Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Magna Carta

We here at Player-Playwrights like to get our celebrations in early. While the world and his wife will be remembering the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta next year, we've decided to kick things off next week.

Ahead of the zeitgeist, that's us. So on November 24th, that's the theme of the competition.

7.30 at the North London Tavern. Usual rules apply.


Peter Thompson writes:

We decided to get in ahead of the surge of 2015 programmes on Magna Carta by making it the subject of our autumn play-writing competition on 24 November 2014.  We had ten little plays, two of which were set in 1215.   Of these Sian Williams entered and later withdrew PRINCESS JOAN WANTS TO COME HOME about King John’s sad domestic life after signing the dreaded MC.  We will never know what mark it would have scored.  The same goes for John Morrison’s much more modern KNIGHTS IN RUSTY ARMOUR in which the Coalition government decided to outdo UKIP with the Magna Carta (Reintroduction) Bill which received its First Reading in the rain on Runnymede Island, with the front bench clad in armour borrowed from the National Theatre costume department. So much laughter that it over-ran by a minute and a half and had to be disqualified.
We had another Parliamentary excursion, THE LAST MP by Peter Thompson, with a Bill to abolish the House of Commons.  Not so funny but within the rules, scoring 176 points to come fourth and provoke a gradely performance by Chris Prior as the Hon Member for Batley Pithead.  Philip Mison’s LAND OF THE FREE, set in 1215, came eighth (164 points) and was marked down because there were no female characters, although Katy Steel looked very good as a well-breeched young knight-at-arms. Peter Vincent’s A PAIR OF PINK SOCKS took us to St Mary Mead where Miss Marple solved the mystery of the stolen Magna Carta in under 10 minutes but still could not find a suitable recipient for the pink socks she was knitting: seventh with 165 and just below another Philip Marlowe mystery by Bill Gordon: DESK BOUND.  Magna Carta? Oh yes, that’s the title of the Private Detectives’ Code of Best Practice: 6th with 169.  Debbie Maya earned 172 points with a modern replay of the baronial confrontation, in which JOHN LACKLAND lost his land to his feisty French wife, Isabella, and lost his wife to Tony Diggle, who when not chauffeuring the couple around the M25 was engaged with Isabella in hiding the purple Bentley [What was all that about? Ed].
Into the home straight with heart-warming stories from our women playwrights.  Lynne O’Sullivan’s THAT’S HISTORY focused on a turning point in Anthea’s marriage to Christopher, a boring historian, on the day when they went to Runnymede for him to give a badly received talk about you-know-what to the local school, while she went on the river with the hotelier.  As so often in life it all turned out better than feared and put Lynne in third place with 177.  Above her, in second place was WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? about a  lengthy prenuptial contract [Maxima carta?] that Mickey and Minnie were being urged to sign by someone called Walt: yes, it was a Mickey Mouse contract!  Some way ahead of the rest was Mary Conway’s charming tale about Mr Patel’s pathetic trust in Magna Carta to back his fundamental right to lie down on the Clearway to force motorists to visit his once popular Mini-mart.  Mrs Mcready was his last customer, an endearing performance by Elizabeth Trueblood, who regularly crossed the Clearway at 4.15 for some milk, a sponge cake and a packet of suppositories.  Phil Philmar gave us a beautifully modulated Mr Patel and starred in almost every other play. Mention should also be made of two young actresses with us for the first time: Holly Jackson, as Krysztina the Hungarian cleaner, who warned the Prime Minister against letting those Romanians in; and Rebecca Kenny whose Allo Allo performance as Isabella was totally amazeballs and just right for a purple Bentley.
Natasha Staples, as Competition Casting Secretary, coped superbly with every kind of mishap, including missing scripts, revised scripts and cross-dressing actresses and came through to give us an inspiring evening of new writing and lots of laughter.  Many thanks to you all.

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