Monkhouse is one of four shows on its way to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with the Queen Mary Theatre Company.
We caught up with George Oliver Readshaw to talk about creating the show and the build up to the festival thus far…
If you’re not up at the fringe be sure to reserve a ticket for the preview happening on Friday 5 August at 7pm.
Tell us about Monkhouse the show you’re taking up to the Edinburgh Fringe for 2016? What will an audience experience?
Monkhouse is a one-room-whodunnit-thriller-black-comedy-1960s-period-piece-theatrical-slap-in-the-face. It follows six horrible cockney kids hiding from an unknown gunman in their school gym.
While writing the script and compiling ideas it was incredibly important to me that this was a one hour show squeezed into 45 minutes. Our slot at the Edinburgh Fringe is exactly one hour, and they are very strict, so that includes getting the audience (hopefully in their thousands) seated, getting all the props and set ready after the previous show, and then vice versa. So really we have 45 minutes tops to get a show done. That’s not very long. So it’s vital that the audience can laugh, cry and generally live every moment as much as they can and as quickly as they can. So an audience can expect a super-charged, high tempo assault on their senses. That said, I’m a big fan of the theatrical ‘pause’, so we’ve made time for a few of those too.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned so far in preparing for the Edinburgh fringe?
Research. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Be it promotional material, costume design, voice, lexicon, where one wears one’s trousers, the past is a different country and details are vital. We’ve played fast and loose with a couple of things, but we are really trying to create an authentic 1960s London aesthetic. The world of the play has to be compelling and true as well as sexy and cool, and the research side, as tedious as it can be, is so so important to any piece.
How do you think being in the QMTC helps your future career?
Immeasurably. I’m lucky enough to be continuing my studies at drama school this September and I know I would never be anywhere near that were it not for the opportunities offered by QMTC. Our university has a deservedly well renowned reputation for its drama department, and the plethora of performance styles that you are exposed to here is just phenomenal. I’ve seen my friends doing all sorts on stage, and the talent that lies here at QM is pretty inspiring. I’ve been involved in plays by Terrence Rattigan, Edward Albee, Sondheim, Shakespeare and most importantly some supremely talented writers and directors who are students just like me. This is kind of what it’s about really. Making plays with your mates. I would say that QMTC has put me exactly where I want to be.
Tell us about your time at Queen Mary and how you came to study with us. What have been your highlights so far studying drama at Queen Mary?
Well I am actually an English student but in honesty have spent the vast majority of my university life in the Pinter Studio. Basically all of it. I should pay rent there. But my highlights have been my experiences at the Edinburgh Fringe. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in two really interesting and funny fringe shows, both with fantastic people, all of whom are big friends of mine still. It’s such a great thing that QM offers, you get to take something that you have made and show it to the wider world at the biggest arts festival on the planet. Plus it’s the biggest party on the planet.