That’s been a recurring theme in my work, so it was great to be on the other side during my last trip to Stoke, and to be part of the audience as something really interesting unfolded.
Potboiler are a small theatre company, and received a grant from Appetite’s Kitchen fund which supports people to try and test new work in public places. ‘Stories from Pub Corners’ is their new work, a series of confessionals in the style of Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads written by Kat Boon, Gary Abbot and Alex Townley. The stories are the kind of thing you could overhear in a pub.
So the six short monologues were performed in a pub, the performers sitting amongst the audience, hidden in plain sight. I actually produced a similar play, an ‘overheard’, for Buzz Theatre in Worthing. And even though I know how it’s done, it’s still jarring when you find yourself sitting at the same table as an actor.
The stories were simple, universal, but also incredibly personal. The cast of Janie-Lou Morrey, Jamie Robertson and Bennedict Shaw all carried their characters perfectly, and the evening – in true Bennett style – moved the audience from belly laughs to moments of touching poetry.
Of course, this was an early performance and there were wobbles, but that sense of being part of the creation of something, rather than just a passive spectator, made the evening even more special. It’s really good to see Appetite taking a risk on the creation of new work, rather than just commissioning existing pieces. Watch out for more Potboiler performances, and for more good things from Appetite’s Kitchen.