5 Stars for our Camden Fringe 2016 Production!

views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Upstairs at the Gatehouse
27th August 2016


Photography provided by the Camden Fringe

Blink, written by Phil Porter and directed by Jem Turner, Rob Hall and Tara Lacey, is one of the Camden Fringe’s hidden gems. A beautiful portrayal of love, loss, and life, touchingly bound together by the simple, everyday moments we all take for granted but which take on huge significance for protagonists Sophie (Lacey) and Jonah (Hall).

Sophie lives in Leytonstone. Until recently everything was going great. She lived on the top-floor flat of the house owned by her beloved father, while her father lived below. They shared the garden. She had a job in account management and led a simple but pleasant existence. Then everything changed. Her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died a few months later and just after the funeral she was made redundant (the only person on her team, chosen for the bizarre reason of lack of visibility even when present). Jonah also lives in Leytonstone, in the downstairs flat that was once occupied by Sophie’s father. He isn’t from the big city though. He grew up in a religious commune, isolated from the real world. When his mother died from pancreatic cancer he discovered a letter from her, instructing him to find the money she had buried in the garden and to escape the confines of the commune. Though ill-prepared socially, he dutifully followed her instructions. He ends up in Leytonstone by pure chance: when he offered a tissue to a bleeding man at the train station, the man informed him that Leytonstone is the best place to live in London.

Both characters are socially awkward, grieving, and confused about their place in society. Sophie, puzzled by the visibility comment made at her redundancy, lonely, and isolated, is desperate for a little attention. Although Jonah, who is clearly on the autistic spectrum, doesn’t know how to behave outside the commune, he is curious to find out. Like Sophie, he is terribly alone, however finds some comfort in caring for the sick fox Scruffilitis who visits the garden every day. Then Sophie, touched by Jonah’s behaviour towards Scruffilitis and reminded of her father in the garden, suddenly concocts an extraordinary and somewhat ridiculous plan which leads to Jonah consensually stalking her. We follow both characters as they go through the motions of everyday life, separate and yet together, taking pleasure in the small things, a TV drama for example. However this bizarre period of happiness soon comes to an abrupt end and Sophie and Jonah have to confess their actions and face the future.

This heart-rending production had me in tears. While Sophie and Jonah have what is possibly the most dysfunctional relationship on the planet, you can’t help but root for them. Porter’s touching descriptions of their daily, often banal activities combined with superb performances from both Lacey and Hall result in a show that is raw, real and utterly brilliant.

The simple set design from Chris Alcock also deserves a mention and supports the story wonderfully. Two tables are cleverly used to divide the space into flats. Yet when required, these tables also seamlessly become a hospital bed or a cosy bed under the stars. A series of objects dotted around the room illustrate the characters’ lives: wellington boots, a shovel, a camera, a pile of cardboard boxes stacked in the corner – basic objects with huge importance for Sophie and Jonah. In the background a screen draped by curtains is in central focus, with white cut-outs of London at either side. The screen is used at various points throughout the production, for example to show the words in the letter from Jonah’s mother, and adds a nice touch.

Blink is a beautiful, poignant and often humorous tale which will engage you from the start. It’s a shame it only has such a short run at the Camden Fringe and I can’t wait to see what Peppered Wit Productions do next.

Blink opened on 25th August and runs until 28th August 2016 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Highgate (Northern)

Blink by Phil Porter

Peppered Wit Productions present

BLINK blink_poster

by Phil Porter

‘This is a true story…our love story’ Jonah tells us but the course of true love never did run smooth and anyway, is your ‘happy ending’ mine too?

Unconventional, quirky and voyeuristic, this funny, delicate love story cleverly weaves themes of loneliness, bereavement and consensual stalking (!) into the intimate and engaging story of Jonah, Sophie and a fox called Scruffilitis.

Sophie, vulnerable and raw from the loss of her father to pancreatic cancer, craves visibility whilst Jonah, sheltered and fresh from a religious commune, having lost his mother to the same disease, wants to find out what ‘life on the outside’ is really about. They find each other in Leytonstone. Their ensuing relationship is dysfunctional, darkly funny and unexpected – in more ways that one!

Peppered Wit Productions return to the Camden Fringe Festival. Impressing audiences with their 2013 production of ‘The Collector’ by Mark Healy at Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre, this slick, tight-knit company received a deserved four-star review from the popular Everything-Theatre, describing their intense, psychological thriller as ‘chilling and thought-provoking….my favourite piece so far at this year’s Camden Fringe’.

With a creative and fluid approach to set, sound and lighting, the Peppered Wit team of Tara Lacey, Rob Hall, Jem Turner and Nick Wilson work collaboratively on all aspects of the staging. Creating a multi-functional set has been a challenge but one which the team has relished as they look forward to the show.banner2

Having worked together on many productions for other companies – including ‘Brassed Off’ for Banbury Cross Players in collaboration with Hook Norton Brass Band (where the quartet first met!), Peppered Wit have previously taken fringe theatre to Edinburgh (2012) and Camden (2013). Their last creative foray together was a series of Christmas Dickensian Dinner Shows with seventeen well-loved characters played by four and a half actors, Victorian underscoring and spooky sound-effects a-plenty!

Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London, N6 4BD

Performances:        Thurs 25 August, 7.30pm

                                   Fri 26 August, 9.15pm

                                   Sat 27 August, 7.30pm

                                   Sun 28 August, 7.30pm

Tickets £12/£10 available online from http://www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com

or from the Box Office on 0208 340 3488

Press contact: Rob Hall

telephone: 07713348640

email: rob@pepperedwit.co.uk


A big thank you!

We have had over 60 submissions of new writing so thank you to all the authors who have sent us their work. We are in the process of reading each play and will reply to everybody with our thoughts. We have already read some excellent plays and the standard is extremely high!

Call for new writing!

Are you an author?

Peppered Wit are looking for new and challenging material for 2015 for performance at the Fringe Festivals and theatre tours.

We are looking for something edgy that will challenge audiences and actors alike!

If you have something you’d like us to read then please send it to tara@pepperedwit.co.uk and we’ll be straight back to you.