Offbeat Theatre recently had a fantastic run of The Frog King – an off-the-wall, magical fairytale coming to our script shop soon! Quick photo of a few characters and a giant frog’s head! Suitable for performance by adults or youth groups. Great fun!
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The new Offbeat Theatre production is based very very loosely on the Frog Prince and we’ve called it The Frog King. Immediately you see the looseness of the story! In fact if you hop over (sorry) to the blog you might find a more detailed synopsis.
This pic is the Frog King’s head in construction (you can see the scale of it by comparing to the mannequin)
Sounds fun doesn’t it!
The Killing of Poe, Offbeat’s latest show, is playing a few venues locally and (if we’re honest) we’d quite like a few more. But, that aside, this has been quite a journey. When I start to write a play I never really know where it might lead. I begin (usually with some idea of the destination), but it always twists and turns and goes to places I didn’t realise were there. So, some of the play emerges as we rehearse, gradually revealing hidden layers and my trusting cast indulge the inevitable changes until we reach the conclusion (always a surprise). It’s a fascinating process, but it requires a certain amount of faith in the process. We always get there. Last year we created ‘The Ghost Hunters’, this year it’s ‘The Killing of Poe’. What is it with me and death, darkness and creepy stuff….
So .. it’s dark. Dark, macabre, intriguing (I picked that up from the reviews) and with a certain amount of humour. I’m glad the audience laugh, otherwise my tragicomedy description on the flyer would look rather silly. I’ve used lots of black paint, a wonderful raven was created by Alison Stobart (company raven maker) and Hugh Farey created a ‘radio thing that looks like a coffin’. Why on earth I imagined this thing on the stage I may never know, but it worked. I liked it. It’s HUGE and commanding and jolly useful for all sorts of Poe-ish moments. Costumes are, well, interesting. You’d laugh if you saw us trying to get the ‘shroud’ dresses sorted in the interval. It’s like some bizarre maypole event with metres of muslin (bit of a spoiler there, sorry).
Anyway .. This is what the reviews have said so far ….
The Killing of Poe brings The Raven back to life!
It’s taken seeing someone else’s creative work to prompt me to post here after too long an absence… Last night I went to The Falcon Mews in Bromyard and saw ‘The Killing of Poe’ written by Barbara Hockley and performed by Offbeat Theatre.
From the moment I read the programme masquerading as ‘Helpful Notes’ I knew we were in for a witty treat. Despite only having a tiny performing space to work in, we were taken inside the vast space of the protagonist’s head – he’s a failing actor – and entertained while the voices within it assumed Shakespearean roles in order to keep the failing actor sane, and alive…
I recognise some of these stories in my own head, but you’ll have to book and see the show to discover them, or I’ll be in danger of sharing spoilers.
Armed with gloom and a raven, Hugh Farey, as a devilish Poe, is both beguiling and macabre. Mark Cox as the actor in whose head we find ourselves is utterly convincing and Ann Smith provides some delicious tongue lashings to anyone who crosses her.
There’s still a chance to see this brave and thought-provoking new play at St Richard’s School, Bromyard, on 16th and 17th February.
‘The Killing of Poe’ has many layers, unflinchingly looks at death and draws on rich metaphors. It has action, pace and its dialogue will have all lovers of ‘the bard’ rifling their brains to match phrases with different plays. Its potential for a professional company on a large thrust stage are endless and exciting… I can see it being a ‘must see’ at The National or the RSC’s Swan Theatre.
As a lover of metaphors it was always going to be a winner with me. Thanks Barbara and team for bringing it to life – or should that be to death?
Liz Darcy Jones from her blog lovingmetaphors.org
Definitely go and see this play!
Voices inside the deteriorating mind of an actor parry words and swords as his career disintegrates into vaudeville.
But this work by Barbara Hockley has humour too, plus great quotes from Shakespeare and Poe, clever costume changes and a wild raven caw.
Original and thought-provoking. Our audience was intrigued.
Acting and directing reached Barbara’s usual high standard, so thanks cast and crew – we enjoyed ‘Poe’ and we’re sure your next audiences at St Richard’s will love it.
“While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
Well, I didn’t take a nap as I was absorbed by the intriguing drama before me. Dark, complex, flashes of humour and professionally played. Boz commanding as ever and Mark Cox completely in character.
Go see – Embrace the darkness…..
Well done, Barbara Hockley – a really interesting piece of new work. Congratulations, cast and crew – intriguing and absorbing. Worth going to St Richard’s to see it, people!
A great night, brilliant actors, great script, receptive audience….. if you missed it still a chance to catch up at St Dix
If you thought a spot of darkness-with-comedy-shakespeare-and-poe might do well in your venue, we really would love to hear from you.
The latest Offbeat show – in Bromyard & Bredenbury (Herefordshire) in Feb.
It’s been a long time in the pipeline (as has a blog post), but everything comes to fruition eventually. The strange play that I started in the summer of last year has emerged and is almost ready to be seen.
This is a brief synopsis ..
A fading actor, reduced to bit parts in variety shows, can only relive his glory days of performing Shakespeare inside his own head, albeit aided by a troupe of talented voices from the past. But even in these private theatrical moments, he finds himself lacking, forgetting and losing interest. The Voices inside his head are losing him and the situation is getting worse. On a chance hearing of an Edgar Allan Poe story being narrated, the Actor is seduced into the gloomy, gothic, macabre and ultimately tragic world that Poe characters inhabit. If the ‘Voices of Shakespeare’ want to survive, they must get rid of Poe and his grey, gloomy, bleak horror stories . But the Narrator of Poe fights back .. and his material is good.
Plus, he has a raven.
Surreal, dark and funny (ish)
I’ll write more soon. Honest I will.
I have a lot to write and ‘Poe’ is a strange beast indeed.
But we all hear voices .. don’t we?
Embrace the darkness .. before it sneaks up on you
Saturday Feb 6th, The Falcon Hotel, Bromyard, 7.30pm
Tuesday 16th & Wednesday 17th Feb, St Richard’s School, Bredenbury, 7.30pm.
TICKETS from our POE PAGE on the website.
We LOVE it all. But we’re not morbid – just curious and imaginative (I like to think). I’ve been updating various bits of info on Offbeat plays and it strikes me as at least one of these ‘Ds’ is a key element is just about everything we write or produce. And we do ‘funny death’ as well – not just ‘death death’. Darkness? Well, darkness is just dark isn’t it. Neither good nor bad, just dark. I wrote The Ghost Hunters as a tale of gothic Victorian ghost-hunting – but it turned into something quite different. It worked its way into other realms, danced around with memory (or lack of), floated around with the idea of dreams and desires and then dipped its big toe into the murky waters of ‘what happens when we die’ (no answers, just questions). It sparked debate. This is good! Not giving answers on a plate (even if I had them), is good. An audience in the bar afterwards discussing what they’ve just seen, trying to make sense of it, adding their own ideas and thoughts. All this is good.
So … I was just thinking that the next show would be Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (Dreams at least), when I had the most curious experience. I experienced a thought that completely thwarted my plans. Damn that thought! I was going to have a bit of a sabbatical – and now it seems, I’m not. The thought that arrived and rooted itself firmly was something like ‘why not do a slightly different version of the twisted, dark and humourous PERILOUS TALES (Dreams, darkness AND Death – all in one) to lighten up those dark winter evenings (I am planning ahead – it’s not imminent). So, I am. Casting is underway and so far I am including the tale of Cedric and Sybil (a rather clingy, fearful pair) and Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost. You see – ghosts again. I can’t seem to help it. If you saw the original you’ll recall it was a series of ‘cautionary tales’ – of a sort. Expect the usual Offbeat lavish costumes and absurd plot (there’s a plot?)
Well, a quick post to introduce the Ghost Hunters Flyer anyway!
You can book this show via the Offbeat site (from Monday September 15th) OR you can pick up a ticket from St Richard’s School, Bredenbury.
Please note: We are using the school as our ‘stage’ but this is an adult show with an adult cast (some more than others …). Kids are welcome though – but not too young please! We are TRYING to be scary…. and deep (at the same time).
More info, pics etc over the next few months.