Victorian and gay, an Another Soup production brings good natured Christmas cheer to whatever times one could be living this holiday season.
The venue, a Victorian living room complete with water and brandy bottles invites one to have a seat, partake of wine, beer or other spirits and be entertained by a group of jolly ladies and gentlemen bent on telling their stories with wit and style.
The ladies seem to be quite fond of one another and it becomes clear later on why it is so. It is a pleasure to this viewer's eye to see two women in such tender embrace.
The men are clever and equally charming in their rendition of various known and not so commonly known Christmas tales.
A special mention to the maid character - she is by far the most rambunctious.
Have a glass of wine. By golly, have two if you must, and see this play.
I accept thank you letters at this address.
Planeteer Anna spoke to Dave who directed Victorian and Gay.
Anna: This is Anna for Planet London and we're here together with Dave and we're talking about his fantastic play that he's directing and that is -
Dave: Victorian&Gay at The Hope Theatre coming the 8th of December till the 31st.
Anna: Great, so Dave, Victorian&Gay to me, sounds like a project where you want to put together the most moralistic time and the most liberal time, was that your intention?
Dave: Basically the way the play originated was from two characters that grew out of one of our first pieces with was Indoor site specific promenade performance of “Sweeney Todd and a string of Pearls”, which was a musical version of the Sweeney Todd story and the two characters in there, ladies Griselda and the lady Emmentrude they have a hidden past and we've really taken them onboard and we've developed them into new characters. So they are closeted and living this high society life and they're kind of on the verge of destitution and so they've invited a lot of the neighboring locals and all the shopkeepers around to their Victorian parlour for a Christmas Extravaganza party – just a general, kind of boozy time. So yes, it is very much based on the idea that the Victorians are very strict but then they have this deep underbelly of complete disgusting rituals and horrendous pornography and all of that. It's not so overtly lewd or anything but it is very much a challenging in a way that the British at least think of Victorians as these very uptight people, I guess.
Anna: Ok, so challenging stereotypes. That's wonderful. I love that. What's the motivation behind directing this play?
Dave: I've always wanted to do a Christmas show and whenever anyone thinks of Christmas shows they think of Pan Tau and that kind of very kids-based theatre entertainment and I really wanted to do something that was a little more adult, slightly cleverer. In contrast to all the other pieces that we've done with my theatre company, I haven't actually written this one or had any part in writing it. It's been the two actresses who are playing Griselda and Emmentrude, the main characters who wrote it, based on the original characters that I developed, years ago. I think that we wanted to do a play about contemporary issues but couched in a very historical way - the Victorians invented Christmas.
We're reacting against – there's trend in gay and queer theatre to be very overtly about gay struggle and queer struggle, whereas I think it's actually fine to have a show that happens to have non-straight characters just doing their daily lives. We're trying not to fulfill that stereotype which I've seen in so much great theatre. It really annoys me that that means it's not mainstream because it has to be like that, if that makes sense. We're trying to make a really good, fun, historical Christmas show that happens to have two lesbians in it.
Anna: Fantastic. I love the idea of lesbians going mainstream. What was collaboration like? What was it like to have characters that you ideated and having someone else writing them? Was that challenging at all?
Dave: I think the two actresses are good artists and we all know how each other works and we all work really closely and kind of have shorthand where we just say something and it doesn't mean anything to anyone else but to us it's very logical and it's a progression of thought. And so it was really interesting to give free reign over these two characters to these two actresses, Steffie and Bethanie. They were the first people who ever played those characters anyway and they know them so well and really aided in their progression and character development from the outset. Of all the people, they will know them better even than me because I haven't spent any time in writing those characters in the few years that kind of preceded this, I've put them to bed and left them there and now they've been kind of uncovered for this production. It's been quite easy. We've got a really small production team and at times things are very stressful and hectic. But we work really well together, so it's been a good collaborative process.
Anna: What do you wish for people to take away from this play?
Dave: I think there are so many Christmas shows that just disparage the festive season and I love Christmas and I don't understand why that is a phenomenon. So what I want people to go away from this show feeling is – I've had a fun, festive time and I'm really excited for Christmas. People leaving feeling warm and a little bit happy about the Christmas that's coming. Maybe they have problems elsewhere and for an hour and a half they'll feel really great about the whole thing.
Anna: And I hear that drinking is encouraged.
Dave: Of course it is, it's a Christmas show – all the characters in the show are basically functioning alcoholics and they are drinking a lot during the show anyway so it'd be a shame if the audience didn't. Not that you have to to enjoy it, but if you want to, please do.
Anna: Ok Dave, I really look forward to seeing the show – thank you so much!