Why are rehearsal diaries so compelling? One approaches them with cynicism and then ends up reading with racing heart through to the early hours, hurtling with a shared terror towards the described first night.
First and foremost, there is the gossip, the sense of being behind closed doors, and gaining off-guard glimpses into the nature of those who are frequently well-fortressed. The character of this gossip changes markedly as the actor-diarist grows older. In youth it is all about which tearaway deals the best cocaine to enable company shagging: in age it morphs into which besuited figure makes the most ruefully telling remark at the latest in a series of memorials for fallen comrades.
There is also the familiarity of the expected pattern, now established through a plethora of actors’ diaries, and of savage lampoons of the same.