Tuesday, 3 November 2015

8. Donna reflects on playing Elsie in Shades Of Bad

I waited with baited breath for my entrance as Elsie. 

Having watched from episode 1 to 6, I wasn't too sure how the opening of episode 7 would materialise!  Well we didn't quite get the full impact of me being thrown down the stairs, no matter how many suitcases Jean would send flying to the bottom. And on first seeing the episode back,  I realised just how ready you need to be for your first take in film, so would have ideally liked to have done my opening scene again, but there are no second chances and having done a lot of theatre in the past I was so conscious of over acting, even though I was bound and gagged! 

However, I loved Elsie's first line, where in answer to Doris's "why were you knocking?" she replies "I was hungry".   Brilliant, the most unlikely answer from a woman who has just been thrown down the stairs by her daughter in law, which shows us instantly the strength of Elsie's  character.   I also love Wilma's line after listening to Doris telling Elsie that her son is having an affair with her, she says to Elsie "nice boy, you should be proud".  Then of course the last line in this episode when Elsie sees the sandwiches she says  "I'll have them".   

In episode 8 I love the way Elsie says how she can't believe what Doris and Wilma are making her son do....."living between two women".  She is totally in defence of her son being in any way guilty.

Episode 9  Oh my God, like Jean, when I first read this part of the script I was very uncomfortable with it.  Shock, horror, when we find out that Doris has a child locked in her cellar!  Elsie has a Grandchild?   You just had to keep reminding yourself that this was a fictitious drama, gradually turning into a horror.

Episode 10 is quite funny with Doris suggesting to Elsie she and Brad, her son, should make a suicide pact, with Wilma's reaction to Elsie being "let him murder you first, he might then reconsider and come and live with me".   So so surreal!

Episode 11 Says it all... Love this scene when Wilma asks Doris if they fell out, who would she watch the Jeremy Kyle show with?  Found it hilarious, but true to the Series, that Doris replies  "never watch that show again, it's full of very strange people" how ironic!

Episode 12  After watching this episode, I realised how clever Busters' idea of shooting the end of this scene really paid off, as visually I find it very funny. Firstly we see a back shot of the two heads of Doris and Elsie, ending with a front shot of Doris with Elsie creeping into shot with a white face and looking totally off her head.  Elsie has presumably fell into a bag of cocaine in the cellar, created by baking powder being blown into my face.  Unfortunately some of it caught my eye and so delayed the shoot a little, until I managed to get it out.

Episode 13  This I thought was a moment of genius when it was decided that a camera be put inside the oven, whereby the reflection that we see of Doris and Wilma creates the illusion for Elsie to think that they are both actually in the oven.   Whilst all of this is going on with Elsie, we hear more shocking truths as Doris plots to put her on the game!

Episode 15 Doris expands her business into a brothel and we see Elsie exhausted as, unbeknown to Elsie, as she is now addicted to the cocaine, she is the number one prostitute.  Elsie is tricked into believing she has just one suitor who she thinks is her boyfriend called Bill.

By Episode 18 Elsie starts to get suspicious of there being more than one Bill and so Doris tells her that she has a form of dementia where she suffers from facial recognition and whilst Elsie makes a cup of tea for Wilma and Doris, Doris cruelly gets Wilma to swap seats with her, so that each time Elsie turns to them, they are in a different chair, making Elsie believe she really has this form of dimentia.  This was very difficult to keep together, as so many times all three of us just corpsed .
Something I struggle with in all if this, as surreal as the series is and call me old fashioned, but it's one thing believing Elsie fails to recognise one Bills' face from the other, but there's more than a face in question here.....isn't there?
Funny end shot that didn't come out in the edit, where I look to be pulling up my draws and truth of it was, the attachment to my mike that was attached to my knickers was about to fall down!  I had no idea that the camera was still on me.

The Fly Episode 19  Lynn who plays Wilma, was surprised at how I didn't hesitate when asked to fall backwards off a chair in this episode with no thoughts of Stuart not being there to catch me.  It was only later I thought about the consequences of my hitting the tiled floor full on had he not caught me. Yikes!  But then of course I had every faith in Stuart.

Episode 20  Wasn't sure if I was relieved to hear that it wasn't Doris's daughter in the cellar, but someone she found there when they moved in?........ooh very dark.    



Elsie is played by actress Donna Flinn.  Shades Of Bad is a hit web series as well as a Book and Kindle.