Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Best Dramaturgy Ever: Delicious Theatre @ Edfringe 2017

Delicious Theatre presents their debut production

‘The Best Play Ever’

An original comedy about friendship, creativity and maverick pie detectives.

theSpace on North Bridge (Venue 36)
North Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1SD
21st-26th August, 22:05 (1 hour)

Deep in the medieval dungeons of the Royal Palace, two strangers dwell. The Crown Polisher and the Horn Blower have been framed for the murder of Eric the Court Jester and have been condemned by King Louis to write the best play ever or face execution by royal blade. 

Over the course of their imprisonment, the two are forced to collaborate, and question why they are in prison in the first place. Who knows? Maybe they even write a play...

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Joe Large and Lucio Gray conceived the idea behind this play about eight months before they approached me to direct it and hearing about how exactly they came up with it fed a lot in to how we went about putting it on to the stage.

In the early summer of 2016, Joe and Lucio had watched a lot of serious student theatre and thought that perhaps everyone could do with a good laugh to cleanse their theatrical pallets. And so – just like the maverick pie detectives in the play – they decided to be mavericks and write something very silly, set in a pseudo-medieval land about the struggles of writing good drama.

Most of their inspiration came from trying to do something a bit different, a bit kooky and a bit silly. When they first handed me the script I could draw parallels between duos like Fry and Laurie and Blackadder and Baldrick, with a little bit of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern existentialism sprinkled on top for good measure.

It’s a remarkable script to read off the page – it’s gloriously tightly wrought comedy – and upon my first read, it was very clear that this play had to be performed by the writers. And so the casting decision was made and the process begun.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

Yes, absolutely! I believe that theatre has always been a platform to discuss ideas, and performance can expose these ideas to a multitude of people. Even a fun, escapist comedy such as The Best Play Ever values the ideas of friendship, persistence and laughter in the face of adversity. We hope that the fond attachment that our audiences will develop towards our protagonists will open up discussions about these ideas.

The discussion of serious, political ideas and issues in theatre is as fundamentally important as it always has been. Especially currently in a society which seems increasingly hostile and divided, theatre is offering people a chance to express themselves creatively. But we believe that there’s still a place for escapist, fun comedy like The Best Play Ever. Comedy is very important – we must laugh in the dark every now and then. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I’ve always been very interested in the relationship between literature and theatre, the process of bringing things page to stage and how a deep analysis of the text can fuel interpretation. I originally approached theatre as a performer, but after having had some opportunities to direct at University, I found that this was where my true interest in theatre lies. Making performance in this way enabled me to realise on a stage my own interpretations of works of text, which I found to be deeply interesting and rewarding.

Is there a particular approach to the making of the show?

Yes – the approach to this show has been massively collaborative and experimental. The main difference between this show and any other that I have done has been the fact that I am working so closely with the writers. This has meant that many aspects of the show have been massively collaborative. In this sense, we have been able to mould the show in to exactly what we like it to be from doing things like redrafts during rehearsals, trying out new lines and seeing how far we can push the comedy. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our first production with Delicious Theatre, and whilst we hope to create a multitude of very different productions in the future and with a blend of different people to create shows, we hope that The Best Play Ever will fit very well in its originality and ambition.

As a director, the show very much fits with my usual productions. I am greatly interested in directing comedy and specifically plays of the farce genre. Most recently I have directed comedy musical Guys and Dolls, and prior to that two farces of my own writing, Election Day (about a student election) and Foul Play (about sixth formers attempting to perform twelfth night). The Best Play Ever has an excellent farcical quality to it – especially in the middle section – which I have particularly enjoyed working with Lucio and Joe on. Perhaps one day I will segue away from comedy but for now I can’t resist it…

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Fundamentally we hope our audiences will have a really enjoyable hour of escapism and come away feeling a sense of real fondness for the silly characters that they’ve just seen on the stage. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

In the rehearsal process, considering our audiences were some of the main discussions we had surrounding the script. Because it is a comedy so dependent on audience response, we had to have a small rewrite in between our three performance locations (Manchester, Surrey and Edinburgh) which considered venue changes and target audiences. A way in which we have shaped our audience experience was through improvisation, both in rehearsals and on stage, which kept the performance very fresh and new each night.​​​​​​​​​​​

Delicious Theatre is an exciting new company formed by a group of experienced young theatre makers based in Manchester. They aim to create innovative, experimental, and accessible work, whilst collaborating with artists of all disciplines.

Director: Emily Oulton is a National Operatic and Dramatic Association Award winning director.

Producers: Sophie Graci and Katie O’Toole are experienced comedy and theatre producers within University of Manchester Drama Society and Durham Student Theatre respectively.

Writer/Performer: Lucio Gray is a Manchester In-Fringe Theatre Award-nominated writer, performer and musician.

Writer/Performer: Joe Large is a writer/performer who trained with the National Youth Theatre.

Performer: Charlie Diver is one of the leading actors in the University of Manchester Drama Society, having featured prominently in MIFTA winning play Lion Man.

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