Archives For comedy play

May Contain Nuts!

Barbara —  April 25, 2016 — Leave a comment


The very very silly ‘May Contain Nuts!’ gets another outing on Saturday 30th April (see poster)
This is what it says about Nuts on our Offbeat Plays site

Involves: An awful lot of silliness, dressing up as pirates, mysterious old ladies, a few characters from Romeo & Juliet, sword fighting, walking the plank, vampires, talking statues …. and on ….. Originally written for outdoor festival performances, but can be performed anywhere you like. Requires lots of crazy imagination to add to the innate daftness of the story.
Plot: What plot? Oh, ok … our hero, Henry, is trying to write a story. Actually, he has a rather fertile mind. It’s just that despite his best efforts to stay with safe, mundane story-lines, where he can save reasonably attractive girls from domestic crises, he has absolutely no control over it at all. In fact Henry’s imagination runs away with him. Together, and in the company of a few friendly pirates, they go on a perilous mission to find treasure. And then there is Jane, who refuses to be enslaved in the kitchen of Henry’s mind any longer, and Doris, eager to be chased by more runaway wheelie bins. As I said, what plot?
Set: Anything really. Needs to be versatile. Lots of props, hats, big noses & fake facial hair is good.

We had so much fun when we originally created this piece. In fact we had so much fun we did it all over again with a new cast a few years back. Pirates, poets with big noses, sword fights, spiffing adventures, vampires, creepy forests, mysterious old ladies, moving statues … but mostly pirates. So .. much .. fun.


Last night SPYS (Sodbury Players Youth Section) won the Best Youth award for their production of Rob Hockley’s “Darkness in the night” at the Bristol One-act drama festival!!!!
Congratulations from all at OffbeatTheatre – especially a delighted playwright. We’re proud and delighted to have been a part of what must have been a fab production!
Roll on the next round ….



Spy School is Here!

Barbara —  June 3, 2014 — 2 Comments

Spy School is a new one act BIG musical show for 9 – 12 year olds that has been penned by myself with music composed by Greg Swinford. I’ve just started rehearsing it with a group of Year 6 children for their Leavers Gala in July. We’re having fun ….
So, characters?
Ok, you asked.
It tells the story of the rather exciting first morning a group of new recruits experience on their first day at ‘Spy School. They meet the boss, (Code Name ‘Father Christmas’), Number 2, (Code Name ‘Easter Bunny’), the mysterious tea & snacks person ‘Snax’ and the 6 departments and their agents;
Department of Geeky Gadgets: Agents Gizmo, Gubbins and Gimmick
Department of Cool Posing: Agents Prairie Dog, Penguin and Peacock
Department of Sneaking-like-a-Sheep: Agents Prowls-like-a-Pigeon, Creeps-like-a-Crab, and Lurks-like-a-Lizard
Department of Cunning Disguises: Agents Garbo, Wiglet and Fancy
Department for the Prevention of Alien Species Taking of the World: Agents Eeep, Burrp and Zigzig
Department of The Cookie Crumbles at Noon: Agents The Jelly has Set, The Toast has Landed and The Teapot is in the Nest

So .. you can probably see just how very serious this show is.

Spy School is AVAILABLE for everyone and comes with backing tracks so you don’t need to worry about creating the music. We’ll post some music soon so you can have a listen and enjoy the silly lyrics with the fabulous music.
The plot is based on the overexcited Rookies (Code Names Bogbean, Foxglove and Milkweed – you’ll see why) who offer to go on any mission at all to prove just how good they are. They are challenged to find the ‘Seventh Department’ by noon.

Songs include ‘SPIES’ the Bondesque opening/closing number
PIE IN THE SKY – training exercise song for the Rookies to totally fail to get the hang of
IN TOO DEEP – The Rookies lowest moment when they realise they overstepped the mark
SNAX RAP – the enigmatic Snax tries to give the Rookies a few clues
GUARDING THE CLUES – The Agents attempt to make the mission even more difficult by not letting the Rookies get to the clues

Contact us if you’re interested. Details will be available on the Offbeat Main site soon!


A new one act comedy for teenagers by Rob Hockley ‘War and Cake’ has just been awarded HIGHLY COMMENDED in the Trinity College International Playwriting Competition.

Well done Rob! A richly deserved award and we look forward to seeing many performances of this wonderfully funny comedy. More info to come!

Snippets from the Competition Report:
“..this play is hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every sentence. Genuinely laugh out loud funny.”
“This is a quick, imaginative and at times surreal comedy”
“The dialogue is quick, witty and often fantastically unexpected”
“A fantastic play which has had me laughing each time I read”

We’ll let you know exactly where you can buy the play when Trinity have published it.

I must modulate my Bunsen burner

Favourite lines from War and Cake by Rob Hockley

Charging on with Maskerade

Barbara —  October 9, 2013 — Leave a comment
Getting some action going

Getting some action going

Actually, we got back to rehearsals a month ago but my blogging went out the window. Blogging block? Who knows… anyway, back to it and rehearsals are good. Really, for a show of this size, magnitude, girth and weight I would want a lot longer than we have. But .. we’re on in December so there’s no time to worry about it.

This is why I’m ‘encouraging’ the cast to GET THEIR BOOKS DOWN asap. It seems too soon, but it isn’t. The important thing is to work backwards from performance, not forwards from the safety of the cosy comfort zone of early rehearsals where performances seem such a long way off that actually learning anything at all seems completely unnecessary, (a long sentence I know – I did it on purpose .. read quicker and then you won’t run out of breath). Continue Reading…

Our maskerade video presenters

Our ‘making of’ video presenters .. and very sensible they are too. Pic by Tom Flathers

Hooray! We all survived the audition process swiftly followed by casting and, to my delight, we have a company of lovely folk who are all game for whatever part/s they are given! I don’t think I’ve ever been to this strange place before. Even the girl (who I’m sure would have preferred a glamourous role) I cast as the enormous male opera singer was excited by the prospect of a serious acting challenge in a fatsuit. Result! While I was auditioning the actors one or two at a time Tom and the rest of the company were creating videos and havoc in the foyer. So we had this lovely atmosphere of excitement and mayhem in one place and focus and concentration in another. There was a lot of singing going on as well. No idea about that – obviously it was some sort of vocal warm up for the impending audition. Ummm … maybe not. Anyway, is was a very happy place to be.

Casting wasn’t easy, but it never is when your characters are actually supposed to be many years older than your actors (Nanny Ogg is in her 70s in theory) AND you need to cast girls as male characters because you don’t have enough lads (usually the way). Because the group is only 16 strong and the characters outnumber them significantly, only 9 pople get to play just one role. The rest play 2 or 3 different characters. But we have a cast that we’re all happy with and next week we get to the First Awkard Read-Through stage. Can’t wait.

By the way, whilst auditioning my good friend Boz read in all sorts of parts and he really does make an excellent Granny Weatherwax .. and Nanny Ogg … very witchy indeed. So tempting ….

Here's hoping they won't hold back at audition (although Boz, pictured here, is actually the lighting designer - I like my team to be versatile!)

Here’s hoping they won’t hold back at audition (although Boz, pictured here, is actually the lighting designer on this occasion – I do like my team to be versatile!)

I’ve been planning this for months now (as you would expect from the Offbeat Directing Series of blogs on this site!!) Now up to the dreaded audition bit (see the blog post)! I don’t really like auditions. I find that nearly all the group will audition for the same parts, so in the last few weeks I’ve been trying to encourage a bit of diversity. I hope I’ve succeeded. The group is 16 strong and there are many, many more parts than that … so, multiroling is key. It took me AGES to work out which characters can be played by an actor also playing another part. We’ll see if it works!

At the same time as I’m auditioning on stage Tom (photographer) will be working on his video diaries and, no doubt, taking a few groovy pics! So … I’ll update when everyone has auditioned and been cast. Not expecting anyone to get terribly upset, but they can’t ALL play Agnes Nitt! And why is no one auditioning for the lovely part of the Opera tenor of gargantuan proportions (fatsuit anyone?) Greebo the cat-who-turns-human-sometimes will be a challenge (although he appears to look a bit like a Johnny Depp style pirate – that would work). The casting of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg is also a big challenge and (apart from other important considerations – obviously) I’m really hoping not to have to make new costumes (we did Wyrd sisters some years back). But .. if required costumes are always fun to make!

So … here goes! Fingers crossed for a good, clean audition. No biting, scratching or hysterical outbursts please… Cover me ..I’m going in….

I’m just starting to work on Terry Pratchett’s ‘Maskerade’ and photographer Tom Flathers has decided to make video diaries of the process as well as taking his usual great photos! This one of me answering Tom’s questions on a bare stage with some groovy lighting…. Purple and orange go so well together..

Oddly (but not unusual in films) Part 1 is being filmed tomorrow!


Things coming up soon:
More directing posts
More games
A new series of posts starting in the next few days on my new show, Terry Pratchett’s ‘Maskerade’, which is about to go to audition. Really looking forward to this and delighted to be working with the local youth theatre again.