Category: 2. First Draft (Jan 2012)

04
Feb

News February 2012

We’ve found another review for First Draft by Bob Cornwell at crimetime.co.uk.

“Wildehouse, a farcical Jeeves/Wooster parody given a venal 21st century makeover, had its Wooster equivalent Samuel Wildehouse (played by an appropriately OTT Dominic Rye) and his smoothly sinister manservant Reinhart (Canavan Connolly), having dealt with the traditional formidable aunt with some finality, forced to defend their bachelor establishment against hordes of violent revolutionaries. Effectively performed and sharply written (by Robin Johnson), the able direction by Alex Mack kept the whole piece nicely on the boil.

Foster’s Vigilante, the evening’s opening item, was a thought-provoking two-hander debating the nature of modern justice. Inspired by an incident connected with Moors murderer Ian Brady, the play, directed by Sam Snape, is a confrontation between a convicted killer and the desperately grieving husband/father of two of his victims. Colin Jonathan Appleby embodied the banality of evil as the killer, wrong-footing a distraught and bewildered Matthew Jure as the man, through revenge, seeking to give what remains of his life some shape or meaning. The ‘resolution’ of the drama was sudden, shocking – and as ‘noir’, in the best sense of the word, as they come.”

 

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02
Feb

REVIEW: ‘Now, it’s… Noir Theatre!’


John Foster and Noir Theatre (First Draft at the Charing Cross Theatre, 22 January 2012)

“There is film noir, noir on TV, every kind of literary noir you care to name,” John Foster once remarked. “But where is noir in the theatre?” It’s a pertinent observation from a man with a long career in TV drama, one that includes scripts for Z-Cars, Softly Softly and The Bill, not to mention a BAFTA award for his BBC Omnibus programme on Raymond Chandler. Crime fiction in the theatre often seems confined to Agatha Christie adaptations and murder mystery evenings at the local arts centre. It is a situation that Foster, over the last few years, has been trying to remedy, alongside his busy life as a lecturer in screenwriting at Bournemouth University’s Media School (and elsewhere), .

Vigilante, his latest effort, self-contained but part of a work in progress, premiered last week at the small but lively Charing Cross Theatre underneath the eponymous station. The piece was included in First Draft, a programme of new writing organised by A Friend of a Friend, a new theatre venture run by Frank Osborne and Susanna Narvaez.

Like so much of this type of hardly funded theatre, sets are minimal or non-existent, throwing even greater emphasis on writing, staging, and performance. It says much for the general level of interest throughout the evening that longueurs were few and far between.

Two items particularly stood out. Wildehouse, a farcical Jeeves/Wooster parody given a venal 21st century makeover, had its Wooster equivalent Samuel Wildehouse (played by an appropriately OTT Dominic Rye) and his smoothly sinister manservant Reinhart (Canavan Connolly), having dealt with the traditional formidable aunt with some finality, forced to defend their bachelor establishment against hordes of violent revolutionaries. Effectively performed and sharply written (by Robin Johnson), the able direction by Alex Mack kept the whole piece nicely on the boil.

Foster’s Vigilante, the evening’s opening item, was a thought-provoking two-hander debating the nature of modern justice. Inspired by an incident connected with Moors murderer Ian Brady, the play, directed by Sam Snape, is a confrontation between a convicted killer and the desperately grieving husband/father of two of his victims. Colin Jonathan Appleby embodied the banality of evil as the killer, wrong-footing a distraught and bewildered Matthew Jure as the man, through revenge, seeking to give what remains of his life some shape or meaning. The ‘resolution’ of the drama was sudden, shocking – and as ‘noir’, in the best sense of the word, as they come.

Vigilante is the latest from John Foster’s Doppelganger production company. Previous work includes Little Boy, dealing with Major Claude Eatherley, the American who gave the all-clear for the bombing of Hiroshima, and which was staged in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2008 as The Murder Monologues, in a double bill with Sheila West’s Chocolate Cake. Other recent work includes Five Go Killing and The Murder Wife. Forthcoming is Chummy, another ‘noir’, along with Death of a Model Citizen, Before Turning the Gun on Myself, and, a new departure, Hap, “a dark comedy”.

If John Foster has anything to do with it, noir theatre is on its way. Watch this space…

by Bob Cornwell

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31
Jan

News January 2012

A Friend of a Friend is very excited to announce at we have started work on our next show and are on the lookout for script submissions. If you are interested in taking part, dust off your lined notepad and start writing now, or have a look through your old work.
The deadline for scripts is MIDNIGHT ON SUNDAY 15TH APRIL 2012.

If you have a comedy act that you would like to take part in the next show, let us know by TUESDAY 1ST MAY 2012.

For full details on how to apply have a look at the Take Part page for our July 2012 performance.

Following the success of First Draft on January 22nd, we’ve had two reviews from Remote Goat. There are some sensible criticisms and some marvellous words of praise, but what did you think? Let us know on twitter @FOAF_Theatre and Facebook, where you can also see what happened when the girls from FunBags were put in charge of a camera backstage during the show.

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28
Jan

REVIEW: ‘Cheap night and challenging theatre’

This new company, A Friend of a Friend (FOAF), has been established to provide writers, not specifically new ones or young ones, with an opportunity to have their works performed in this beautiful theatre just off the main West End beat.

As “First Draft” is the first attempt to piece together a show and fill this 275 seat venue the eclectic range of subjects on offer here deserves to be applauded. Instead of just plundering the recent graduates of writing courses they have managed to find some real and proven talent here.

Of the six pieces here the ones that left the greatest impression on both me and my friends were Robin Johnson’s Wildhouse with a beautifully paired cast of Dominic Rye and Canavan Connolly, in this gentle and delightful satire of an Edwardian comedy, Still I See My Baby by the prolific and obviously skilled wordsmith DB Horrigan and the opening to the entire show, Vigilante by John Foster.

We did turn to each other and think that maybe the entire evening would be as challenging as Vigilante was and it did seem odd to us that both of the really dramatic pieces were back to back at the start of the show when the audience might have appreciated a little gentle laughter to let them settle in before hitting them where it hurts with this brilliantly observed and emotionally challenging piece about justice, humanity and nobility and how it can be found in the most unlikely of places.

There are no program notes for Foster but with a bit of digging it is easy to see why Vigilante, which could be just two people screaming at each other but is far far more than that, is so engaging. He has a long and illustrious writing career that started with Z Cars in 1962. He most certainly knows his way around the power plays between opposites.

His writing is obviously aided by the fact that he and the director, Sam Snape, managed to find a cast strong enough to play these roles brilliantly. The cast of Colin Jonathan Appleby as Richard Maidment, and Matthew Jure as Adam Shaw, were the dramatic highlight of the show.

For me Appleby had the slight edge and I would describe his performance as nothing short of breath taking but that is to take nothing away from the performance of Jure which, if he had been paired with an actor who was good and not great he would have stolen the show.

The evening was rounded off by a performance from The Fun Bags a female comedy group who have obviously spent time honing their skills and creating a laugh out loud collection of creations for our entertainment.

We would happily see Fun Bags again. And we hope that Still I See My Baby and Vigilante are expanded into full length plays and we get to see them too. They all deserve to be seen and audiences deserve to see them.”

By Jon Appleton

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28
Jan

First Draft

Were you at First Draft last Sunday? We thought it was a huge success, and now A Friend of a Friend is working towards the next show. Get in touch and let us know what you thought or if you’d like to take part…. watch this space to see when the next show will be!

Twitter: @FOAF_Theatre

Facebook: A Friend of a Friend Theatre

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