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The Play's the Thing

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Friday, June 23, 2006


I’ve seen the winning play!

Kate Betts is a talented writer; she has an ear for natural dialogue, a real warmth and some great one-liners.

When I was a kid, theatre meant panto between Christmas and New Year, a trip to the Victorian provincial theatres like Southsea, with the dress circle, red velvet seats and a safety curtain.

Sonia Friedman’s New Ambassador’s Theatre is like that, but scaled down like a doll’s house.

A pantomime dame once told me a story of removing his wig, backstage, to greet his 4 year old nephew and the little boy screaming in uncontrolled terror.

Theatre has its magic, vicious side, the tears of the clown etc, and finally we caught a glimpse of this in Kate’s final scene when Elvis and Jesus sup together.

But mainly we didn’t get it, we were given intimacy (on a big stage) and flashbacks to a childhood (like telly) and Kate’s play spoke about feelings straight into our ear (like radio).

But you should go and see On The Third Day, actors Maxine Peake and Paul Hilton are spot-on, it’s directed really well, and if Kate’s play had been produced for the fringe and transferred to the New Ambassadors, she would be riding the crest of the wave.

Don’t listen to the hand-wringing from its producer, Sonia Friedman who came out front on Monday night before the show and apologised for a new play, as if it was out of the ordinary, and the Soho Theatre didn’t put on ten new productions a year. Okay, not in West-End commercial theatre – which is saturated with musicals, complained Sonia. And why?

Musicals do what TV and radio can’t. Musicals fill those cavernous Victorian stages with great big sets, and make a great big song and dance about a great big story, possibly, perhaps, maybe…. that’s why people flock to them…

posted by Sarah Weatherall @ 3:22 pm   


At 12:18 pm, Blogger Cybez said...

Has Kate got her own website/blog? I'm interested to see how she develops as a writer.I was amazed at the amount of re-writes she had to do.Such an inspiring show and hopefully the play will make it's way around the country and over the Irish Sea too :-)

At 1:54 pm, Blogger Sarah Weatherall said...

sorry to be late replying, I will be back in touch when I've heard from C4, Sarahx

At 1:05 pm, Blogger Danny-K said...

Playwrights, screenwriters, et al should refrain from appearing on the wrong side of the camera. Caught the re-run of the above competition, this morning, (November 7th).

One of the contestants nerves got the better of him whilst being interviewed on camera.

Your worst nightmare on camera? This contestant lived it. Here he is, showing why he could be a future professional:

He said:

"I have ritted, er, writed a play - written a play!..."

Everybody's nightmare.

Mine is looking blank and forgetting everything. Lol. I think he made it to the finals though.

At 11:36 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interested very much.

Please link to this site


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Sarah Weatherall

Sarah Weatherall directed The Colonel, one of the winning dramas in Channel 4’s The Radio Play’s The Thing