Ross and Rachel


One of the most affecting pieces I saw at the Hotbed festival yesterday was James Fritz’s play Ross and Rachel - a one-hander that couldn’t exactly be described as a monologue as it had multiple characters, all performed continuously by actor Molly Vevers; part anecdote, part stream of consciousness. The play itself dealt with themes of love, death and marriage – at times funny, at times cynical, in places, incredibly dark. It was masterfully written, masterfully acted and lingered in my mind long after the lights had gone down. 

Joe Waters I Menagerie Volunteer

A blog About Flog

A Blog About Flog

Another performance I’ve seen at Hotbed today is Flog – a darkly comic piece by Josie Dale Jones (who has been creating it as part of the Menagerie Young Writer's Scheme) dealing with a certain brand of Silicon Valley techno-idealism that is beginning to gain sway in the world – the idea that technology can enhance our bodies and minds, make us immortal, make us happier, augment our brains etc. The piece explores the ludicrous and more than slightly sinister element of this idea through the lens of capitalist idea-mongering that we see all the time in the world around us, revealing unpleasant truths about the characters, ourselves and the human isolationist concept of making our own existences bespoke and effort free, without any need for thinking and how dangerous and, frankly, undesirable this can be!

Joe Waters I Menagerie Volunteer

Volunteering and Plays!

Volunteering and Plays!

Only three or so hours into volunteering at the Hotbed Festival, in between various trips to Sainsbury’s to fetch sweets and various pastry related items to put out in the foyer, I have already seen two interesting, thought-provoking and , when they wanted to be, humorous pieces of new writing.

The first was You, Me and The Spanish Civil War, a monologue by Marina Pallares-Elias telling the true story of her father who was leader of the Spanish communist party in the early 70s. His story reflects the wider political events that were occurring at that time, in Spain, during the final days of Franco’s rule, shedding light on an area of history that is relatively unknown to most of the world. Like many significant historical events, while a lot has been written about the Spanish Civil War, relatively little has dealt with the 40 years of Fascist dictatorship that followed and the tensions that still exist today (a reason that, while this piece has been making its way round various living rooms in Cambridge, it has not yet been performed in Spain). The piece itself served to highlight the personal stories within this period which still remain relatively untold and, hopefully, now, through the ongoing development and dissemination of this performance, will gain a new audience, one it certainly deserves.

Joe Waters I Menagerie Volunteer

Days Before Everything

Days Before Everything...

As with every verbatim play, whose characters are still alive, we have been exploring the gap between documentary and fiction.  'The Summer Before Everything' is a play with a narrative created by the juxtaposition of 3 individual stories.  The real-life characters were interviewed separately, in different cities, at various times of the year.  In our production, their stage equivalents appear together, talk a different language, and even sometimes play other characters - we are about as far away as we can get from the interviews that spawned this fascinating play.  Anchored as we are by the playwrights' connections to the real-life characters, and an obligation to reproduce the exact words spoken, we strive to create a space for the imagination to reign supreme. 

In rehearsals for 'The Summer Before Everything' with Director PATRICK MORRIS

Park Benches, Lemons and an Olivier Nominee

Park Benches, Lemons and an Olivier Nominee

Things are powering along here in the Menagerie offices.  Part of our team were rehearsing in the beautiful new building at Hills Road yesterday, and our ASM, Bryony, was totally inspired by the stunning coloured windows.  They do sound amazing!  Thanks Hills Road for helping us out with rehearsal space!  

Bryony has also come up trumps and found a park bench we can borrow for our play 'The Summer Before Everything'.  Saves us from stealing one from Parker's Piece (only joking!). Finding props is a busy job and people are running all over Cambridge finding the right bits and bobs to bring our Hotbed plays to life: wigs, candlesticks, a washing line, 18th century window, lemons, loaf of bread with money hidden in it...the list goes on.

We are also really excited about our guest shows and have started to arrange accommodation for visiting companies.  If you haven't already booked tickets for 'Ross and Rachel', don't miss this little gem.  It has an impressive list of accolades, and has been described as 'a startling piece of new writing' by The Stage. Written by 2015 Olivier Nominee, James Fritz, the play tells the mind-bending, heart-breaking story of what happens when a couple that was always meant to be together, gets together.  And stays together!  It was a sell-out hit in Edinburgh and in New York.

Anyway, hope to see you at Hotbed!

Mhari I Producer