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September 2014

Interview #2: Writer/performer Richard Marsh talks about Wingman

Wingman 067, Ed Fringe 2014, courtesy Robert Workman
Richard Marsh and Jerome Wright photo by Robert Workman

Last week I saw two different pieces by writer/performers who used poetry. I had some questions about the plays and their style which I got a chance to ask. Yesterday I published Andrew Maddock's answers about The Me Plays and today it is Richard Marsh's turn whose piece Wingman is currently playing at the Soho Theatre.

1. Describe your play in a Tweet (140 characters)
Mum’s dead. Annoyingly, dad’s not. This comic drama mixes poetry & prose to remind us: no matter how bad life is, family can make it worse.
2. How much of the story is autobiographical and where else did the inspiration come from?
I prefer to let the audience make up their own minds, but I’ll happily discuss it over a pint after the show.
3. What are the challenges of using verse and what do you think it adds over prose?
Very simply, verse is a lot more time-consuming to write. For me, writing poetry involves digging down to the exact thought you or the character are trying to express, then finding a way to express that which rhymes, has a rhythm, or a certain wonder to the words. Or all three. And that you haven’t heard before, and that moves or amuses or opens up something you hadn’t previously known but seems obvious now the words have brought you to it.

Of course, that’s quite hard. Both to do well, and to do at all. So if you come to rewrite (as I occasionally will) that is a lot of work to go back and redo.

It’s very labour-intensive, but when a writer does it well, it can be marvelous.

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Interview: Writer/performer Andrew Maddock talks about The Me Plays

Andrew Maddock in The Me Plays 4 (c) Hannah Ellis Photography
Andrew Maddock in The Me Plays, photo by Hannah Ellis

Andrew Maddock is currently performing his self-penned The Me Plays at the Old Red Lion Theatre. It is part prose part poetry and draws on personal experience. I put five questions to him and he kindly answered:

1. Describe your play in a Tweet (140 characters)
One mans poetic journey into the human condition #YOLO

2. How much of the story is autobiographical and where else did the inspiration come from?
Everything in the play has been drawn from own experiences if that be a real situation or even a feeling or opinion. The stories are 'Me's' journey and it was created that way so I could safely explore those elements of my past and perform them truthfully.

I would say the seed for the play began hearing a group of young people I worked with as part of Generation Arts describing a video they had seen on the internet, it made me judge them, but then go back into my own adolescence. As we grow older I feel we judge younger people, but you realise they are just products, as we all were, of the world around them. So I wanted to explore how we are all shaped by that.

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Review: Wingman, Soho Theatre

Wingman 006, Ed Fringe 2014, courtesy Robert Workman
Jerome Wright and Richard Marsh in Wingman. Photo Robert Workman

Plays often resonate with your own experiences but occassionally they can get so close as to touch a raw nerve. This was the case with Richard Marsh's Wingman and as a result it moved me in quite a profound way.

In Wingman, Richard (Richard Marsh, naturally) is caring for his terminally ill mother when his estranged father Len (Jerome Wright) decides to make an unwelcome appearance. It was a scarily and emotionally familiar scenerio.

Marsh's writing brilliantly draws out the humour turning the tragedy into something that is naturally farcical - families just have that effect on us all if we can take a step back and observe. It is funny but while everyone else was laughing I was crying. It was all a bit too recent to laugh about, just yet.

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Review: The Me Plays, Old Red Lion Theatre

Andrew Maddock in The Me Plays 2 (c) Hannah Ellis Photography
Andrew Maddock in The Me Plays Photo: Hannah Ellis Photography

Facets of everyday modern life are laid bare in a double bill of monologues written and performed by Andrew Maddock. The style is almost a poetic homage to laughable ordinariness and everyman tragedy.

In the first, Junkie, Maddock flits between childhood recollection and adulthood. As a young boy, pre-internet pornographic magazines are a voyage of discovery that seem so innocent in comparison to what is on offer online today. Likewise flirtation was done face to face whereas the man messages through dating app Tinder and agonises over whether to leave a kiss or not. 

As he gets ready for his date there are observations about fashion and encounters with 'youths' in Top Man. The tragedy and irony of the tale comes from the fact that technology is supposed to have opened up the world, made it easier to socialise and yet ultimately it provides our man with a security blanket underneath which it is easy to hide.

The second piece, Hi Life, follows a similar style flitting back and forth between childhood and adulthood touches on faith, death and education. A bizarre combination when you see it written down but the three all dovetail as the grief-fuelled teen rebels against a restrictive education system and subsequently gets sent to 'Jesus camp'.

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