Our Brighton Bites series offers short, witty and slightly tongue-in-cheek insights into the offerings at England’s largest arts festival. Chris Neville-Smithtells us about his show,Waiting For Gandalf, which he will be performing atSweet Waterfront.
How would you describe your show in one sentence?
It’s not very nice. (Sorry, not a terribly cheery introduction to my play. I had the odd person coming last time expecting a light-hearted potted history of Lord of the Rings, and it’s not like that. There are bonus Tolkein references for Ringers though.)
Is this your first visit to Brighton Fringe, if so what interesting tales have you been told about what to expect?
It’s my first visit to Brighton Fringe as a performer, but not my first visit as a punter, because I’ve been every year since 2010. Nor is it my first festival fringe as a performer, as I’ve been doing Buxton Fringe since 2013.
So most of my expectations are based on my own experiences. If I could pick out one thing about what to expect, it’s that something is bound to go wrong that you haven’t thought of – usually, the one thing that you thought couldn’t possibly happen does happen.
How has the show developed on the way to Brighton?
Most of the development happened on the way to Buxton. I first came across this play in 2011 when I was part of Live Theatre Writers’ Group, and I ended up performing this in 2014 when I needed something to keep my hand in at Buxton. There wasn’t actually much I needed to do to develop this – Adrian Marks gifted me with a super script, we both saw eye-to-eye on the character of Kevin and the tone of the unfolding story, so it was easy for me to make the story my own.
Between Buxton and Brighton, we did have quite a discussion on whether to do things differently, but we eventually decided to keep it as it was. The only slight tweak we’ve made is to the beginning of the play, which I look forward to trying on you new unsuspecting souls of Sussex.
How have you been preparing for Brighton Fringe?
The usual way. Getting deluged in paperwork, crapping my pants over how much this is costing, and obsessing over my ticket sales every five minutes.
What do you think sets your show apart from all the other festival offerings?
It features six luscious ladies, and whatever your penchant, zingy, sassy, cute or smoking hot, there’s a Chic BonBon for every- … Oh sorry, I got mixed up with the show going on next door just then. Sorry, no zingy, sassy, cute or smoking hot ladies in mine I’m afraid.
But, hey, hey show features a Lord of the Rings geek banging on Tolkein, which is far more fun than six luscious ladies who- … no, this isn’t working, is it? Not sure I can compete here. Bugger. Ah well, we’re both on for seven days. Plenty of time to see both.
What’s the show that you don’t want to miss at this year’s Brighton Fringe (apart from your own!)?
I always go through the programme each year for my recommendations. I can recommend Something Rotten and 1972: The Future of Sex, and The Tale of Tommy O’Quire and Hysterical, but I’ve seen these already. Out of the other three (Glengarry Glen Ross, Sellotape Sisters and Dancing in the Dark), I think I’ll go for Dancing in the Dark. I’ve made Wired Theatre an annual fixture in Brighton, and while their gambles don’t always work out, they are one of the most innovative masters of site-specific theatre out there.
My full list of fringe recommendations is here if you’re interested!
If your show was a flavour of Brighton Rock, what would it be?
Oh, how about a stick of rock that looks deceptively sweet on the outside but bitter in the middle? (Or does that sound too pretentious?)
Waiting For Gandalf takes place at The Brighton Fringe – 23-29 May 2016
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