Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Exit Stage Left

Being a painfully arrogant pseudo-intellectual who loves theatre that is self-referential and scathing of mainstream populism, Exit Stage Left is a dream come true. A new piece of theatre which mocks celebrity and ego-driven theatre, it has already been getting awards in South Yorkshire: co-writers and directors Paul O'Farrell and Ben Smithard are risking it all on heading to the Fringe. And they promise both tragedy and laughter...

"Exit Stage Left puts its audiences through a range of emotions from the brutal rarity of a hit and run to the almost farcical recreation of it by the 'theatre group' within the play," says O'Farrell. "When we debuted it in Sheffield, audiences were left taken aback by what one reviewer described as memorable scenes. Its fast paced, edge of the seat stuff and is performed by some exceptionally talented young actors. Some of our audiences said it made them question their responses to theatre by exposing some of the devices performers and shows use. We liked that."

The Ecco Theatre Company is made up of students and ex-students from a single Sheffield school, and has a clear agenda: new works by new talents. The Fringe makes sense as a focus for the company's ambitions: "Both Ben & I  are both regular attenders at the Fringe as audience and we love the atmosphere. It's the biggest festival in the world and that prospect of seeing something a bit special is incredible. The lure of putting our own work on was too much to resist," explains O'Farrell. 

There are two parts to the play: a tale of a fatal car crash, and the attempts by a bunch of crap actors, including a faded star. to translate it into drama. The potential absurdity of taking a real life horror and forging a tragedy is played up, and it allowed the writers to consider some trenchant themes.

"We wanted to use the mask of celebrity to explore what really interests us," he continues. "Drive & ambition. What will someone do to get what they want?" Going on to explore the world of celebrity culture, the price of fame and the consequences of our decisions, Exit Stage Left is a mordant glance at how reality rarely matches the glimmer of the glamour. 

"Celebrities are everywhere. We - as a society - can seem obsessed with them but what goes on beyond that shiny, glittering surface? We wanted to explore the cost of fame, of ambition."

Greenside Theatre (Venue 231)
 3rd – 5th Aug (Preview) 6th – 18th Aug 
17:20pm (85mins)

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