Being a company that mainly performs out of doors, the Natural Theatre has, over the years, become used to animal interruptions.
We were once hiding behind a wall at a deserted spot in the Yorkshire Dales ready to surprise some participants on a charity bike ride. We were dressed as waitresses in the style of Lyons Corner House nippies and intended to pop up and serve afternoon tea to the weary cyclists as they reached the top of a particularly gruelling hill.
We suddenly became aware of a bull in our field which was paying more than a little interest in our presence. As it trotted towards us, snorting loudly, we certainly lived up to our characters as we nipped back over the wall sharpish, cake stand and all, much to the astonishment of the occupants of a car that, unknown to us, had drawn up right next to our hidey-hole.
While working for another similar company, one of our regular musicians found himself the object of the amorous attentions of a particularly large Alsatian in the middle of a rather charming kids show on a run-down council estate. No amount of persuasion could get the creature to decease and its shaven-headed owner seemed completely unfazed. Imagine trying to play the flute with that mad beastie slavering over your shoulder! Needless to say, the kids found it quite hilarious.
In the course of performances the Naturals have been upstaged by a hippo, chased by a swan, had to cope with several spitting camels and even been distracted by a man leading a giant iguana on a lead. All of which in retrospect can be said to have added a certain je ne sais quoi to the event
In a circus in Berlin, the performing goat got into our wagon and ate all our greasepaint. Have you ever seen a goat wearing lipstick? And in Australia we famously accidentally walked through the crocodile enclosure in a theme park, oblivious to the lurking occupants.
However, the actors experienced a first on Boxing Day last week when, just after their show, a dog marched into the dressing room and proceeded to defecate all over the carpet. As their gig report states, the team is rather hoping Fido wasn’t expressing an opinion on their performance.