Sunday, 19 September 2010


‎'Doublecross' has gone much better than dared hope this weekend in Leeds. Both nights had good audiences, but last night the actors got into their stride and there was a lot of laughing and clapping - fortunately from the audience.

The hard work put in by the director, Colin Lewisohn, and the actors was clear. . Hard to select best bits, but some I was really pleased with were Richard Dipple's dapper journalist with his slow verbal seduction of dour legal eagle, played by Hayley Briggs (we all knew he'd get her and would keep pressing those buttons until he got the right ones. And boy, has Richard come on as an actor lately, but then he tells me lately he's been working with someone who worked with Alec Guiness); Hayley's mix of vamp and little girl lost as Sam, the rather dubious 'nurse'; Rachelle Vernelle's touchingly desparate vulnerability as would-be mother, Kay, caught between older husband and the Byronic journo; and finally Asadour Guzelian's moving portrayal of unlikely hero, the local councillor, as he copes with both bemusement at a rampant rabbit and the tragic yet hopefully redemptive revelation at the end of the play. For Michael Yates and I, it was great as writers to see our characters coming to life in this way.

We're now into the final push for the performance at Otley Courthouse on Friday. Bit nervous as we've never done this venue before, but prepared to put it down to experience whatever. Please come anyone who can - whether you up for something different drama-wise (or even if you just quite like the odd scantily-clad actress and a plot that involves handcuffs and gimp mask!)

It's a dark comedy drama with a La Ronde structure, based on the premise that life - like drama - is based on lying. There's always a subtext and the real question is whether trust just gets in the way of seeing it. Otley Courthouse Fri 24th 7.30pm tel 01943 467466 tickets £9/7 conc.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett came to address Script Yorkshire members at Carriageworks, Leeds on Friday (long story but I was sort of instrumental in this happening, and very glad it did). He was fascinating. A 75 yr old with a schoolboy sparkle in his eyes and still rosy cheeks. He began by reading an extract from his writing about his childhood in Lower Wortley, prose with poetic elements in it, which is saying something based on Lower Wortley. (Don't mean it. I'm from Bramley so how can I talk, and besides my Auntie Connie was a lollipop lady on the junction where he used to live.) The passage evoked back-to-back life of 50s pre slum-clearance West Leeds, but not all the bad bits by any means. But the passage dwelt much on the significance of names, showing that writer's fascination with words and what things/people are called - or more importantly chosen to be called.

The main part of the evening was question and answer, ranging wide over topics of interest to writers. I learnt a lot. AB's observations included such as that in some ways censorship had helped 'intensify' drama and its demise meant that 'your armoury decreased'. This seems to touch on the debate that crops up so often now about the usefulness of constraints. (Maybe Aristotle's 4 unities should be revived and we should go back to pre-Lady Chatterley prissiness.) AB explained why art is not a craft, in that in working a craft, you know each time you can produce an item to standard or in a certain form, whereas with art you never know it if will work or get anywhere. (Story of my life, though I suppose that's what makes art exciting as well as such a bitch - you never really know how it will come out.) So many bon mots and tips, perhaps summed up with AB's warning to 'protect your own endeavour'.

Come to think of it, wasn't that Captain Cook's ship, 'The Endeavour'? Another worthy Yorkshireman, who had quite a journey (though not from Lower Wortley).

This week sees me tied up and doublecrossed, as in 'Doublecross', latest ActONE production, co-written with Michael Yates, dark comedy drama with the premise that life - like drama - is based on lying. There's always a subtext; the question is whether trust only serves to get in the way of seeing it. On at Carriageworks this Fri/Sat, then at Otley Courthouse the following Fri. Bit nervous about this one, as it's different, but at least we're trying 'different'.