Friday, 14 July 2017

The Dramaturgy Curse: Pelican @ Edfringe 2017

The Cat Man Curse
Produced by Pelican
Created and Performed by Sam Grabiner, Jordan Mitchell & Guy Emanuel
Directed by Lucy Moss
Edinburgh Fringe Bedlam Theatre 3-28th August (not 9th, 16th and 23rd) 20:00 £8 (full price) £6 (concession)
The Cat Man Curse, a fast paced, surreal comedy, makes its Edinburgh Festival Fringe premier. TV actor Charles Heron has it all thanks to his career playing hot-shot lawyer, Harvey Hardtruth. However, when an old Hollywood curse turns Heron's life upside down he must join forces with Mark Swift, a real-life solicitor who suspects the curse is not all it seems.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
We’ve been making sketch shows for a while now and we really wanted to make something with a bit more of an overriding narrative.
We watched a lot of Scooby Doo episodes, as well as a bunch of really terrible 70’s law dramas. So in terms of inspiration, it’s been that kind of thing along with a lot of our favourite comedy from over the past few years. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
It probably is. But if you’re looking for the public discussion of ideas… Well, let’s just say that The Cat Man Curse is basically a surreal narrative comedy show. We hope you laugh and we hope you have fun. But we’re trying to tickle your heart more than your brain! 
How did you become interested in making performance?
We all met at university and started making stuff together pretty quickly. Each of us came to Pelican(our company) from quite different performance backgrounds, ranging from film to music to theatre. It’s been really exciting bringing those different experiences together and seeing what kind of thing we make as a group. As a result we think that The Cat Man Curse is a real mix: part physical comedy, part storytelling, part dance show.  

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
It tends to be a mixture of playing around and having a lot of fun in a room together and then repeatedly smashing our heads against an extremely hard and immovable wall. We’ve been lucky enough to develop this show over quite a long period of time so quite a lot of the writing has happened in front of audiences, which is a real pleasure as the audiences are such a fundamental part of The Cat Man Curse

We previewed the show back in January and have been taking it to festivals over the last few months. We really want this to be a show that keeps growing and developing as we take it along. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Yes and No. In some ways we are doing lots of the stuff we usually do: fast paced physical comedy; lots of home-made props and costumes; a kind of organised chaos. In other ways, it’s really different. We are working with a coherent (we hope…) narrative rather than a disparate collection of sketches, and although there is plenty of multi-rolling going on, each of us has a character that we stick to for most of the show. That’s a real first for us and we hope that the result will feel like something between a play and a comedy show. 
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
We want them, first and foremost, to have fun! And we want them to feel included in the whole thing. To feel like they’ve been a part of an hour that is genuinely live and unique and couldn’t be repeated again in the exact same way the next night. 
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

A lot of it is to do with the way we perform. We try and stay open and attentive to the kind of audience that happens to be in each night. But we also write the show with space for moments of improvisation. There are parts of The Cat Man Curse that are left open and flexible and others that are more strict and tight. It’s about walking that tightrope between a crafted show that obeys certain rhythms and a show that feels live and chaotic. We’ll see if it works!

Implicated in a series of bizarre, interconnected crimes, Heron and Swift must work together in this 1970’s noir mystery to unravel a nefarious plot.
Turning the mundane into the incredible, Pelican’s ingenious use of sets and everyday props coupled with their dedication to the absurd and joyful creates worlds this audience can get lost in and occasionally be a part of.
All graduates of the Cambridge Footlights and with training at L’ecole Philippe Gaulier, this trio is experienced in physical theatre and delivering surreal comedy. Sam Grabiner is both a graduate of the Royal Court Theatre Young Writers’ Programme and resident playwright at Papatango Theatre Company. Jordan Mitchell has directed two of Sam’s plays: STIFF! (Winner of the Footlights Harry Porter Prize 2014, judged by Tom Basden) and Amygdala Wonderland (Shortlisted for the Papatango New Writing Prize 2015). Guy Emanuel has a background in music and is the composer for The Cat Man Curse. Director, Lucy Moss was also the Assistant Director on 'Boris - World King' (4* The Stage, 5* Broadway Baby) at Edinburgh Fringe 2016.

Pelican combine intelligent sketch-inspired material with a clownish playful style that all shines through in The Cat Man Curse.

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