Thursday, 30 December 2010

Double the Odds

We may not return till the 17th of January, but to whet the communal appetitie there is going to be a table read of the above named screenplay on Tuesday 4th January 2011at the Phoenix, with a 7.15pm arrival/7.30pm start time.

It's written by Louise Anne Munro and Sherril Turner. The latter ought to ring a bell, being a P-P legend who is currently living in L.A.

‘Two lookalikes, one a career driven cop, the other, a romantic single mum, are both struggling to deal with the demands of their criminal families. A chance meeting leads to a weekend life swap, which could be the perfect solution.’

There'll be a table read and an informal feedback session. It will also feature another P-P stalwart trying to make it on the mean streets of California, Napoleon Ryan.

And it's free. What more do you want?

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Just to confirm, the fun starts again on January 17th, and not the tenth as originally envisaged. And the new programme is up. Okay, we don't have a speaker yet, but when we do you will be the first to know.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Points Mean Prizes

As the dust settles on another year of productions and prizes, it's time to mull over the Christmas party. As ever, it was a fun-packed party last Monday, with a particularly successful melodrama written by Tim Gambrell, and featured a scene-stealing performance by my good self.

Here is how it worked out:

Best piece of writing went to Katy Darby for Girlfriends, and the Cobb Cup for best comedy went to Peter McKelvey for Tipperary.

Actress of the year was Lynne O'Sullivan. Actor of the year was Chris Prior.

We'll be back on January 17th, a week later than originally scheduled.

And if there is any more news, this is the first place you'll find it. In the mean time, have a good Christmas, have a good new year, and if you can, enjoy the snow.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Another Christmas Carol

I don't know. You wait all year for a production of Christmas Carol, then along come two at once. Hot on the heals of the version that stars Nicola Hollinshead, we have Matthew Dexter giving his own interpretation. It's a one man show for two nights only, on Monday the 20th and Tuesday the 21st of December, at 7.30 in the Rudolf Steiner Theatre,
35 Park Rd, London NW1 6XT, near Baker Street tube. Here's a teaser.

Last Christmas

We had a party. And to save us from tears, we're doing it again this year. It starts at 7 on Monday 13th DECEMBER.

At 7.45 there shall be a Cabaret featuring:

‘Condiments of the Season’ by Carrie Cohen

‘Janice Day’ and her uke

‘Herschey and Patrick’s Unusual Christmas’ by Debbie Maya

‘All I Want For Christmas’ – Katy Darby ( a song rather than the entire show, I imagine ).

Then at 8.30pm there is the Player-Playwrights Awards presentation.

And then at 9pm instead of the pantomime, we have the P-P melodrama, written by Tim Gambrell, entitled ‘The Goodly Dilemma’.

Apparently I am in it, making my stage debut. Better rush, got to go and learn my lines.

There is no charge for admission, food or entertainment, but you'll have to buy your own drink.

It's even possible there shall be some drunken carousing. And singing? Well, one thing can be certain. It's bound to be better than this travesty.

A Woman of No Importance

Not an accusation one would make of Olivia Hill, who is about to go on stage in the latest production of the Oscar Wilde drama. It's showing from 14th December 2010 – 16th January 2011, at the Greenwich Playhouse.
Further details here.

Friday, 3 December 2010

A Christmas Carol

For those with an eye for these things, many of you may have noticed that it's been a bit chilly lately. That's because Christmas is a-coming. And what better way to spend it, than watching Nicola Hollinshead perform in a cast of thousands in a revival of "A Christmas Carol" at the Lion and Unicorn in Kentish Town. It previews on 7th & 8th of December, with the Press Night on Thursday 9th. It's a long run too, into January, ending on Saturday 8th January. Fun starts at 7.30, and there are weekend matiness at 3.

Here's the blurb:

"There is an Ebenezer Scrooge in each of us; it is the lonely part of ourselves that hasn't yet learnt that love is a thing to share not own. We have been living too long in a credit Scrooged world and this current, global melt down is the consequence of our Ebenezer greed.

Using the classic words of Charles Dickens and underscored with traditional and new, original carols, 22 actors tell an unforgettable story in a way that you've never seen before; experience this new CHRISTMAS CAROL and be redeemed…forever".

UPDATE: The reviews are universally positive.

Here's the Ham and High:

"This is bound to be the hit of the Christmas season".

Broadway World:

"It is theatre at its simplest. And it is simply brilliant".

The Islington Gazette:

"Even the most jaded Scrooges will be charmed by the energetic retelling of this old yuletide yarn".

The British Theatre Guide:

"Your critics see an awful lot of Christmas Carols - and some of them are truly awful. This is one of the best taking a fresh and invigorating approach to telling the well-loved story".

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Anyone with a programme sent out in September could be forgiven for thinking that we had a piece by Sam South coming up on December 6th. Unfortunately, that piece has been postponed, but I am happy to say that a worthy replacement has been found, in the shape of Egress by Stephen Dinsdale.

This is quite a coup for us. Stephen experienced a spectacular success when his one and only stage play Anorak of Fire was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe back in the Nineties. It's been touring the world and elsewhere ever since. It's constantly being revived, has always been in print, and there was even a film. No doubt somebody somewhere once made tee-shirts and coffee mugs. Indeed, I think it's fair to say that Anorak was probably the most successful one act play... ever. Since then, though... nothing. Writer's block? Or just one long extended cruise? Either way, it's a long-awaited return.

The last two years the final script of the year went on win the Cobb Cup. Can it happen three years' running? Come along on Monday and find out.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Decline and Fall

Latest news from Johnny Hansler is that he's starring in the first ever stage production of the Evelyn Waugh novel, Decline and Fall at the Old Red Lion. It had its first night last night, and runs into the new year - January 29th being its last performance. With Johnny is a former Dr. Who. But which?

Here's a clue.

All Everyone Wants for Christmas

Katy and Luke's musical goes from strenght to strength. Hot on the heals of John Morrison's rave comes Francis Beckett's:

"All the musicals that make their promoters millions ARE inconsequential rubbish, because the West End is so risk-averse. Why do something good when Cats will still pack them in?

But at the tiny Jermyn Street Theatre near Piccadilly Circus there's a musical, whose tunes are just as catchy, whose dialogue is as much fun, whose girls are as pretty but twice as interesting, whose plot zips along as fast as any blockbuster, and whose dialogue is wittier; and yet which manages to be intelligent, and to say something interesting. And which has a twist at the end which suddenly turns it into something far bleaker and blacker and makes you think, yet still has you leaving the theatre with a song in your heart.

I'm talking about All I Want for Christmas by Katy Darby and Luke Bateman, and I urge you to get along to see it. You haven't got long. Unlike the rubbish, it won't be there forever".

Okay, let's declare an interest. They both know Katy, and they are both journalists who have written for the Guardian. The latter is a particularly damaging fact when it comes to anybody's credibility. However, here are some critiques from people who are perhaps more objective:

,UK Theatre Web, What's On Stage,
The National Student, and Broadway Baby.

Most of us would kill for reviews like them. Many of us have.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

About Xmas & Unrestricted Visits

November 29th brings us a double bill by newbie writer Carolyn Eden. No, not that Carolyn Eden, this Carolyn Eden.

"Carolyn Eden hates writing. Worse than writing is editing. Worse than writing, editing and cutting is, of course, not writing. She quit smoking on 5th October 2005. Her current hobbies are eating and dieting",
we are told. She is also known as, as an actress, Carrie Cohen. Anyway, I've read both pieces. They're shortish radio plays, both coming in at about half an hour, and I have to say they're rather good. Well, I don't have to say it, but I'll say it anyway. Because they are.

Come along on Monday, and see if you agree.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Sweeney Todd

Being a self-effacing chap, Philip Philmar doesn't like to brag about his close personal friendship with Hollywood superstar film director Tim Burton. Partly because it doesn't exist. But he has featured in at least two of his movies, and in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, he actually got to speak. And he did more. A whole lot more, as you will find out if you turn on your tellybox on Saturday night when it gets its network premiere on Channel Four at nine thirty five.

Here's a taster. ( gettit? )

Get your popcorn now.

Best of Enemies

Remember this, by Julia Collier? It got a reading in July last year, and now it's gone to full production.

"The Golden Age of Hollywood is revisited in this dark screwball comedy of two bitchy gossip fuelled reporters as they face off on the chat show from Hell. No really, from Hell. As they are brought face to face with the devilishly charming host Ed Vocatti, they must learn to take account of the damage that their muck raking has caused, and the lives they have ruined".

Press night is tonight, November 23rd, though it's already sold out, at the Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, Clapham North, London Sw9 9PH, and the box office is 020 77377276. It runs till Saturday 27th, with a matinee that day as well. It's directed by Ed DeCesare and Matthew Partridge.

It's the first half of a double bill, so that's double your entertainment. Be there or be square.


Anyone miss Katherine Way's latest contribution to Doctors? The episode Hex can be found here, on the i-player for the next week.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

All I Want for Christmas

What do you want for Christmas? The New Jamie Oliver book? A lifetime subscription to Sky Sports? Or maybe even an Ipad. Well we know what Katy Darby wanted, and her wish has been granted. It's a full production of All I Want for Christmas. We last saw Katy in September when we had a reading for her high-scoring musicless musical ( you had to be there ) Girlfriends. Well here's one she co-wrote earlier. Being as it's on at the Jermyn Street Theatre I reckon that qualifies as a West End Premiere. Hats off to Katy. It was actually done as a one act play at P-P, at the Horse and Groom. But since then it's been expanded, and songs have been added, co-written by Luke Bateman. All in all, it's another major achievement in a stellar year for productions by P-P writers.

Desperate for a perfect Christmas, Tone hires escort girl Irina to pose as his girlfriend when he goes to his parents for Christmas Day. But tensions soon rise and secrets spill in this black comedy about obsession, the search for happiness, and why It's A Wonderful Life is the most important film ever made.

Katy Darby and Luke Bateman are winners of the 2010 Mercury Sounds Of England Competition.

( I didn't know that. Ed )

"Twisted, thought-provoking and outrageously funny ... the perfect antidote to the usual saccharine fare that fills London's theatres over the festive season." Desmond O'Connor

"Darby and Bateman are the real thing" BBC 2

Jessica Martin, Andrew C.Wadsworth with Erica Guyatt and Rob Hughes

Tuesday to Saturday 8.00pm Saturday & Sunday matinee 4.00pm

Tickets: £16.00 £12.00 concessions

Not suitable for children under 12

Call the Box Office for further information on: 020 7287 2875

Competition - End of the Line

Monday 22nd November is competition time, and the theme this term is The End of the Line. It was so over-subscribed that I can exclusively reveal that my entry missed the deadline. No worries, as I wasn't too keen on it. However, there are ten that did. So what will we get? A black comedy about a scary animal being caught by a fisherman? Or a doom-laden horror movie about a train full of zombies drawing into a deserted railway station?

Come along on Monday to find out.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Tipperary & Peasoupers

It may be a long way to Tipperary but if you come along to the Phoenix on Monday 15th November at 7.45 you can hear the radio play named after the place, written by, if not our oldest, certainly our wisest member, Peter McKelvey. Peter's even got into tweeting now, and has also been undergoing a seemingly successful, body transplant, which may explain his recent non-attendance at P-P.

At any rate, Tipperary is a thirty minute piece, and will be closely followed by another, similar length play, Peasoupers. Is one about Ireland, the other about London, back in Victorian times?

Come along on Monday, and find out.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Irish Wake of Paddy McGrath

After its triumphant, sellout turn at the Camden Fringe in August, our very own Nicola Hollinshead returns in The Irish Wake Of Paddy McGrath which plays at the London Irish Centre, Camden, Nov 9-11 @ 8pm (with 2 pm matinee Nov 11) for three days, four performances.

TICKETS @ £10 (£5) from 0207 226 0524 or here ( via PayPal)

The writers of this play decided upon an Irish wake. But a wake with a difference! After all, Ireland is the only country in the world where the craic never ends even when a wake is over. This one is set in an Irish village where most of the community living there seem to be descendants of patients from a Dublin mental home. People like Martha; the nosiest neighbour you will ever come across and Shamus who would win awards for being Ireland’s greatest idiot. Also witness Bridget, eight months pregnant and single mum of ten kids, dance the night away. If you have never been to an Irish wake then you have to see this one for it tops any wake ever held. Wakes will never be the same after this, with top class actors like the one and only Eileen Pollock (best known as Lilo Lil in the BBC comedy "Bread") as Fanny McBride, a character who turns up at the wrong wake.

The Irish Wake of Paddy McGrath is liberally laced with foot-stomping traditional music, dance and song from a talented cast of eedgits from Ballydaff village.

AGM Minutes

Present: John Morrison (ch), Peter Thompson (sec), Tony Diggle (tr), Peter Briffa, Maryse Addison, Daniel Dresner, Colin Pinney, Debbie Maya, Sally Eyl, Geertje Dunning, Tony Killaspy, Peter Francis-Mullins, Eamon McDonnell, Lynne O’Sullivan, Peter Vincent, Victoria Johnston, Stephen Coe, Ajay Gohill, David de Keyser, Ninaz Khodaiji, Bill Gordon, Giles Armstrong, Mary Conway, Belinda Blanchard, Eddie Coleman, Silas Hawkins
Apologies: Tim Gambrell, Niall Spooner-Harvey, Anthea Courtenay, Chris Prior, Phil Philmar, Roger Mayhew, Denise O’Leary
Chairman’s remarks
John welcomed a good attendance and congratulated members on a productive year and many successes including a very good Showcase at the King’s Head and strong participation in the Camden Fringe. But our recent venue changes had been disruptive and scripts had been in unusually short supply. He hoped that the Phoenix Arts Club, which we could use without paying rent, would enable us to get on with marketing our business and improving the recruitment and retention of younger members. Victoria was to be congratulated on introducing us to this attractive venue (applause).
Minutes of AGM 2 November 2009 were approved
Treasurer’s report
Tony reported that our end of year balance (£1619.56) was at a record high, despite having spent over £300 on leaflets, and increases in the cost of insurance and visiting speakers. On the other hand recruitment and retention of new members had been extremely poor. We needed to consider how to bring in young writers and actors. Peter V and Victoria suggested that the Monday night attendance fee of £2.50 was a turn-off, whereas £2 would be acceptable. Victoria also suggested that we should be willing to allow people from the Industry to make occasional attendances as guests without having to join as members [Tony D said that he was willing to be flexible about this]. John suggested that we return to this discussion later in the evening.
Programme Secretary’s report
Peter Briffa confirmed that there had been a general shortage of scripts this year and that plays that were booked well ahead sometimes failed to materialise. He had therefore had more difficulty than usual in filling the programme (32 scripts read instead of the usual 36) and had to allow scripts in where advice of a mentor was absent or had gone unheeded. Comments from the floor suggested that the mentoring system was not well understood (although the explanatory leaflet Getting Your Act Together is on the P-P website) and that although good mentoring advice is given writers are often unable or unwilling to do a rewrite in the time available or to lose a place in the programme (that Peter B would find it hard to fill). John concluded that the mentoring system was sound: the problem was the shortage of scripts.
Election of officers and members of executive committee
The following serving officers were elected by a show of hands for a further term:
Chair John Morrison (p Peter Thompson, s Colin Pinney)
Secretary Peter Thompson (p Tony Killaspy, s Bill Gordon)
Treasurer Tony Diggle p Belinda Blanchard, s Giles Armstrong)
Programme Secretary Peter Briffa (p Peter Thompson, s Eddie Coleman)
Competitions Sec Lynne O’Sullivan (p Peter Thompson, s Stephen Coe)
Awards Sec Giles Armstrong (p Peter Thompson, s Peter Briffa)
Publicity Officer Ninaz Khodaiji was elected on the proposal of John Morrison, seconded by Peter Thompson,
Casting Secretary Victoria Johnston was elected with acclamation on the proposal of John Morrison, seconded by Peter Thompson and with promises of support by Belinda and Daniel. The handover by Anthea will be finalised over Christmas
The following serving Committee members were elected en bloc, on the proposal of John Morrison, seconded by Peter Thompson: Belinda Blanchard, Daniel Dresner, Roger Mayhew, Eamon McDonnell, Peter Vincent.
John expressed the gratitude of the society for the contributions made over the years by others on the Committee (Silas Hawkins, Chris Prior, Niall Spooner-Harvey, Elizabeth Yuill) who were not seeking re-election. Tony Killaspy was elected to join the Committee on the proposal of Peter Vincent, seconded by Peter Thompson.
Christmas Party arrangements
The Christmas Party will be at the Phoenix Club on 13 December 2010 and a buffet will be provided (for which Tony D will pay £200). Lynne will organise the entertainment and would welcome scripts and offers to perform. Giles reminded award-holders that their trophies need to be returned to him in time for presentation to the new winners.
Guest speakers
Amongst the new names put forward were Tony Jordan (Eddie Coleman can introduce) and Stephen Dee. Also Ninaz favoured a workshop evening (or afternoon) and will put a worked-up proposal to the programme secretary. John Morrison has it in mind to invite the organiser of the Camden Fringe Festival to give us a talk.
Showcase 2011
Another King’s Head Showcase was a well-supported option for 2011 but John mentioned putting our funds into productions on the Fringe or at Fringe Festivals (possibly in collaboration with others) or at the Phoenix Arts Club (which would ask for no more than a share of the Box office take) or at the Courtyard where Tim Gill might be able to allow us a rent-free week in the Spring. Following an inconclusive discussion John said that the various possibilities would be considered further in Committee. In order to assist the consideration of different options Peter V and Eamon were invited to go through the 32 scripts presented this year and report to the Committee as soon as possible in January.
Any Other Business
Returning to the general issue of recruitment and retention, a number of suggestions were made
• Belinda is reactivating P-P Facebook, with Victoria and Peter B (and others?) as administrators, to publicise P-P’s ongoing programme and activities
• We should be more welcoming to people coming for the first time
• Authors should see that a cast list is always provided
• Visitors who have not been before should be invited to provide an email address as well as a name when paying their attendance fee
• The selection of someone to chair the Monday night discussion should not take place on the night but a week before
• Tim Gill has a database of unsuccessful entrants for the Kings Cross Playwriting competitions and a way may be found of interesting the authors in P-P
• An open competition for short plays (eg suitable for the Camden Fringe Festival) was suggested, with prizes to attract interest from outside the membership. But the administrative processes are onerous and there was no enthusiasm for it.
Monday night attendance fee
The proposal that Monday night attendance fees should be reduced to £2 from 1 January next year was put to the vote and carried by 10 votes to 6 with a large number of abstentions.
Peter Thompson 2 November 2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

One More Round

No relation to the little known movie, One More Round is another of Roger Mayhew's experimental pieces. As Roger explains: "It's set at a bar; 4 guys who meet regularly after work. Cast each given a full character description and all given a sequence of entrances, exits and topics to discuss. Each character has an issue in their life.
I would audio record the session and then work up the full play afterwards with the 4 actors - intending then to stage it with that cast. Not yet got a title but for working purposes lets call it 'One More Round' ".

Sounds different to say the least.

Saturn's Return

Those of you who were wondering whatever happened to Richard Evans need wonder no more. He's been away, rehearsing for Saturn's Return, which gets its UK debut tonight at the Finborough Arms. Here's a review of it from the USA from a couple of years' ago, just to whet your appetite. 75 minutes without an interval, and it runs to November 27th.

Friday, 29 October 2010


To celebrate the new month we're not having a reading on Monday. Instead, it's the AGM.

7.45 is the start time. And it's free! What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Facing The Enemy

October 25th of October brings us a rare revamp of something from yesteryear. Six or so years ago at the Horse and Groom we did Facing the Enemy, a stage play by our treasurer Tony Diggle. Now it's back, rewritten, recast, and even better than before!

As Tony explains:

In one of the most far-flung and undeveloped areas on earth, it looks as if another border war is about to erupt between two of its countries, Wyvernia and Mabuta. But what is different this time? Why is one of Wyvernia’s generals saying that this time they’ll really show them? And what has one of its other generals taken that must be returned? The answers are slowly revealed in this play about war and conflict.

7.45 at the Phoenix. Be there.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Staying Up

October 18th brings us the return of John Hone. It's been a while. He had a pretty serious accident this time last year, and it was nip and tuck. However, the finest medical minds in the land soon sorted him out and here he is with a new script. I read an early draft, and it's a fast-moving family drama with a star-studded cast. Good to have the man back.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Patient

As explained in the previous post, we're not on today, which is probably just as well given the tube strike, but we are back next Monday, October 11th, for the debut play for us by Kevin Connor.

The Patient is a comedy stage play set in a pub-theatre. It’s Christmas and a theatre company is rehearsing for a pantomime performance of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The pub landlady is in love with the pantomime director, the head barman is playing Daddy Bear and a former porn star is playing Goldilocks. Anti-social behaviour, jealousy and betrayal push some of the characters to the point of losing their minds ....those that remain unaffected were never actually sane to begin with.

7.45 at the Phoenix. Be there.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

October 4th

It's a free week. The Phoenix had been pre-booked by the time of the great P-P takeover, which means nothing is going on. But we will be back in our usual place on Octber 11th. So spend the night fruitfully and see you again soon.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Free Birds

Monday, 27th September brings us Free Birds, a film script by Alison Wilkie. If it's anything like anything else by Alison, it'll be urban, gritty, funny and dramatic. Is it anything like her other stuff? I don't know, I haven't read it. But I'll be chairing the discussion, and if it doesn't feature this as its closing song, as we zoom in on the tear-stained cheeks of our loveable heroine, as she watches her beloved no-goodnik drug-addled boyfriend sitting on the coach as he takes that long journey back to Glasgow, then I will feel short changed.

Any excuse, really.

Not Tonight Caligula

Fancy attending a live recording for the Wireless Theatre Company? It's a world premiere of never before seen or heard production, written by National Treasures Ray Galton (Steptoe & Son, Hancock’s Half Hour) and John Antrobus (Comedy Playwright), and starring P-P's very own double act, Johnny Hansler and Clive Greenwood. Catch it at the Leicester Square Theatre, this Saturday 25th September at 2 p.m. It'll cost ya £10, and will be worth every penny. You can also telephone the theatre box office on: 0844 847 2475 OR you can email

And talking of Clive, there's still a week left to catch him in the Spanish Tragedy at the Rose Tavern. Busy man.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Getting Produced on the Fringe

As I have wittered on at inordinate length here over the last few months, P-P has been well-represented lately when it comes to getting produced on the Fringe, not just at Camden but elsewhere. To cash in our collective wisdom, John Morrison has persuaded a number of stage luminaries to come along on Monday 20th to give us the benefit of their experience.

These are our panellists: Tim Gill, joint AD of the Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton, Jessica Swale, AD of Redhanded Theatre and current director of Bedlam at Shakespeare's Globe, Adam Spreadbury-Maher, AD of the Cock Tavern and the King's Head, and Eamon McDonnell, of this parish, who has produced three of his own plays in London in the last 15 months.

It's about fringe everywhere. We've heard enough about how to write plays, and what theatres want. But this is the stage two, the practical bit where you have to start worrying about sorting out flyers, getting scenery, pesuading the local press to run a feature on you, and trying to find that special actor aged fifty to play that part you'd originally written for Ray Winstone. Can you make a profit, is it possible to break even, can you even put the play on without having to take out a second mortgage? What is the difference between profit share and box office split? Is there one?

Some of these questions may be answered.

The Terrapin

We haven't heard much from Paola Trimarco lately, but she's back with a new play. It's for one day only, but two performances at the Corpus Playroom, via the Cambridge Arts Theatre in, where else, Cambridge. I remember talking to her about it, a good two years ago, and finally it's arrived. It's an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith short story, The Terrapin, and it plays on September 25th at 2.30 p.m and 8.p.m.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Hello, hello we're back again! After a busy summer, P-P is back. New venue ( the Phoenix ), new programme, but the same high standard you have come to know and love.

First up is the book of a musical written by Katy Darby. Don't expect an all-singing, all dancing experience. but do expect a rattling good yarn leavened by wit and wisdom in the trademark Darby manner.

Come to the Phoenix Arts club on September 13th in Charing Cross Road. Show starts at 7.45, but you might want to get there a bit earlier to grab a seat, a drink, and to indulge in some ribald socialising.

Shelfstackers - the Series

Remember Shelfstackers? Written by P-P's very own Bede Blake, it first surfaced as a pilot back in March. Filmed in one night, the whole thing was a bit rushed. Well not only has it been greenlit, episode one of a season of six has already been shown. You can catch it now on the i-Player here and see the rest of the series here or hereabouts, or even on BBC2 on Saturday lunchtime.

Enjoy! And hats off to Bede!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Siren Called

Thanks go out to everyone who attended Siren. I had a terrific time, as indeed did some of the audience. Or so they said! We got two favourable reviews, and sold out three out of the four nights. Well done to Paula, as well as the rest of the P-P crew who contributed, from the original reading, the showcase and the production itself. And well done too to Glenn Speers who played Geoff, and Paul Blinkhorn who directed. They may not be names familiar to you, but I have a feeling they will be soon.

Altogether it was a great experience. And not overwhelmingly expensive. If any other P-P members have one act plays out there, it's not a bad idea at least to consider the Camden Fringe. Talking of which, yesterday I along with Tony Diggle, Lynne O'Sullivan, Peter Thompson, Ninjaz and Ajay went to see Fox Girl Five, by Eddie Coleman. PT was impressed:

"Eddie Coleman has never written anything better and Amber Holmes did a superb job with these five wannabe Spice Girls. They really could perform and their second number (at the end of the show) received loud sustained applause such as you seldom hear on the Fringe. And the men were good too, not least the lugubrious Pete Picton. I just loved it".

And there's one more performance, today at the Lion and Unicorn at five o'clock. Indeed, if you stick around for half an hour afterwards, there's a performance of 'LIE BETWEEN LOVE AND DEATH' featuring Victoria Johnston. Two for the price of... two, but at least you don't have any more travel expenses. I'm going along, and expect to see you there as well.

If you can't make it tonight, it does however move to The Space on The Isle of Dogs
269 West Ferry Road E14
Tickets available at on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th August at 8pm.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Siren is Calling

There are a lot of P-Pers putting shows on at the Camden Fringe this year. I shall try and link to them all here, but pride of place definitely goes ( and I would say that, wouldn't I? ) to my very own Siren. You may remember it as Love Me Backwards. It's been retitled and is getting a full production at the Etcetera on August 10-13th at 7.30 p.m. and stars our very own Paula Gilbert, and someone who may be new to you, the equally handsome Glenn Speers. Read more about it here.

It would also be remiss of me not to mention Eamon McDonnell's play Tell It Like It Is which was P-Ped many a moon ago, which is on from 6 - 10 August, 9.30-10.30pm

at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre
42-44 Gaisford Street
Kentish Town
London NW3 2ED

"This darkly comic play recounts the meeting in 1927 New York between Mae West and silent screen icons Clara Bow and Louise Brooks. When Clara and Louise spirit Mae away to a hotel room from the cops they cannot know the craziness, both funny and dark, that will ensue".

Phillipa Tatham is presenting The Adventures of Sydney & Arabella: The Exiled Urban Foxes, again at the Etcetera at 4.30, on 13th and 14th.

If you rush over from the Camden Head, you could see the earlier "TeakShow's Twisted Sketches" with Jonathan Hansler and Jacqui Stirling, which has four dates, August 12-15, at 2.45 p.m.

Then again, Fox Girl Five by Eddie Coleman and directed by Amber Holmes is on at the Lion and Unicorn on 12-17th at five p.m. This features our very own Pete Picton as the manager of a new girl band, and charts their rise from first audition to first gig.

THERE ARE OTHERS! I'll add to them, as and when the info comes in.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Angela Unbound

Johnny Hansler is back! Not that he's ever been away, but the hardest working man in showbiz is playing once again at the Leicester Square Theatre from August 4 till August 29 Wednesday to Sat at 8.45pm. If you're going, do check with the theatre, as the listings aren't quite clear about start times.

Donegal Wake

Fresh from her glorious triumph in the summer competition, Lynne O'Sullivan puts on her acting clothes and treads the boards in Donegal Wake. It's at the London Irish Centre, Camden Square NW1 9XB from August 3rd to the 12th, is written by Ria Higgins directed by Owen Nolan.

"In a ramshackle house off the west coat of Ireland a sudden death brings a family together for the first time in years".

Monday, 26 July 2010

Show Me The Money

Summer term may be over, but the hits keep on coming. We may have technically ended our year long lease at the Green Man, but there is still one more show there. This coming Sunday, August 1st, our esteemed treasurer Tony Diggle has got a reading of a play that originally surfaced three years ago, but which has since been reworked.

It's at two o'clock, downstairs in the Porters Bar.

“David has just turned forty. He’s determined to start making big money, find the girl of his dreams and get married. Jenny is …. less than forty. She’s determined never to do any work at all if she can possibly help it, marry a millionaire and spend all the money. Will they get what they want, and if they do, will it turn out to be what they expect? Come and find out in this dark, “city” comedy about the corrosive power of money.”

It features Pete Picton, Fiona McGee, Phil Philmar, Chris Prior, Richard Evans, and Daniel Dresner. Matthew Dexter is reading the stage directions.

Be there, for one last hurrah!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Annual Showcase

It's that time again.

Summer is here and it's the annual showcase. It's the usual format: three short one-act plays. These are:

TWENTY NINE by Peter Vincent, directed by Mark Fitzgerald: “A sick woman lives alone with her handicapped son. A serial killer arrives at the house….”

TANGO IN THE DARK by David Carr, directed by Lexy Howe: “A man, a woman, a dog, a car and the night. What could possibly go wrong?”


BOOK LOVERS by Kevin Mandry, directed by Dimitri Devdariani: “A library…or a life? Which is better? And which would you pay most for?”

Tickets are £2 a head for members and their guests. If you are in the Industry you may get in free. Otherwise you pay at the door.

If you are bringing guests please email Peter Thompson their names.

The place is, once again, the King’s Head Theatre, at 115 Upper Street Islington N1 1QN.

It starts at 7.30, and is on this Sunday 18th July 2010.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Competition - Behind the Mask

Monday 12th July is competition time. The title came from organiser Lynne O'Sullivan and has proved a popular one. So what do you think we'll be getting? Ten plays about demented fencers? Psychotic surgeons? Understudies in Phantom of the Opera?
Who knows. Come along on Monday and find out.

7.45, at the Green Man.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Peter Cox's Guide to Re-Writing

A few weeks ago Peter Cox came to gave us a talk. Quite frankly, and with no disrespect to any of our previous speakers, the feedback I got from that talk surpassed anything I have ever heard before. It was quite unanimously enthusiastic.

Prepare to be further excited, as Peter has sent me the notes he had for the night, which have since themselves been re-written. Makes sense, doesn't it? I won't say any more, other than that anyone interested in writing really ought to read, digest and think about the following. Really you ought bookmark this post, and go to it every time you write something. Before, during and after.

With no further ado:

Re-Writing: a non-judgemental, non-sentimental, non-subjective craft skill.

by Peter Cox


Clarify - the job of a dramatist is to act like a ‘Crazy Traffic Policeman’ – to make characters and their stories crash into each other. To reveal character and story through action.

Talk about the way humans / babies learn through ‘what happens next’? (ie suspense / story structure.)

Exercise / Ice breaker: All write down different ways of saying / expressing ‘The War is Over’ – can be images or gesture as well as words. Share them aloud. Instant rewriting – this creates an amazing range of choices taken – rewriting pure and simple

Move onto reasons for re-writing from different points of view in a creative team – this is not an exhaustive list. Some mainly apply to tv or film – most apply across all forms of drama.

Think of these things a writer’s Toolkit – not a personal attack

Producer Initiated:

Length – needs to be tighter / shorter to fit ‘the slot’
Cost (economic / location / character numbers / re-budget etc)
Story not strong enough or 'right' enough for demographic / medium
Believability / truth
Legal (defamation / good taste & decency / easily imitated behaviour eg showing how to tie a noose is not allowed)
‘Shite’ (Brookside producer’s favourite ‘note’ in first draft meetings – said regarding page after page of script.)
The F*ck Fairy (OFCOM Broadcasting Code) (the fairy who comes in the night and sprinkles a script with words that can’t be broadcast.)
Actor being sacked / ill / accident / pregnant / walking out
Changes required as a result of Casting

Director led:

Not getting under the skin of character enough
Cutting exposition
Saying too much
Needing to signpost more / or less
Learn the skill of ‘listening to the meaning’ of what they're saying – often director’s struggle to express their thoughts – because it’s not easy – listen for the deeper meaning of what they say – don’t expect an instant quick fix alternative.
Too much Research on the page
Don't yet care enough about a character
'They're not talking to each other'

Actor led:

Something missing - a scene between certain characters
Can be said with a look
Democracy / Devising processing
Poor punctuation / actors need to be able to breathe – think like a composer where the human voices are the instruments / orchestra
Punctuation affecting meaning – punctuation is your armoury of amazing weapons – deploy them well
Taking the curse off
Subtext unclear

Writer Initiated:

Pre- writing – first draft as improvisation / find a seed – germinate it – grow it

Active re-imagining – walk around script – different points of view
Structural – what happens when – story architecture – story arc
Functional – is each character doing their job for you – could two characters become one
Emotional architecture – individual arcs / contrast – complement
Create a new sub-plot to shine a light on or complement or contrast with main plot

Red pen, stopwatch and scissors – use them – don’t get carried away with your own cleverness / eloquence
Knowing when to come into a scene / get out of a scene
At dialogue level – rhythm / difference / unique voices
Balancing – humour / emotion / action / formal inventiveness
Refining the poetic unity of the whole play

Not enough........ suspense / what happens next / this is how humans learn
Not enough Dramatic Tension
Misplaced Relaxation of Tension
Opposed Forces not fully realised

Shutting yourself up
Timing / placing of entrances / exits
Moving one character's words to another – what is said, not just who says it
Research and revised / extended research
Negative checks – legal clearabce

Tying up loose ends
Turning a Closed Ending into an Open Ending / vice versa
Not yet found 'the pattern' of the play
Something needs foreshadowing
Not yet got the Cast Design right
Characters sounding to alike – work on Speech patterns / lexicon / vocabulary
Too 'on the nose'

Create a variety of ‘fellow writer’ voices in story development / the writing team in your head… let the offer points of view and opinion and alternative ways of writing something

Don't ask 'How good is my script?'
Instead ask, 'How can it be improved? / How can I make it better?'

Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Now that England have crashed out of the World Cup we can at last turn our minds to things theatrical, and what better way than to see a new play by a P-P newcomer, Philippa Tatham. She only joined us in April, gave a fine performance in David Carr's Meadowlands a few weeks ago, but this is her first play for us, 'Robots: A Farce for Revolutionaries' which is, she says:

"very loosely based on the doings of the young Bolsheviks in the 19th/early 20th century, although it is not specifically about anyone or even meant to be particularly realistic. As the title suggests, it is a farce, but pushed to the limits of the genre, to the point where it is not necessarily funny".

Does that whet the appetite sufficiently? July 5th, at the Green Man.

Virgin Shorts

It's that time again. Vote early, vote often. You do have to register, though you can watch for free.

First, here's Philip Philmar, in The Audition, a very short film made by Daniel Wilson. No relation, I think, to a very scary Japanese film I once saw of the same name.

Second, here's a film by Lexy Howe and two others, entitled Switch, a very short film made by Daniel Wilson. No relation, I think, to a fairly ghastly sounding Blake Edwards Edwards movie I have yet to see.

Third, here's Leanne Davis in The Conformers, which has little in common with the Bertolucci seventies' classic.

Fourth, Napoleon Ryan, in an animated piece, Train of Thought, which has everything in common with this film.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Summer Showcase

Okay, here's the gen. There will be a further reminder nearer the time, though it's pretty near the time now already. The place is, once again, the King’s Head Theatre, at 115 Upper Street Islington N1 1QN.

It starts at 7.30, and is on Sunday 18th July 2010.

The programme consists of three short stage plays:

TWENTY NINE by Peter Vincent, directed by Mark Fitzgerald: “A sick woman lives alone with her handicapped son. A serial killer arrives at the house….”

TANGO IN THE DARK by David Carr, directed by Lexy Howe: “A man, a woman, a dog, a car and the night. What could possibly go wrong?”


BOOK LOVERS by Kevin Mandry, directed by Dimitri Devdariani: “A library…or a life? Which is better? And which would you pay most for?”

Tickets are £2 a head for members and their guests. If you are in the Industry you may get in free. Otherwise you pay at the door

If you are bringing guests please email Peter Thompson their names.

Peter Thompson, 020 8883 0371:

BAFTA and Stellar Network present Pitch Up! Call for Submissions

News just in from Leanne Davis:

Stellar Network and BAFTA are co-hosting which is open to all, not just those already established in the industry. It is a pitching event in which entrants go to BAFTA and pitch their TV idea to a panel which includes the controller of BBC Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson, Channel 4 factual entertainment commissioning editor Alistair Pegg and Greg Brennan, Head of Drama at Tiger Aspect. There are prizes for the top 3 pitches and there is also the possibility that the best ideas could be commissioned (several have been in the past).

Let them explain:

How It Works

First of all we want to hear your idea. Get yours in by registering it through the Pitch Up! listing: go to the 26th July on the calendar to register it online.

The idea should be no more than 100 words long and should be a brief summary. It can be a drama, documentary, entertainment or features idea - anything goes. Be as concise as possible but always keep in mind what makes your idea DIFFERENT and ORIGINAL.

It's free for Stellar Network and BAFTA members and £5 for non-members. Only one idea per person permitted. The deadline for entries is 4th July, 2010.

We're as concerned as you are with protecting them: they will not be visible to the public, and if you like we can send you an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) by email in return. Just request one from Hannah at

We will pick out the top 10 ideas, and then on the 26th of July we'll gather the lucky 10 at BAFTA to pitch to an exclusive panel which includes the controller of BBC Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson, Channel 4 factual entertainment commissioning editor Alistair Pegg and Greg Brennan, Head of Drama at Tiger Aspect.

The panel will select the top three pitches, who will win a fantastic set of prizes. And, of course, there's always the chance that your incredible idea will be taken on by a member of our panel and might just end up on screen.

Even if you don’t get selected this time, you can still attend and benefit from the feedback the other pitchers receive. The event takes place on the evening of July 26th – more details coming soon!

If you would like to learn more about Stellar Network and hear about other stellar opportunities such as this one, join the mailing list by visiting

Plays Wanted

Email just in:

Critically acclaimed MokitaGrit Productions are launching a search to uncover the best in new-writing. New script competition 'The Script 2011' will be building on the already considerable reputation of MokitaGrit as one of the most prolific independent production houses in the UK.
We are looking for scripts with complex, engaging text and the potential for multimedia or mixed-media production. Submitted plays need to engage with contemporary society, either politically or culturally, and give a voice to strong and diverse characters. We are happy to accept scripts that need development.
The company will read all scripts. The top scripts as chosen by the full company, will be developed with the writers. They will then have extracts performed over a week. These performances will take place in front of an industry-led panel and a public audience in Spring 2011. The winner of the festival will be taken to full production by MokitaGrit, for which funding is already in place.
Entry into the competition is by hard-copy only. Please send scripts to MokitaGrit Literary Department, 33A Station Road, London RM3 0BS. Please include an email address for correspondence. If you would like your script returned please include a stamped, addressed envelope.
Closing date for entries is 11th September 2010.

Artistic Director
Mokita Grit Productions

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Green Crow

Back in the mists of time Jan Harris won our coveted Playwright of the Year Award with Denial of Justice. Since then, she has also given us the Fan, which was showcased at the King's Head couple of years ago, as well as winning the coveted John Grange Cup for comedy of the year, Then There's My Daughter. Now she is back with an hour long stage play about another playwright, Sean O'Casey, who, whatever else you think of him, never garnered such accolades.
Called The Green Crow, it concerns a day towards the end of the life of the ageing Irish scrivener, when a young intruder ruffles his feathers. It's set in Torquay (?!) in 1964, and is a three-hander. But don't be expecting Fawlty Towers.

Monday June 28th, 7.45. Green Crow at the Green Man.

Be there.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Bad Magazine

Monday June 21st sees our return to the Green Man with Bad Magazine, a sitcom by James Gill.
By day, James ( Or rather Gill, because that's what he calls himself - a bit like Sting, Madonna, and Stalin ) works for Metal Hammer Magazine. It's the usual sordid stuff - trading licks with Slash and sniffing cocaine off groupie's breasts - but at night Gill gets to work on his sensitive side and pens tv sitcoms.

Bad Magazine is his first shot. Also, being a believer in "Write About What You Know", Gill has settled for the perennial theme of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

Let me quote the man himself:

"What do you do for fun when your hobby becomes your job? What happens to a teenage dream when you cram a cynical thirty-something into it? Bad Magazine is a brutally honest skit-com that pulls back the velvet fa├žade to reveal the hilarious nature of life in the media.

What’s working at rock ‘n’ roll magazine magazine Bad like? It depends who you ask: it’s a school, a prison and a play pen. While the magazine’s motley staff tries desperately to create stories out of nothing the biggest controversies are going on in the office itself: plagiarism, celebrity-stalking, extortion, bullying, fraud, sexism and violence.
Once they had dreams of peer recognition, accolades and meeting their heroes: now they’d settle for a cup of tea, a steady paycheck and the occasional wriggle with a real, live woman. It’s a dream they could achieve… if they weren’t always on deadline.
We’ve all been there: out of our depth while doing something that’s beneath us, passing ourselves off as cool, keen and knowledgeable and when actually we’re bored, tired and underpaid. It’s not the insider joke that counts; it’s the outsider joke.There have been sitcoms about offices, about newspapers and about music: but there’s never been one about all three – and none as honest as this. Almost all of Bad Magazine is based on real people and real life events. Especially the stuff that paints the media as a bunch of clueless, cynical mercenaries. And the stuff that makes no sense".

I'm afraid I had to edit out some swearing. Still, it will all be there on Monday, two episodes unexpurgated and in full. Be there.

Return to the Green Man

After our fortnight's experiment at the Phoenix, we return to our regular base at the Green Man in Great Portland Street for the final month of the summer schedule.

Remember: 7.45 p.m. at the Green Man.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


You are hereby ordered to watch this video. It's part of a competition, and the winner is the most watched, irrespective of quality.

Nonetheless it's not bad. And it's less than a minute, so even if it was...

Where Are You, Lillie?

Monday 14th is again at the Phoenix Art Club in Charing Cross Road, and is again at 7.45.

It's Where Are You, Lillie? It's a five hander, is written by Mary Conway, whose "For The Love of Michael" proved such a success in April 2009, and is equally as powerful. I know. I read it. I don't want to give too much away, but it's a family drama with a contemporary theme of Islamophobia lurking underneath, set among the type of people who eat salads out of wooden bowls.

We've all met them.

So, 7.45 at the Phoenix.

A Request

Tony Killaspy, who had a reading in October with his one act play, End Days, has sent this, slightly edited, email:

"I've just taken early retirement and am thinking of becoming an agent representing actors and comedy writers. I would like to place a piece on the P-P website asking any members who might have information regarding starting up as an agent if they could contact me. As a number of our members are actors and no doubt have agents they may be able to help. I'm particularly interested in things like contracts and taxation.

Best wishes,

Tony Killaspy"

Consider it done, Tony. Anyone willing to help, here's his email:

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Competition UPDATE

Last night, at our, thus far, pretty popular Phoenix Arts Club experiment, more than one person asked me about the competition. Don't ask me, I know nothing. But I have since asked Lynne, who tells that there have been six entries, and there are four left. So, if you are interested, get writing. The night in question is July 12, and the deadline is June 28. Like I say, they may well all have gone by then.

And the theme, in case you'd forgotten, is BEHIND THE MASK.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


Monday 7th June - at our shiny, temporary new home of the Phoenix, brings us Meadowlands. Anyone with an early copy of the programme will note that this slot was given over to the perhaps more eye-catchingly titled piece I Was A Teenage Lesbian.

That however, was the early days, and now that the play has actually been written, it transpires that our heroine after all wasn't a lesbian when young. Or if she was, it hasn't been deemed of sufficient interest that that remains the title.

So, Meadowlands it is. What's it about? Search me. It only flew into my inbox less than a week ago. Maybe it's got something to do with this. Or maybe it's a heartfelt drama about the creation of an American sporting arena.

But its writer is David Carr, whose debut with us, Tango in the Dark, is still talked of in glowing terms by those with memories deeper than a goldfish's. Indeed, it's going to be in next month's showcase.

So come along to the Phoenix on Monday. 7.45 - though the start may be a little delayed. It's a new home, so who knows how these things work out!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Dates for Your Diary

We shall be giving a “trial run” to a new venue, the Phoenix Artist Club – off Charing Cross Road – on the first two Mondays in June (Monday,7th and Monday, 14th) 7.15pm for 7.45pm as now. Details are as follows:


Address: 1, Phoenix Street,

Charing Cross Road,

London, WC2H 0DT


The Phoenix Artist Club is a basement club on the corner of Phoenix Street and Charing Cross Road. It is under the Phoenix Theatre (where “Blood Brothers” is running) just north of Cambridge Circus and practically opposite Foyles. The club consists primarily of a bar room with a long well-appointed bar along one wall, and a private room which is adjacent to the bar area and which is where we shall be located.

Some of the plus points of this venue are as follows:

A reasonably regular, ample space for our activities with no sight line problems, good acoustics and comfortable seating.
No charge: the room is free. The ethos of the club is to be a place for people from the arts world to meet and network.
Good ambience, atmosphere, “gemutlichkeit”, “feng shui” etc., both in the room and in the adjoining bar
Parking for bicycles and motorcycles in the immediate vicinity
Some free parking after 6.30pm in New Compton Street nearby.
Close to Tottenham Court Road and Leicester Square tubes.
Food served until 9.30pm. Good standard pub food (i.e. fish and chips, sausage and mash, various burgers, omelettes etc) available at £7 give or take, and some cheaper snacks.
Wine, however, is expensive (£5.50 for a small glass). Wine drinkers should get together and buy a bottle to share.

A full announcement will be made and more details given at the reading next Monday (May 24th) at the Green Man.

Time Please

May 24th brings us the return of Denise O'Leary. Denise first came to P-P as a writer, then found herself cast in other people's work, and before we knew it she won writer and actor of the year, in the same year. Time Please is her first work for us since Pandora's Boxes which got performed on digital radio station Resonance a couple of year's ago.

This is another radio piece, forty-five minutes in length, and should be well worth your time, anyway.

Come along to the Green Man, at 7.45.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Peter Cox Speaks & Norman's Invasion

May 17th brings us an exciting double bill. First up is a talk by award-winning playwright Peter Cox. Let Peter introduce himself:

"I began my writing career at the Royal Court Theatre where winning the George Devine Award for most promising new playwright changed my life. Since then my stage plays have been performed throughout Britain - from the Royal National Theatre and Belfast Opera House to miner's welfare halls. (The latter during a stint with 7:84 Theatre Company (England).)

Over the years I've also written and developed film and television drama for the BBC and BBC Wales as well as various independent companies. My radio drama has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 & 4 and BBC Radio Wales. A huge chunk of my career was spent writing 227 episodes (I know!) of the Channel 4 drama serial, Brookside, between 1986 and 2003. (It was my drug of choice!) During that time I was a member of the writers' 'team' that created multiple-strand stories for more than 2,400 episodes!! As you might guess I love story and the power of story metaphor in people's lives".

And that's just the tip of a veritable iceberg of creativity. He told me he could talk for hours, but we're settling for half an hour, followed by questions, on the broad subject of rewriting. Something some of us don't do enough of, I suspect.

Then, after a ten minute break for beer and skittles, there is a brand new tv sitcom by the P-P legend that is Tim Gambrell, a man who needs no introduction. Unless you don't know who he is. Anyway, this is the set-up:

"Norman Flyte is a 21st century office facilities manager in the city. He's not bad at his job, but his face doesn't quite fit the corporate image and professionally he's probably got as far as he's going to get. Privately he is a lonely batchelor who's never had much luck with women and has spent too long under the watchful gaze of his mother.
One day, randomly, Norman finds himself transported from his office to the West Country in Norman England. There, suddenly, many aspects of his life start to become more successful - but it's not all plain sailing for sure. Why has Norman been sent to Dipford, near Trull, in 1067? What does the future there hold for him, and why do calls from his mother still seem to get through on his mobile phone?

You won't find answers to all of these questions in episode one - if you did there wouldn't be any reason to tune in for the rest of the series!"

I'm rather proud of this one as, even before it had been written, I thought up the title. I haven't actually read it, but rest assured if it's half as good as Tim's usual stuff it'll still probably be quite funny. And twice as good as most of the stuff that actually gets on the telly.

So, 7.45. Green Man. Be there.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


After the trauma of the bank holiday and the fun of the election, we can all get back to normality on Monday 10th of May with, if not the first cuckoo of spring, the first reading of Cuckoo. Jean Rees is making her P-P debut with this intense stage play, and it's been read before at another group, so it isn't a completely unknown entity.

So, 7.45 p.m. at the Green Man. Be there.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

May Day!

As usual, there's no reading this week as it's the May Day bank holiday, but we'll be back on May 10th.

Last year
in this spot I showed you some Russkies having fun at this time of year. Well here's part two.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Daniel Deronda

You're a cultured lot at P-P, so you'll no doubt be familiar with 'Daniel Deronda' by George Eliot. Well, there's a stage version, courtesy of Traffic of the Stage, to be directed by Harry Meacher. It will be playing at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate, 5th - 29th May, Tuesday - Saturday 8pm, Sunday 4pm £12 / £10 concessions, £15 / £12 Saturdays. Box office: 020 8340 3488

Why am I telling you this? Because it stars our very own, Caroline Langston, playing Fanny Davilow.

Here's a teaser. Okay, she isn't actually in this version, but let's face it, she should have been.

When the Dog Dies

At last! It was 2008's P-P Comedy of the Year, and now it's on the wireless. Radio 4 to be precise, starting this Friday at 11.30 in the morning, and there are six episodes in total.

"Ronnie Corbett reunites with Ian Davidson[/p and Peter Vincent, the writers of his hit BBC sitcom Sorry, for this new comedy for BBC Radio 4.

Corbett plays Sandy Hopper, who is growing old happily along with his dog, Henry. His grown-up children are both married to people Sandy doesn't approve of and would like him to move out of the family home so they can get their hands on their money earlier. But Sandy is not having this - he's not moving until the dog dies.

Sandy also has a lodger and his daughter is convinced that the too-attractive Dolores is after her father and his money.

Luckily, Sandy has three grandchildren; sometimes a friendly word or a kindly hand on the shoulder can really help a grandad in the 21st century. Man and dog together face a complicated world".

So, get ready to put the kettle on, dig out the jaffa cakes, and put your feet up. Here's some footage of a dog to put you in the mood. Don't worry. It's very much alive.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


April 26th brings us act one of Deadlock, a new comedy thriller by Peter Vincent and Barry Cryer. PV needs no introduction to P-P members. He's got a radio sitcom starring Ronnie Corbett coming up on Radio4 before the month is out, has written for Dave Allen, the Two Ronnies, Frankie Howerd, Bruce Forsyth, Les Dawson, Ben Elton ( Ben Elton?? )and many, many more. Check him out.

For that matter Barry Cryer doesn't need much of an introduction either. I guess he's currently most known as a panellist on "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" but he's got a record as distinguished as PV's. So, PV and BC together again - this is history in the making. It's a bit like Led Zeppelin reforming for the O2 gig a year and half ago. Only louder.

So, act one on Monday. I tried to persuade them to do the whole thing, but then it was gently pointed out to me that it is quite long. And hey, if you want to see it all, you'll just have to wait for it to come to a theatre near you. Which it surely will.

Monday, 7.45, at the Green Man.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Competitive Spirit

In one of those serendipitous moments for which Player-Playwrights is justly famous, on Monday 19th April, the day of the Boston Marathon, we bring you a play about... the Boston Marathon. Well, kind of. One of the characters intends to run in it. It's by Eliza Wyatt, who hasn't given us a script for many a year. It will surely be worth the wait. Writing plays is not a sprint after all, and this one has been around the block once before.

So while it's evening in the UK, and our cast are sweating it out in the confines of the Green Man, it's morning in America, and thousands of lardbutts will be sweating it out on the mean streets of Boston.

Monday 19th April, at the Green Man. Be there.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Bonfire Night

So that's it for another term. There is no meeting on Monday 5th of April, it being Easter. But we are back on April 12th with a play written by me. It's entitled Bonfire Night, and is a black comedy about murky goings-on in the English countryside. It will star Anthea Courtenay, Chris Prior, and making his long-awaited return, Richard Evans. Please come along.

April 12th is Bonfire Night. Be there.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Charlie Is My Darling

The winter season ends on a typically upbeat note on March 29th with the reading of a piece by P-P veteran Peter McKelvey. Members with extremely long memories may remember ( I don't, I wasn't around back then ) that Charlie Is My Darling has been given a showing at P-P before. Or rather its first act did. Then it was a tremendous hit, and Mr. McKelvey has finally picked up his quill and written the second act. On Monday we'll be getting the complete, unexpurgated version.

It's a "somewhat surrealist take on Charles Dickens", we are old and should run for approximately 80 minutes. There is a cast of three: Philip Philmar, Cheryl Anderson and Peter Picton.

That ought to whet your appetite. Sticklers for the original programme may have noted that Nightmare in the Garden of Eden by the same Mr. McKelvey was originally planned for this evening. That is now undergoing something of a rewrite, but will no doubt be rescheduled soon. It's got a great title, if nothing else.

The Summer Showcase

Before last night's entertainment there was a meeting of the P-P Committee which agreed that we should put on another Showcase at the King's Head, Islington this year on the same lines as previously and that we should aim for Sunday 18 July as our preferred date.
Our producer will be new member Ninaz Khodaiji, with Peter Thompson as her assistant.
The three plays which are to be included are 29 by Peter Vincent, Tango in the Dark, by David Carr, and The Book-lovers by Kevin Mandry.
Well done in particular to Eamon McDonnell who chaired the selection panel with his customary elan, and to Peter Thompson for pushing for Ninaz to sort this out. Well done to, to our three writers, without whom etc.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Bare Bones Night

Ah, the dilemma! Next Monday brings us a new play by Peter McKelvey ( more about that shortly ), but there is a clash for ardents students of theatrical excellence, as our very own Leanne Davis is performing that night at the monthly Bare Bones Night, at the Old Red Lion in Angel.

Among the many delights that evening, Leanne will be doing a monologue called "We Heard a Screech" written especially for her by Jack Thorne ( a writer for Skins, Shameless, Cast Offs and The Scouting Book For Boys).

The show plays twice a night, at 7pm and 830pm, and was sold out last month so book in advance to ensure a seat. It's £9 an advance ticket, £10 on the door.

Saturday, 20 March 2010


Bede Blake is one of the rising stars in the P-P firmament. He first came to global attention winning the round adjudicated by our Presidents, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, of the Last Laugh sitcom prize. Since then he's regularly bombarded us with sitcom pilots and ideas, always scoring highly, with Failure is an Option winning the John Grange Cup a few years' back. Now, at long last, one of his scripts has made it to the screen. P-P never debuted Shelfstackers, so here's the chance for all of us to make its acquaintance. It's a half hour comedy for teens, and "is set in urine-tinted regional supermarket Grogans and follows the interminable shifts of four frustrated teens on the bottom of the store’s tribal pecking order: shelf stacking. Presiding over them, like an incorrigible monkey, is their guileless manchild of a store manager, a poster-boy for what happens when careers go bad. And added to this is an unseen corporate management, somewhere in Basingstoke, making increasingly desperate PR decisions that must sound great in the board room but are positively crackpot when put into practice on the shop floor."

One interesting piece of casting is Jennifer Saunders' daughter Beattie as one of the leads. Watch it and enjoy. If it does well it could go to series. It's on this coming Saturday, 27th March at 12.25. p.m. on BBC2, at the same time as Football Focus. Take it from me, this will be a lot funnier.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Russians Are Coming

Monday March 22nd is Competition Time - ten pieces battling it out on the above theme. Not my idea, so not surprisingly it was extremely well-subscribed. At least two pieces were turned down, so come along on Monday to see the ones that made it. Here's a trailer for a movie of the same name ( well close, it was actually called the Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming, which was pretty over the top. Then again it was a pretty over the top film. )

UPDATE: As usual, another triumphant evening. A slightly more detailed review will be contained in the next programme. Well done too, to the winner, whose name escapes me.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Claim and Shame

Monday 17th of March brings us a new play by journalist, historian, and playwright Francis Beckett. I say new, but, unusually for us, this play has actually been produced. Last December at the 503. But, not untypically of Francis, this is extremely topical, being a satire on the expenses scandal that kept us all amused during the summer.

"Newly elected Labour MP Meg Jones finds herself in the front line of the expenses scandal, while her husband falls for a classic newspaper honey trap. Their lives and their marriage disintegrate before the relentlessly cruel headlines. But was it their fault – or are they convenient scapegoats for much bigger fraudsters? The financiers who surround them were having their own troubles, and the journalists who exposed them were not so clean as the liked to sound".

That's what it was about last time. Come along on Monday to see how much has changed.