Belfast Telegraph

Easter clowning around was no laughing matter

By Frances Burscough

Well that's Easter over with for another year. For me it was one of the more bizarre ones I can remember. I'll rewind a week to set the scene ...

As I sat at my dressing table getting ready to go out on Easter Sunday afternoon, I noticed both my neighbours from either side returning home from church all dressed in their Sunday best. Soon after that, a couple more cars pulled up outside and this time it was their grown-up kids and their families, carrying bunches of tulips and daffodils, Easter eggs and bottles of wine — no doubt all assembling for a slap-up lunch to celebrate the special day.

For a few moments as I sat there my mind wandered across the sea to Preston in Lancashire, as I thought of my own family homestead and imagined what would have been happening there at that time.

Dad would be home from Mass, possibly tackling a leg of lamb in the oven, whilst grandchildren ran around outside in the garden, hunting for Easter eggs that had been hidden earlier by my brother, Jim. The big dining table would have been extended to its full size and my sisters Marie and Louise would probably have been laying out the best tablecloth, setting all the places and decorating it with jugs of hand-picked flowers from the garden. Madeleine and Lydia, two of my nieces, would no doubt have been baking buns and covering them in chocolate frosting, topped with freckled sugar eggs, to look like birds' nests. Any second now there'll be a knock at the kitchen door and my brother Chris and his family will appear carrying a freshly-made simnel cake and a basket filled with Creme Eggs, one for everyone at the table ...

So that's what normal people do on Easter Sunday — traditional, age-old customs to mark the most important day on the Christian calendar.

I, on the other hand, was sitting at my dressing table transforming myself with stage make-up into a deranged psychotic clown for my part in a film shoot.

Here we go again, I thought, as I scraped my hair back into a bun and started to daub my face with white paint. So far in the last year I've dressed up as a zombie (for my article about the zombie sponsored walk in Belfast), as a fantasy character from the Dothraki tribe (for my audition as an extra in Game of Thrones), as Marilyn Monroe (for my feature about the world's most famous sex symbol), as a 1940s servicewoman (for my piece about appearing on stage in An Inspector Calls), as a leather-clad James Bond-style secret agent (for my appearance on stage as a stand-up at a comedy festival) and as a cat-suited, crimped-haired Christina Aguilera-lookalike for my article about the MTV awards. So, getting dressed up in an outrageous fantasy/novelty costume is such a regular occurence now that you could say that being abnormal is, for me ... well, normal.

This particular outing had been planned some time ahead — before anyone realised it would clash with Easter — as part of the filming schedule for Belfast's award-winning YellowFever Productions new movie. Without giving too much away, Splash Area is a slasher-style horror flick about a troupe of mad clowns who escape from a circus and go on a gorey killing spree in Belfast on Halloween night. As a cast member, I was required to look as freaky and as spooky as possible, a challenge I was more than happy to take on with great aplomb!

I will, of course, keep you up-to-date with the movie's progress and may even write a diary from behind the scenes of the film set.

And yes, I admit it, I probably do need my head seeing to.

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