the end of the first day we are all schoosing down the slopes with a fair degree of confidence.

We are having our first cast outing tonight, an evening with ainspotting. At the intervall can't stand u my knees have fused after the day's exertions. In the bar afterwards, Keir reveal~ that he is something of a songwriter. If any you should see him after the show, be sure ask him to give you a rendition of 'I'd Be Lying To Myself' - very moving stuff!

Ring Ellie, still no baby.


We have boots and skis in the rehearsal room for the first time today. It is remarkably difficult to move on skis without being on snow or some other suitable substitute. Keil has turned into the incredible leaning man and can almost lie flat whilst keeping his ski on the floor. Despite the encumbrance of skis, rehearsals going very well.

Ring Ellie, still no baby.


An historic day - Middlesborough FC are in the UEFA Cup Final. Paul (Director) has decided in his infinite wisdom, that we need to rehearse on this, the most historic of eves I am, to say the least, bereft. The fact that I am able to rehearse at all is a miracle. The lads rally round by finding out where will be showing the match so that I can sprint straight there after rehearsals, to catch the second half. The day seems never-ending to me, until, at afternoon tea-break, our most benevolent and esteemed director says that we have worked so quickly we will be finishing in time for the match.

I am euphoric (this will not last).

Trevor, Keir and myself set out on the search for a suitable venue, and eventually decide on the Sports Bar. We avail ourselves of a much-needed alcoholic refreshment and settle down for the match. It is only then do we realize that the air-conditioning system was meant for a bar in Dubai - it is minus 7. Not to worry, the match will warm us up.

Middlesborough lose 4-0. We should havle had a penalty! Viduka missed a sitter. Trevor ventures the opinion that Seville were the better side - he's Canadian, a Spurs supporter, and calls it soccer - what does he know?

So with all euphoric urges spent, and early stage frostbite, we head off into the balmy Birmingham night, only that pesky traffic system to negotiate - the perfect end to a perfect night!

Ring Ellie, still no baby.


Rehearsals are moving on apace. Everyone is really gelling and the play is really starting to take shape. I think everyone has been extremely well cast - having said that, things were a little touch and go for a while. We

went to see Present Laughter as a cast and had a thoroughly good night. Simon Callow was a powerhouse and extremely funny. The sting in the tail came yesterday morning. Trevor loved Callow's performance so much that for a full day we had an Austrian Simon Callow-esque slightly Noel Cowardian ski instructor. Thankfully Trevor has left that one in the locker for another performance.

We all seem to be morphing into our characters. At the show the other night Trevor kept winking and clicking his tongue at pretty women a la ski instructors from Chamonix to Whistler to Gstad.

We take great pleasure in pointing out his new foible.

Ring Ellie, still no baby.


Over the weekend, baby nearly made an appearance - however after much ringing round my mam, Ellie's mum, midwives etc, we realise it was a false alarm. Still, I am very excited, I can't wait to meet my beautiful little son or daughter. The cast are relieved as none of them had Saturday's date in the sweepstake.

We are slightly worried about Paul. He is staying in a flat in the theatre and we are worried he is turning into a recluse, who will only venture out under cover of darkness. He is looking paler every day and Keir was convinced he saw him wearing a pair of slingbacks on his way from his flat to the rehearsal rooms. We think his ABBA fetish may be spiralling out of control.

Ring Ellie, still no baby.


I think Anna Lauren may explode - her boyfriend has been away surfing for a month, but is now back in the country. The knowledge that they are both on the same landmass is proving almost too much for poor Anna to bear. She has warned us that she may be a bit hyper on Saturday in anticipation of seeing him. I can't imagine what hyper will be like if what we have experienced these last two days is merely excitement. Did our first run-through today.

Note to self: stay in tonight with script and nice bottle of wine.

Ring Ellie, no baby.


And so we lead into our final week, nursing bruises from the ski slope. One more full week of rehearsals before tech week.

So plenty of time.

Still no baby!