Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Murderous Dramaturgy: Intrepid Fools @ Edfringe 2017

‘The Murderous Philanthropist of Croydon Town’ 

Join Intrepid Fools on a daring adventure of mystery, music and mayhem. The year is 1889 and there's more to Croydon than the average fete-goer would suspect. 

18:15 (19:00), 
theSpace@surgeonshall (venue 53) Nicolson Street, 14th-19th August

What was the inspiration for this performance?

As a company we’re completely in love with the Gothic genre and the often absurd tropes of Victorian literature in general, it seemed like a very fun starting point for a show. Especially at the moment with shows like Sherlock, Ripper Street and a new Dracula in the pipeline, the genre felt like ripe pickings for a parody. 

We didn’t particularly intend for the show to be about misogyny and why we believe powerful men over the women they hurt but the current climate crept in (as it always does) and it soon because impossible to ignore that just because this was a comedy, a musical comedy at that, didn’t mean we couldn’t explore some bigger issues. 

There really was a crimewave in 1889 of husbands killing their wives and children and the police largely ignored it. We like to think we’re above that now but there are still men in the public eye who continue to have careers and be defended by their industries, despite multitudes of women coming forward with accusations of abuse. 

Satirising our current state of affairs through the idiosyncrasies of the past has definitely become our inspiration, we just ended up there by a slightly roundabout route.

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

Definitely. I think the theatre will always be one of the best places for sharing and dissecting ideas, because of the inherent ephemerality and the unique experience of sharing a moment in time with strangers that will never be repeated, it puts everyone on an equal footing by its very nature. Also, the experience of sharing that moment in time always creates a higher level of empathy and human understanding than you get from any other medium, say TV or film. 

However, I do think that we have to be careful in theatre spaces that we’re not drowning out dissonant voices, that we have a diversity of opinions as well as stories, otherwise we’re just talking to our friends about things we all agree with. I don’t necessarily want to argue with anyone about the work I make, but I would be happy to if it meant I changed someones ideas. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

We all met at a pretty brilliant school, Hills Road Sixth Form, Cambridge. It’s a real testament to the power of good teachers, of giving kids space to breathe and make mistakes and create their work. The department has formed over a dozen professional companies, and set hundreds of students off to further training. 

We’ve been lucky enough to keep receiving support from them since graduating in 2015, which has allowed us to rehearse and preview this show. Although I can’t say this is where our interest in performing came from (that’s just a desire for attention mostly), it’s definitely where our interest in making performance came from, as well as the belief we could actually do it. 

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

We knew we wanted to work in the world of Victorian Gothic and we started off with a couple of characters we knew we wanted, Quincy and Isabella, and then built on the story using improvisations with specific rules - i.e. one of us only knows half the backstory and has to grasp it over the scene, one of us can only say one word or one of us is really drunk. 

We see where these go, decide if we like anything or if it’s all useless, change a couple of the rules or settings and start again. Over a couple of hours we build up an idea of where the scene will go and then we’ll go away and write up a version. This version will be tweaked and changed as we rehearse, five people are always funnier than one, but we usually stick to the general structure. 

Our brilliant MD also does the same for songs, he’ll play us a bit, mess around with lyrics, see how it fits into the scene and then usually rewrites it a few times until he’s happy. It’s a very collaborative process that depends on mutual trust and an absence of ego, it’s also a lot of fun and doesn’t really feel like work (most of the time.)

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our debut show so, maybe? Four of our were in a show at the Fringe in 2015 with Babolin Theatre (The Frantic Canticles of Little Brother Fish, Outstanding Show from Fringe Review), which we learnt a lot from and was fairly similar in energy and style, though this show is a little darker.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope the audience have a lot of laughs, I hope they let us pull them into our ridiculous universe for 45 minutes and forget about the outside world, I hope they’re humming the songs for a while (but not long enough to be irritating) and I hope they have a little think about our story and the ways it’s important now. Mostly I hope they have a giggle though. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We just made a show that we would laugh at, we invited lots of friends into the rehearsal room to see how jokes were landing and the feedback from our two previews (Robinson Theatre and Fusion Theatre Festival) was absolutely invaluable. We’ve also got a nice range of music styles, there’s something for everyone (unless your thing is hardcore rave, there’s not much of that.) 

Our universe is definitely absurd and parodied to high heaven but we’ve got characters to root for and to hate, so hopefully you can still get happily get lost in it with them as your guide.

A brand new comedy musical, ‘The Murderous Philanthropist of Croydon Town’ is a witty, loving pastiche of our favourite Victorian novels, drawing inspiration from Jekyll and Hyde through Dickens to Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes, to create a lively, fresh, farcical show. Combining clowning with charming original songs and a cuttingly sharp script, Intrepid Fools welcome you into their bizarre and wonderful world. 

Isabella is all set to marry the most handsome, generous gentleman in all of Croydon Town - but something isn’t quite right with the serial widow Q. Q. Quincy (Esquire.) 

With the help of Jackson and Johnson, possibly a poet, possibly an admiral, definitely drunk, Isabella sets off on a journey that will take her far away from the familiar streets of home and reveal a dark secret at the heart of idyllic Croydon. 

This is Intrepid Fools debut show and following its success at Fusion Theatre Festival they are excited to bring it to Edinburgh. They met whilst at Hills’ Road Sixth Form College and tested their feet in the Fringe waters as company members of the award winning, ‘The Frantic Canticles of Little Brother Fish’, with Babolin Theatre (2015.) 

Since then they have been developing as performers and devisers, working professionally and training at university. They aim to create work that deals with epic stories in irreverent ways, to provide their audience with a new world to dive into and new characters to fall in love with, as well as lots of laughs along the way. 

‘Sharp, brave and charmingly funny comedy-musical by a very exciting new young company’ – Finn Morrell, Artistic Director, Temper Theatre

Company Information Cast Isabella: Flora Wilson Brown Quincy: John Chisham Jackson and Johnson: Becca King Narrator: Bethan Lahive Piano man: Alastair McNamara Creatives Producer: Becca King MD: Alastair McNamara Lighting Technician: Harry Tennison 

Listings Information theSpace@surgeonshall (venue 53) Nicolson Street, EH8 9DW 14th-19th August, 18:15 (19:00) £8 (£6 conc) Run time 45 minutes | Suitable for ages 12+

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