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Mon 29 Oct 2012
Anyone who sometimes wonders if plays don’t go on a bit might be tempted by a new production of two dark comedies in the Studio at York Theatre Royal.
The first of these one-act plays lasts for a little more than an hour, while the second clocks in at 40 minutes.
End Of Desire, the opening play, is by the Irish writer David Ireland, while Escaping Alice is by Matthew Pegg. Both are new plays which concern modern relationships. The first deals with beginnings, while the second considers how matters end.
The two plays are being directed by Katie Posner and Juliet Forster, associate directors respectively of Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal.
“We wanted to work together for a while,” says Juliet.
It was, the two women say, just a case of finding the right project, and then a slot came up in the Studio schedule at the Theatre Royal.
Both have in the past directed what might seem like quiet intense, serious pieces, such as Blue/Orange for Juliet and Blackbird for Katie, so they wanted to try comedies for a change, although some of the darkness remains. The chosen plays, says Katie, have “enjoyable depth and are dark comedies with quite a lot of swearing”, so an ‘adult content’ note is attached.
The tricky part was finding two plays which worked together.
Once End Of Desire had been chosen, the two directors then had to find a matching piece.
“We read some really good plays but they just didn’t work together,” says Katie. Then Juliet remembered a short play she had been sent by East Midlands writer Pegg. With extra work, this became Escaping Alice.
Ireland’s play concerns two mismatched strangers – she works in Tesco, he’s an internationally known poet – who meet online; they are culturally mismatched but united in a desire for intimacy.
Pegg’s play concerns Simon and Alice. They appear to be a loving couple, but their relationship is not all it seems. “When you are in a relationship, how much do you really know the other person?” says Juliet. “And what is really the truth?”
Katie was struck by Ireland’s play for what might seem an unlikely reason. “David Ireland writes brilliant plays and he’s really big in Ireland,” she says. “But when I read it I thought, ‘Wow, there’s a giant mouse in it’.”
What, a literal giant mouse? “Yes,” says Katie.
One difficulty the two directors have in discussing the plays is that they do not wish to give too much away.
“I don’t want to say too much because if you start saying too much about the storyline, it will take away the lovely surprise in each play,” says Juliet.
Both are, however, happy to say that the plays add up to a funny night out that explores the workings of contemporary relationships.
Each play is a two-hander featuring the same two actors: Sarah Applewood and Jack Ashton, who can be seen in the main house production of The Guinea Pig Club. Sarah is playing the mysterious 1940s songstress Frances Day, while Jack is RAF pilot Hugh Lockhart.
With David Ireland’s plays being set in Northern Ireland, the two actors have to learn Belfast accents. So when it came to Escaping Alice, Juliet thought she would be kind. “I am letting them do it in their own voices,” she says.
Read the article on The Press website. Written by Julian Cole.