Monday, 28 December 2009

Paper Scissors Stone

So Chain Gang has come to an end and been named Paper Scissors Stone. It is now available for you to listen to in a handy all-in-one omnibus form for the next five days on the BBC iPlayer.

The scripts and storylines for each of the thirteen episodes are online here.

The recording of Episode 13 required reactions from a crowd. Recorded at St Pancras Station, we were that crowd. I cheered and applauded with the best of them.

Friday, 25 December 2009

What The Dickens?

In 2007, A Dickens Of A Christmas was a qualified success, apparently not making a huge amount of profit but it did manage to shift a great many tickets for 2008's show. A loss leader if you will.

The previous year we had rehearsed far more Dickens material than we could ever actually fit into the show. This time the show was tighter and more focussed. It involved small groups acting independently of each other mounting short versions of Dickens novels. Meanwhile other groups were acting out little bits of business at tables up and down the space.

The conceit being that we were actors playing actors playing Dickensian characters, so we came up with our own names. Mine was Johnny Cholera.

It was looking like a good show and we were due to run all through December. We did three performances before it was cancelled. Tickets weren't refunded and actors weren't paid. I won't go into more detail because there are court cases pending.

We did an abridged version of the show at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, partly as a fundraiser but as a cathartic experience as well. The frustration among the cast was extreme. There are at any one time many more actors than there are acting jobs. So to get a paid acting gig and then have it taken away from you is horrific. There was a sort of trench humour that crept into our conversation and a cameraderie in the face of adversity that has endured.

Left: the Evening Standard article on the cancellation.

This time it was Watchdog that visited.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Dickens Of A Christmas

In December of 2007 whilst Train Of Thought was wending its way through underground London, but I spent almost the entire month at Shunt. An underground venue in London Bridge.

It could have been a bit of a busman's holiday really.

A Dickens Of A Christmas was a part theatre show, part corporate Christmas party. It was made up of bits of Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickeby and A Tale Of Two Cities, all held together by bits of A Christmas Carol.

I played Pip in the Great Expectations sections.

It was a lot of fun and a really good bunch of people.

The Guardian paid it a visit.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Sleeping Beauty

My first Equity contract for actual proper paid acting work was in a panto. I was playing the roles of Carabosse and the Prince in a school's tour of Sleeping Beauty for the Globe Players. Four weeks in a van crammed full of actors and set travelling from school to school to school in December.

In the first half I played the evil fairy Carabosse scarily cursing spindles and making small puddles under small children. In the second half I played the handsome prince liberating a beautiful sleeping young lady with his lips. Within the narrative of the play one hundred years separate these two characters, in actual fact I only had the distance between stage right and left to change backstage from one costume to the other. So instead of course I found myself wearing one costume on top of the other and the reveal of the handsome prince would have been more accurately described as the reveal of the hot sweaty prince. The children were often more repulsed by the hero of the piece than the villain.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Ganged Up

Life gets in the way.

Between rehearsals for various things, other writing deadlines, a film shoot, a film reshoot and a full time temp job in an office, I didn't get round to writing any more for Chain Gang.

I am however attending the live recording of the final episode of Chain Gang at St. Pancras station today.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Slash Reshoot

It's time to head back to Bournemouth to shoot some more Slash, but this time in daylight.

Hopefully it won't break the bank.

P.S. This is this blog's hundredth post.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Story Of A Charmless Man

So the story begins:
Ten years ago today I saw Blur play a gig at Birmingham's NEC and then reviewed it for the King Alfred's Sixth Form Chronicle, that's right I'm dredging up things I wrote at school. Stand by for What I Did On My Summer Holidays and My Favourite Animal Is...

Reading it back after all this time, I'm a little embarrassed by how condescending it is:

I went to see Blur with Elle Pullen on their Tenth Anniversary Singles Night Tour. When we got there we sat while a bad DJ mixed badly to a bored audience (if God is a DJ then I'm Hilda Ogden). As soon as he'd finished Blur came on, slowly we all stood, it was almost like a Mexican wave. To the opening of I Know (almost ironic because no one did) those that could jump, jumped and those that could mosh, moshed. She's So High, Blur's first ever single started after an introduction from vocalist Damon Albarn that used the 'word' um even more times than I did in my German Oral (which is saying something) and he explained the premise of the evening: to play their single releases in chronological order. There's No Other Way followed and everybody feeling things were going well, until they played Bang. It was terrible, a fact it seems, since they admitted it, but only after subjecting us to it.

Popscene was up next and was a Song 2 in the making and was probably better. For Tomorrow was my favourite song played that night since my favourites never made it to be singles. As soon as we peak we are brought crashing down again with Chemical World and Sunday Sunday with their annoying shared la la la la la chorus. The latter however is a wry and humorous take on how we spend our day of rest, a fact lost on the great majority of people watching who simply pointed at the screens and yelled "Ahhh! Cows."

The very same people breathed a sigh of relief when they heard Girls & Boys, their bafflement was over. As quickly as it had arrived it disappeared with To The End, a beautiful song, which is much better sung in the original French. Football chants welcomed Phil Daniels to the stage, as he yelled the introduction to Parklife to us. At a very poignant time of the year, they shared End Of A Century with us and it was a better millennial epic than Robbie Williams could ever dream of.

The chanters were back in force when Country House started, and when it finished The Universal started up to a great response. Stereotypes went down well despite the feeling that we were standing among some of the inspirations for it. Charmless Man was another success.

Things quietened down when Beetlebum was played, despite the nature of the lyrics. Then everything fell apart and the crowd went wild as the unmistakable beginning to Song 2 was played to bassist Alex James' obvious disgust. It seemed that the majority of the audience paid their £20 only wanting to hear 2 minutes of live music, but the sight of drummer Dave Rowntree's arms literally blurring during some impro is one that made this a great night. Damon's Jay Kay impression during On Your Own was lost on most. M.O.R. (Middle Of the Road) was very popular despite being a direct parody of the mainstream that the majority of the crowd seemed to hold so dear.

And now up to date with Tender, which featured the London Community Gospel Choir and is much better live. A gospel choir adlibbing is a great sight. Lead guitarist Graham Coxon sang the lyrics to Coffee & TV, but not before he'd said "we'll just miss this one out". Once again people pointed to the screens when the now famous milk carton appeared. No Distance Left To Run was a good song to end on, almost depressing enough to make it all worthwhile. As the band said their goodbyes and left, so did we.

The concept of playing your singles is not one that appeals to me, especially as my favourites are their lo-fi recordings like Look Inside America and Swallows In The Heatwave, but it seems too elitist and an attempt to pacify either record label bosses or the moronic single buying public (I can see that copy of Daphne & Celeste in your pocket) or possibly both. I did however enjoy it immensely and if I had to give it marks out of ten: I wouldn't. I will say 'It Were Good.'

Monday, 7 December 2009

You Are Cordially Invited

I'm playing Aplombov the bridegroom in Anton Chekov's 1889 short play The Wedding tomorrow at 7:30 pm at Pushkin House.

More details here.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Christmas Around The World

I had to wait a full year for the next production and it was a hell of a comedown after the previous one. I was given a stern telling off when I failed to hide my disappointment.

It was a series of scenes each clumsily illustrating the Yuletide customs of a particular country for the benefit of a visiting alien who walked across the stage from left to right delivering lines like "This is Australia on the continent of Australasia".

I played a Mexican.

It was rubbish.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Christmas Carol

With Christmas on the horizon, I thought I'd take a look at the various Yuletide shows I've been involved with:

Way back in the Christmas of 1990, the children of Millbrook Junior School's fifth year put on a production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The three classes were each responsible for one of the three time periods. Mrs Glencross' class were alloted Christmas Past and I played Mr Fezziwig. Definitely deserving of a special mention is Ross Sadler who played Scrooge throughout and thus had far more responsibility than any of the rest of us.

I think if I had to blame one moment for making me want to be an actor it was during this show. Mr & Mrs Fezziwig throw a party and one of our scenes ended with us clearing up after it. Mrs Fezziwig took her time and we ran out of dialogue before our exit, so I ad libbed. I was ten so I wouldn't have even had a clue what an ad lib was, but I made up a couple of lines to cover us to the edge of the stage. And they got a laugh. All right, so the audience was made up of the cast's family members but a room full of adults laughing at something you did on purpose is heady stuff for a child.

I was hooked.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Hearts In The Gutter Today

The streets of London play host to a show made up of monologues, scenes, sketch and songs set on the streets of London today here.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Fat Children

Another video from the recent Jarvis Cocker Makes An Exhibition Of Himself Again at Village Underground.

This time with aerobics.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Hearts In The Gutter

Behind The Bike Shed is back.

The next show, called Hearts In The Gutter, back in the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen at 3pm on Sunday the 29th of November, for £3.

See left.

Friday, 20 November 2009

I Bought A Credit

It's incredibly difficult to finance a film, so in a similar way to this, you've got to be impressed with these three bright sparks inviting anyone and everyone to buy a credit at

They are attempting to film an adaptation of Clovis Dardentor, an 1896 novel by Jules Verne that I don't mind admitting I had never heard of. They already have Stephen Fry & Annette Badland attached and my CV loitering in their email inbox. Judging by the stature of the cast of their recent short film Jam, I'm under no illusions that they will need my help, but it's worth a go.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Slash For Cash

So it turns out that all that running around in the dark was worth it as everyone seems to be happy with Slash's nocturnal scenes, but we were unable to film the two daytime scenes and so a reshoot is on the cards.

It also needs paying for.

Writer and Producer Lucy V Hay blogs about your opportunity to contribute funds for it here. I wholeheartedly endorse her efforts.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Dance Along With The Common People

Here's some footage from the Jarvis Cocker Makes An Exhibition Of Himself...Again gig on Wednesday night.

Jarvis shows you the moves. Go on. Join in.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Further Exhibitions

Tonight I managed to make up for lost time and I also managed to snap this photo mid-gig.

Friday, 6 November 2009

London Met Ad

I didn't go to drama school. There I've said it.

Instead I went to university. Specifically the University of North London. At the end of our first year it amalgamated with Guildhall to become the ever-increasingly huge London Metropolitan University. In an effort to rebrand, the new uni spent money on an advert which ran in cinemas in 2003. I'm in this, although I'll be amazed if you can spot me. My sideburns have never been quite as luxuriant since.

Other LMU alumni seen in the advert include Zoe Alyssa Cooper, Laura Dobson and Claire Ludgate.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Slash Shoot

The shoot for Slash didn't quite go according to plan. This is writer and producer Lucy Hay's summing up of the catalogue of things that went wrong.

It's not all bad news, because despite the setbacks we actually got a lot in the can. I'm really looking forward to seeing the end result.

What I can tell you is that it gets bloody cold in the middle of the forest in late October (and as it turned out early November as well) in the rain. However nobody was really in any position to complain because Lucy Laing (below) spent the night wearing very nearly more blood than clothing.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


It's Halloween.

An appropriate night to be filming a comedy horror short film in Bournemouth...

Monday, 26 October 2009

Arthur Linton

Arthur Linton was born in 1872 in Somerset but grew up in Aberaman in South Wales. He held a great many British records at distances up to 200 miles and became one of the great cycling champions. In 1893 he signed as a professional cyclist to ride a under the tutelage of the amazingly named trainer ‘Choppy’ Warburton.

1894 saw him defeat the French Champion in Paris, lose out by a narrow margin to the Italian Champion, who thereafter refused to race him again. In spite of this he was given the title ‘Champion Cyclist of the World’.

While 1895 was an injury prone one for him, the following year saw him achieve celebrity status in France after victory in the 1896 Bordeaux to Paris race. Tragically, this race looks to have taken its toll on his body and Arthur Linton died in June 1896, just six weeks after the race. He was just 24 years old. Reports differ as to whether he succumbed eventually to Typhoid Fever or the possibility that he was the first athlete to have died as a result of drugs in sport. ‘Choppy’ was implicated in the deaths of Arthur’s brother Tom and Jimmy Michael as well. He was banned from the sport although his guilt or innocence was impossible to prove.

Arthur Linton has been recognised by the Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Blue Plaque scheme and Arthur Linton is commemorated today for his achievements with a plaque mounted on the house where he lived in Aberaman.

According to Cllr Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Recreation: “Arthur Linton’s life was quite remarkable and I’m pleased to see that his many achievements are still being celebrated more than a century after his death. His rags to riches story will undoubtedly inspire all those who hear it.”

Arthur Linton was my great-great-uncle.

(Photos above: Arthur Linton on his bike circa 1896 and my father holding his blue plaque 113 years later.)

Friday, 23 October 2009

I Asked Dr. Pulp

From 1997 to its close in 2002 I was a member of Pulp People, the fan club of the Sheffield band. Over the years newsletters were sent out as and when there was enough news to fill them. Many included a feature called 'Ask Dr Pulp' in which assembled members of the band would answer questions sent in by fans.

Since GQ have recently printed an interview with Jarvis their editor conducted for The Sunday Times in 1998 practically verbatim and passed it off as new, it seems as if anything goes. So here are the questions the good Doctor asked Candida Doyle, Jarvis Cocker, Mark Webber, Nick Banks & Steve Mackey on my behalf, presented here as if in the form of a continuous interview. I seemed to have a knack for asking the wrong question:

Why is The Day After The Revolution “so bloody long”?
Candida: “Don't ask me!”
Jarvis: “The song itself is only the regulation four minutes”
Mark: “What kind of a stupid question is that?”

How democratic are decisions made within the group?
Nick: “Sometimes it's difficult for decisions to be made by committee. Pulp democracy changes depending on the subject in question.”
Candida: “I'll have to come to an agreement with the rest of the band before I answer this one, unless Jarvis has a particular answer.”

Do Pulp think Britpop is dead, and does it really matter?
Candida: “Well, I never liked the Britpop idea but the sad thing is, now that it's gone - which it has - what we are left with is much much worse, and that does matter.”
Nick: “Thank god, yes, and not in the slightest.”

What goes into consideration when deciding on a set list?
Mark: “Far too much. It's not interesting.”
Jarvis: “Biorhythms, chakra alignments, I-Ching forecast, personal hygiene, proximity to ley-lines centres of earth magic, closing time.”
Steve: “Whatever Jarvis feels like playing…”

Originally published in Issues 24 to 28 of the Pulp People Newletter.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

DwarfCast 19

I finally got round to listening to Ganymede & Titan's DwarfCast 19, their instant reaction to Red Dwarf's Back To Earth, Part One and to my surprise a comment I made on their website was read out at about twenty minutes in.

Featuring Jonathan Capps, Karl Eisenhauer, John Hoare, Tanya Jones, Seb Patrick, Tom Pyott, Jo Sharples, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Passenger Information

Reviewer: Webcowgirl
December 18, 2007

Without doubt, one of the most clever shows I will have seen this year is going to be “Train of Thought,” a terribly fun event that took place for just barely a week. The concept, as it was explained to me, was that you would ride the tube and be able to hear the thoughts of the other riders. This massively clicks with several of my interests, most specifically, site specific performance and, um, not telepathy but the concept of a dreamtime where you experience several different layers of reality (many pasts, for example) while being aware of being in the now. (I also am interested in the Tube in general, not to a freakish level of geekishness, but enough.)

Anyway … the play was more fun than I expected, despite having many of the challenges I associate with site-specific works. (If you go to a lot of these, you realize that the vagaries of the space, especially if it is a public space, is something you just have to deal with. You’re not going to sit down in your chair and have an usher and get drinks during the interval – it’s just not how it works.) We actually met a “conductor” before the show (and were caught up with the rest of the group), but then had to wait 20 minutes for a circle line to show up.

From then on, it was pretty smooth sailing. The gig was that we had headphones on listening to a radio station, and a little FM transmitter was broadcasting to us on “The Oracle Line” (marked on a map we were given out before we boarded), which said what the names of the different stops were as we pulled up to them – and admonished us to Mind the Gap as we exited the train. It also let us in on the thoughts of our other passengers, in a series of vignettes – from the usual mindless “where’s my book” to “God, look at these pictures of us when we went to Barbados …” to “I hate my job” – but as you heard the “thoughts” played you cast your eyes about the train trying to figure out who was “thinking” them. I had total synchronicity with the “where’s my book” guy – it was really just like reading his mind! I found this ridiculously pleasant.

While I did have problems with reception at times, overall this was a great play and I can’t wait to see what Minkette will do next time!

(This review is of a performance done Friday, December 14th.)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


We've reached the end of the line for the Train Of Thought.

The third and final piece I wrote for Train Of Thought. This was not included in the show, judge for yourselves. I play Trevor, again recorded by David Aldhouse.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Life & Death Of Thomas Cromwell

I'm taking part in a rehearsed reading today of Thomas Cromwell, a play which some scholars think may have been written by Shakespeare. Well, bits of it anyway, with a group of friends and probably under the influence.

It hasn't been performed for four hundred years and there may well be a good reason for that. All that changes today at 2pm here.

Friday, 9 October 2009

It's My Birthday

Twenty eight years ago today I sprang forth and the planet was never the same again.

I'm reliably informed that I share my birthday with: John Lennon, Brian Blessed, Scott Bakula, PJ Harvey, Tony Shalhoub, John Entwhistle, Alastair Sim, David Cameron, The Phantom Of The Opera, the Khmer Republic and a slavery-free Costa Rica.

Shame about David Cameron, but what can you do?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Chain Gang 2009 Episode 2 Storyline

Since my storyline for Episode 2 of Chain Gang 2009 wasn't chosen, here it is:

Brian and Susan return to their hotel room. He is amorous, but she is distracted. When she undresses he gets even more amorous, but she gets in the shower instead, much to his disappointment.

Loudly, over the noise of the shower, Brian and Susan have an awkward conversation which leads to his calling reception to find out if there are any other Fergusons staying at the hotel. The voice on the phone tells him they cannot give out guest’s personal information and Brian ends the call, then loudly for Susan’s benefit states that reception said there are no other people called Ferguson staying there.

Brian is bored and tells Susan he's going out to get her something, it’s a surprise. Susan gets out of the shower, but he’s gone. She remembers the piece of paper the other Mrs Ferguson gave her and rifles in various pockets to find it. When she does, she has to convince herself to unfold and read it. The writing on the paper reads ‘Look behind you…’

Thursday, 1 October 2009


The day gets off to a bad start for this commuter as the Train Of Thought arrives at the next station.

If you think Martyn overreacts and assumes the worst, spare a thought for the people on the tube during the performances who were not in the audience. A group of people arrive together all carrying radios and wearing headphones and furtively searching the carriage to try and work out which passenger is having these thoughts. It must have seemed pretty suspicious.

I played Martyn, again recorded by David Aldhouse.

Monday, 28 September 2009

500 x Carruthers

But I would write 500 posts
And I would write 500 more
Just to be the man who wrote 1000 posts
Typing til my fingers are sore

The Mr Carruthers Presents...Daily blog has reached 500 posts. Some are good, many are not, but for better or worse I wrote them all, well except for a few bits of Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry and various reviewers & lyricists.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Meet The Fergusons

So Chain Gang is back, but this time it's different. The audience is no longer being asked to write it themselves but instead to come up with a storyline for it which Rob Shearman will adapt.

You can both hear and read his Episode 1 online and then formulate your own continuation of the storyline and submit it.

I've submitted mine, which I'll post here at some point whether it's successful or not.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Make Up

A duologue, but not dialogue, about tube travel. We hear the inner thoughts of two passengers as one attempts to do her make up en route.

The audience heard this via radios through their headphones, while two actors sat silently opposite each other on the tube as one of them putting on make-up. Probably her. I was only physically present once because I was working in a completely different subterranean tunnel on A Dickens Of A Christmas, but more on that story later.

Featuring Mink Ette and myself, and recorded by David Aldhouse.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Chain Again

Derailing the Train Of Thought briefly, because amazingly, Picture This was broadcast in an omnibus form on BBC7 yesterday, will be on iPlayer for the next seven days and the award-winning prose is available to read online. I hadn't thought about it for two years, then I stumbled across my attempt at an episode elevenish out of the blue and now it's back.

There's a new one on the way and I'm going to have a go at writing some of it.

Chain Gang 2009 begins September 26th at 5.55pm.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Train Of Thought

Have you ever looked at other people on the tube and wondered: what are they thinking?

Between the 12th and the 19th of December 2007, Train Of Thought was Mink Ette's site-specific piece which placed the audience on the London Underground, armed them with radios, surrounded them with actors and allowed them to listen to the thoughts of their fellow travellers.

Featuring Laura Bateman, Charlie Fish, Tin Horse, Minkette, Shireen Mula, Parrot (in the) Tank and me.

I wrote and recorded three of these inner monologues and two were included within the show. I'll upload them here over the next week or so.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Touring Deceptions

It's been a while since Deceptions finished and I was looking back through the photographs that I took on the road.

And here are the highlights:

Check out the glamour. Broken windows, holes in the walls and Asbestos warnings.

The warm weather, Andy Murray and the sign above were blamed by many for generally poor attendance at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Maybe it has more to do with fact that no two people seem to pronounce Yvonne Arnaud the same way.

You know you've made it when...

Brighton's Theatre Royal boasts The Colin Baker Kitchenette. I really hope he's aware of it. Some people have hospital wards named after them, but does anybody really care? No, you just want to get in, get your chemotherapy and get out. A kitchenette though, anyone can relate to that.

Despite it being June, my dressing room still had a lone Christmas decoration hanging up. Six months early or six months late Brighton's dressing room 3 is prepared for Yuletide.

Since I was at home during Richmond, it felt more like a day job, and it's difficult to even really call it touring.

Dressing room highlights in Richmond included a forgotten pair of filthy tights and a single cigarette hidden away in a drawer.

Marketing is obviously very important in order to distinguish your play from the competition. We began with a psychological drama which became a black comedy when tickets didn't shift. Here we see two distinct approaches:

In order to draw attention to this week's show, why not have its poster falling toward the window?

Another approach here to selling a two-hander: convince the audience it's a one-woman show.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle's Optional Extras

In addition to six episodes covering issues as varied as Books, Television, Political Correctness, Credit Crunch, Religion & Comedy. The DVD also features:

= Audio Commentaries on all six episodes by Stewart Lee, Paul Putner & Kevin Eldon.

= Stewart Lee vs Armando Iannucci, six red button bits.

= Behind The Wheel, a 16 minute documentary concerning the making of Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle.

= Subtitles, which as tradition dictates run along the bottom of the screen, in what is apparently (and pointlessly) called a Chyron, and transcribe what is being said verbally in the medium of sound into the corresponding written word.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle on DVD

Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (featuring yours truly) is available on shiny shiny disc at all good stockists from yesterday.

And probably some rubbish ones as well.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


I have an even-if-you-don't-blink-you'll-probably-still-miss-me part in Exploits, a film written and directed by Alper Cagatay currently in post-production.

Exploits Coming Soon.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Picture This

The Chain Gang was a radio series on BBC7 written by the listeners, the second series was entitled Picture This and was broadcast in 2007. Rob Shearman wrote the first and last episodes with listeners encouraged to resolve the cliffhangers and write the next episode themselves (in about 300 words).

The following was my unsuccessful attempt to write an episode 11 or 12, and since it won Bronze in The Competition Award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards they were probably better off without me. Sadly the Beeb have taken the finished version down from their website so it's difficult to illustrate exactly how this would have fit into the existing narrative which apparently ended up involving lesbians on the Eiffel Tower. I bet you want to read it now.

I'd like to write you a 'Previously on...' to set the scene but it's been that long that I've forgotten most of it. It involved a camera that could take photos of the near future. Somehow there's a photo that suggests Gary is going to die, something references Alan Turing and as we join them he's absorbed something into his hand:

Deena stared at Gary in the dimness of the carriage, for what seemed like ages. She half expected the orange glow to shine from behind his eyes or out of his mouth like in a film, but it didn’t. When he spoke there was no mysterious voice, just Gary with a little extra confusion.
“Did I drop it?” he asked, unconvincingly.
“No” Deena said slowly.

Gary took his eyes off the floor and stared first at his now empty hand, then at the camera in the other.
“The camera never lies” Gary said soberly.
“Don’t” Deena pleaded.
“Why?” Gary asked, catching her eye.

A little flustered Deena asked him to change the subject. Gary started asking questions about Turing. She was aware her answers weren’t much help and was relieved when Gary said “Wasn’t he the guy with the shroud?”

She laughed, surprising herself. She felt a little more relaxed and looked around the carriage. The train hadn’t moved. And the longer she looked the surer she was that nor had any of the passengers. No movement at all. Was that even possible? All frozen. Just like a photograph.

Someone was moving though. Deena heard something. She could hear footsteps…

Sunday, 30 August 2009

For The Love Of Dog

I didn't use the stimulus photo because the Dog Lady video was a sort of a sequel to another piece I'd already written about her.

Zoe Alyssa Cooper once again played Karen, she was really the only choice after leaving such an indelible mark on it the first time around.

Starring Zoe Alyssa Cooper and directed & edited by Benjamin Roberts, this was shot on location with London's Hoxton Square doubling for New York's Central Park.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Dog Lady Stimulus

Behind The Bike Shed is currently gearing up for its next show, the first with which I'm not involved. The dates just didn't work out. They'll be in London's Hoxton Square on the 6th of September.

The previous show was In The Frame, in which each scene was accompanied by a photograph which was a stimulus of sorts.

This photograph was the companion piece to the Dog Lady video, it was taken by Tiziano Niero and I didn't use it...

Monday, 24 August 2009

The White Rose

The reviews for the Edinburgh run of The White Rose:

Reviewer: Jessica Elgot
August 2008

It is Munich 1942 and terror has gripped the citizens of Nazi Germany; this is the tale of the people who refused to be ruled by fear. A true story, it is based on the beginning of the White Rose Nazi resistance movement, and is beautifully acted, the tension so well evoked that one terrified audience member cried out when the young movement's leaders decide to fight the noble cause that will lead to their execution. However, a mere forty minutes of a story with such human anguish and historical intrigue felt overly fleeting. Nevertheless, it is testament to the skill of this talented company that it was torturous to be left hanging just as the action began, knowing the tragedy that was to come.
tw rating: 4/5

"Timeless parable of ideas over self-interest"
Reviewer: Paddy Cooper
August 17, 2008

Yesterday, I gushed with admiration of MMVI Theatrical’s psychological tour-de-force ‘The Poisoner’s Tale’. I suggest loyal readers gird their loins while I prepare to do the same for the show they are playing in rep therewith – Melanie Boyce’s historical drama and timeless parable of ideas over self-interest ‘The White Rose’.

The show is inspired by the true story of The White Rose movement, devised by four friends – Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie, Christoph Probst and Alexander Schmorrel – who distributed inspirational pamphlets throughout wartime Germany urging opposition to the Nazi regime before paying the ultimate price at the guillotine on being discovered.

Boyce has decided to deal with the story’s origins rather than its outcome, ending at such a point as to allow the audience to experience in the hours after it ends the slow-burn of personal decision if faced with the question “Recant or die” and doing so with the bold but blisteringly effective simplicity that MMVI Theatrical have made their trademark at this fringe.

The use of protracted silence at the beginning as Hans and Alex sit studying and writing was potent without undue discomfort – it was not the silence of ball-busting import or the silence of ball-busting forgetfulness – it was a measured, well-executed (if you’ll forgive the term) silence that bespoke calm and comfort between actors/characters and engendered a feeling of intense interest in them in the audience that was a perfect hook to the start of play that would require much of the audience’s broad emotional palette.

The same cast that so expertly rendered ‘Poisoner’s Tale’ yesterday are back and in as good a form, though in a different mode and character style. Light-hearted banter and genuinely sharp humour turns sharply to intense seriousness and was effected with grace, skill and emotional athleticism. They created palpable tension without the melodrama that could so easily arise from a story of such swift and terrible power and built up the electric charge that bristles throughout by the time Sophie delivers her final, chilling line.

The notable thing with cast mentions on this occasion is that one can say that each actor had their chance to stretch their legs in a different direction and prove their worth in terms of versatility.

David Black, the caustic D of ‘Poisoner’s Tale’ makes the role of Hans Scholl his own – a steel core of self-knowledge, responsibility to his sister and absolute devotion to his cause is coated with a measured, calm, personable disposition which nevertheless did not mask his inner fire, gently painting a character portrait of nuanced tones.

Mark Collier shed the more pronounced bittersweetness of C in yesterday’s show to allow a greater stridency to come through in his portrayal of Christoph – commanding an easy authority and a gently noble regard of torn sensibility as the idealistic if necessarily cautious family man and crusader.

In the brimstone left behind after his volcanic performance yesterday, Brogan West has found a rich vein of acidity (in wit and bluntness) to add to his role as Alex. Alex – the one whose words need watching – was portrayed with a just fire that burns with a sense of impatient frustration, and in a very well-rounded manner for a part which a lesser actor could so easily have made worryingly two-dimensional

Natalie Wakelin carries a heavy burden in this show – not only closing the show in a manner which commands huge respect, but also showing the development of Hans’s younger sister from bright-eyed new student to key proponent of peaceful resistance with clear storytelling capabilities and great poise, coming firmly into her own in the second act and closing with the set jaw and pride of a ship’s figurehead, and perfect judgement of the emotion and tone needed.

With calm assurance, in a mode of performance where intentions were stated clearly and robustly without recourse to melodrama, the team at MMVI Theatrical have created two shows which link together well while retaining their own identity, the overlaps interesting without being laboured. Above all, director Melanie Boyce and her cast have shown, especially through ‘White Rose’ that, in instances where ideas matter, anger can be a virtue, frustration a catalyst and justice a matter that requires idealists to effect its truth, even in the hearts and minds of others. Of course, nothing comes for free – here, the price paid is the price of heroes. How fitting that they were so heroically portrayed.

Theatre Wales doesn’t offer star ratings for shows, but I think in this case, we can probably chuck MMVI Theatrical in a minor galaxy and let them take their pick. In the meantime, someone give them a tour, there’s good chaps.
"An excellent production"
August 14, 2008
Reviewer: Liz, England
5 Stars

What must it have been like, to live in Germany during the second world war but to disagree with the actions of the regime? This high quality production gives us a stunning insight, with the cast creating a strong atmosphere of tension. This excellent production deserves a larger audience.
"Excellently acted"
22 August, 2008
Reviewer: Iain, Scotland
4 Stars above it does leave you wanting more...but that must be a good thing. The pace is superb winding the tension up like a spring until the finale. The space is intimate - you almost feel as if you are sitting at the table. The writing was taut - not a wasted word - well worth seeing.