Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Red Dramaturgy: Olly Jackson @ Edfringe 2017

An hour-long farce set in a crumbling old stereotype

Herr Falkenstein is broke. Desperately broke. All he has left in the world after his bitter divorce is his maid, his cat and a
12,000-acre estate. But he’s going to re-establish himself as a millionaire by stealing the most precious gem known to man: The Red Emerald. 

Due to the fact that no-one can quite decide whether the stone is green or red, it has become a priceless artefact, with scientists and bored philosophers willing to pay anything for it.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I’ve wanted to write a farce for a long time, but really wanted to see one that was not only silly and laugh-out-loud, but also clever and witty in the language it used. 

The Red Emerald is the result: taking some of the most over-used elements of farce and showing the audience how silly they are, whilst also giving them a good laugh and story along the way.

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

Very much so, and arguably more so than more conventional discussions on news programmes etc. People engage more with a story and with the characters and so the message or the idea can be delivered far more subtly and effectively. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I have loved theatre ever since university - the joy of changing people’s attitudes while making them laugh is wonderful.

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

I find the best shows involve collaboration; the writer, director, and cast all coming together to shape the eventual story. 

Shows that avoid this can be very appealing, but sometimes don’t appeal to as wide an audience as they could.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes and no. I nearly always write comedy, but this is the first piece of extended theatre I have written. My background is in sketch comedy, and punchy jokes, and hopefully merging my love of stories with said jokes can result in a fun piece of comedy theatre.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I’d love people to leave the theatre having had their day brightened. The show is funny but also just plain fun; the characters are engaging and wonderfully portrayed by our cast, so hopefully it is a nice hour of escapism for people.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We’re staging the show in a lovely theatre at theSpace, which gives us and the audience the luxury of seeing a more theatrical comedy show, rather than the usual back-of-the-pub feel which some venues at the Fringe engender. 

Not that those don’t have their merits - some of my favourite shows last year had that vibe - but for this show I wanted the audience to experience comedy theatre rather than just comedy.
With the help of his maid Chloe, Herr Falkenstein hatches a plan to steal the emerald on the night of his grand party. But they're not the only ones who could do with a billion-pound gemstone… 

Reginald Fire, renowned idiot and pyrophobe, is also attending the party and has high hopes for his new website:

However, his attempts to become a dotcom millionaire have been somewhat hampered by his decision to make the website not for profit, and so he has decided to turn to Herr Falkenstein to ask for some of his now non-existent wealth. 

Also present is Lara Crufts, the wife of Reginald, but not for long. She has been having a secret affair with Chloe the maid, and she plans tonight to elope with her beloved, and she has banned
her husband from even mentioning their marriage.

The discovery of the emerald throws all these carefully-laid plans into chaos. What follows is an evening of lies, misunderstandings and cats. 

The Red Emerald is a brand-new spin on the genre, blending elements of fast-paced witty comedy with original slapstick farce. It was devised and written by Olly Jackson, the creator of last year’s A Sketchy History, which enjoyed sell-out shows in Oxford, Warwick, London and at EdFringe 2016.

Time/Date: 12:10pm, 14th-19th August; 5:50pm, 21st-26th August

Venue: theSpace@Niddry St (Venue 9), EH1 1TH


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