Author Archives: D M Day

Zoo Story – Review

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Zoo Story – Review

On Tuesday night I saw Edward Albee’s Zoo Story brought to life by Meerkat Productions as part of the Liverpool Fringe Festival.

A simple set consisting only of a park bench and some grass brought a secluded corner of Central Park into the theatre at the Casa.  Peter and Jerry muse about life, love and loss in what appears to be a friendly conversation but the different levels of the actors, Peter sitting, Jerry standing, subtly showed that Jerry had power in the situation.  The performance became increasingly uncomfortable while Jerry talked about wrestling with a black dog, a common metaphor for depression, and it seemed that Peter had become some form of hostage while Jerry’s stories rapidly became darker and more surreal.  When Jerry sits down next to Peter it seems that the tension is resolving and the sunny Sunday afternoon will end peacefully, but what happens at the zoo will not stay at the zoo.

What begins a simple stroll through the park quickly spirals into a horrifying climax that leaves the audience open mouthed and silent.  Masterfully performed by Stephen O’Toole and David Crosby Zoo Story is the captivating story of life in the urban zoo of the big city, the cages we put ourselves in and what can happen when we break down those bars.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

Franca Rame/Dario Fo Monologues: Review

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Franca Rame/Dario Fo Monologues: Review

Two actresses, two monologues, two stories, two outcomes, one struggle.

Last night Maggi Green and Mikyla Jane Durkan of Burjesta Theatre, Liverpool performed two very different monologues on the theme of the struggle of women in society.  Grotesque comedies from Italian dramatists Dario Fo and Franca Rame Rise and Shine and A Woman Alone invite you into the personal lives of two women: both obedient to their husbands, both comforting babies and both so tired and sick of everything.

Rise and Shine was skillfully performed by Maggie Green.  A stressed out mother wakes up from one nightmare straight into another one.  Relieved to find her fingers still on her hands, those hands become full as soon as her feet touch the floor.  The baby in one hand, her handbag in another and the key, where is the key?  Squeezing her way around imaginary furniture, with very few props and an invisible baby, keeping up the mime of struggling to search the small cramped house for keys while narrating her life, her husband’s life and talking to baby was done beautifully.  We never see the husband but the change in stance and expression when his dialogue was recited brought to life the domestic struggles this woman is going through.  The clock is ticking, the panic is growing, no-one is coming to help, baby’s filled his nappy, again, and the key is nowhere to be found.  The panic in this claustrophobic house with nothing in the right place was tangible.

The atmosphere grew thicker again during Mikyla Jane Durkan’s accomplished portrayal of A Woman Alone.  The stage now filled with props (this lady’s husband buys her everything) a wife has been locked up in her flat after indulging in an affair with her young Italian teacher.  She is caring for her brother-in-law, who is in a (almost) full body cast in another room with just one hand and that free for groping around and her baby who is crying of often.  Music plays in every room to stop her feeling alone, the phone constantly rings – nuisance calls, checks up from her husband and begging from her young lover – and then the banging on the door starts.  There’s so much noise!  What can you do when all you want is a quiet conversation with the new neighbour?  You need to stay calm.  Very very calm.  Bright welcoming smiles and laughter gave way to wide eyed desperation dissolving into an eerie sense of calm as a woman alone welcomed everyone back into the house and tried to regain control.

Where are the keys?  The men have them.

Burjesta Theatre are a fringe theatre company based at The Casa, Hope Street, Liverpool.  Further information can be found on their Facebook page.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

Two Thousand Yard Stare: Improv – Review

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Two Thousand Yard Stare: Improv – Review

Improv can be a dangerous thing, especially when the act is relying entirely on audience participation.  But on Monday night two man act Two Thousand Yard Stare along with guest performers Poops and Butt invited the audience to do their worst and provided an hour of completely unscripted dark surreal comedy while managing to avoid their namesake blank stare at nowhere.

The first half an hour was dedicated to the audience suggestion of “barber shop”.  Without a pair of clippers or a razor in sight a creepy barber shop with no escape was created.  The two actors obviously know each other well and know where each other’s minds are going and managed to create characters dealing with similar issues of loneliness and failure in very different ways.

The second half was dedicated to the games of Poops and Butt.  Regular audience participation was integral to this half of the show.  They started with a prison scene, taking it in turns to push the scene forward when on stage audience volunteers shouted switch.  This was followed by a garden scene where a couple preparing for the local fair insulted each other with suggestions from the audience before justifying the insults in increasingly bizarre ways.  They then created “shit” analogies, taking a list of random objects from the audience and substituting “box of chocolates” in “Life is like a box of chocolates” to create meaningful observations on the nature of life.  Finally a divorce scene played out, the estranged husband having to guess what he did to break up the marriage, what his wife wanted and who she was leaving him for.  Loud and proud with memorable lines such as “Yes I am a maggot brain because my brain cells are constantly regenerating and renewing” and “Life is like a giraffe, sooner or later you’re gonna get spots so work it“, the relationship between the actors was natural and close, their in sync nature enhancing their quick wit.

I believe both acts are relatively new and they have definite potential to make a mark on improvised theatre.  They also brought back a lot of fond memories of acting class and acting off the cuff.  My own contribution to the shit analogies: “Life is like the moon, you live it to the full then it disappears“.

Further information can be found on Two Thousand Yard Stare: Improv’s Facebook page.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

Against all Odds

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Against all Odds

This is a flash fiction based on an exercise in writing group where we wrote stories based on song titles.  I chose a song I actually don’t like very much, just because I think the title transfers over to creating a story well!

Just a word of warning, the story contains content that some people may find distressing.

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Against all Odds

Early menopause. The words had echoed in her head every day since they’d been said. She’d been 32 years old. They’d been trying for a baby for six long unsuccessful years. Early menopause were the words that shattered the last of her splintered spirit. She gave up then. Curled under the blankets naked and shivering she had nothing left in her to produce tears. He couldn’t let it go. There were still options. They could still try. He stroked her hair trying to reach her but she was gone. Robotically she began injecting herself daily. They were still trying. The injections made her sick. Every morning kneeling on the bathroom floor. For years she had longed to be sick every morning. It worked. The doctor’s smile was wide when he told them. It worked. Two months later the same doctor held her hand after the miscarriage. He was so sorry. There are still options. You can still try. She gave up hope. There are still options. We can still try. Her husband’s hand felt strong in hers. Tears were streaming from her tired eyes. The doctor said it was a boy and placed her slick crying baby on her chest. It worked. She was 34 years old. They’d been trying for a baby for eight long years but it worked. It worked.

Copyright D M Day, 2017

The Man with No Identity – Review and Interview

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The Man with No Identity – Review and Interview

Tick tick tick tick tick tick.

The sound of a clock is often cited in creative writing manuals and classes as a wonderful way to add tension.  A clock puts your characters under pressure, pushes the crucial moment to the front of your audience’s mind, is so familiar, so haunting.

The sound of a clock is nothing compared to the tension created by a Newton’s Cradle being the only sound on a stage with more props than actors.

The first sound that Edgar J Harris makes before launching into a monologue on detailing his life, his loves, his successes, his failures, is the simple ticking of a Newton’s Cradle which he smiles at enigmatically before glaring down at his audience in disdain.

Edgar J Harris is the man with no identity, the creation of local Liverpool playwright, Christopher Woodward, and an example of what can go wrong when you will do anything to have everything.

The one night show was inspired by George Bouverie Goddard’s painting The Struggle for Existence which like play is painful to look at and impossible to turn away from.  In a world of wolves where the only chance of survival is to destroy, Edgar J Harris, always referred to in full, rants about self improvement in a world that hasn’t progressed and points out that with the right information you can have anything, and everything.

Money and materials are, for Edgar, the root of all happiness.  He is better than his audience.  He is performing a role.  He is a display of money and success and, as Shakespeare said, all the world’s a stage.  He quotes the Bard’s famous monologue, taken so far away from the comedy it normally nestles in, and glances at his pocket watch, a gift from May, the love of his life, who ironically shares her name both the first month of the financial year and the beginning of summer.

May is gone and Edgar is in winter.  Time is the great enemy of all men.  His reflection is empty.  The man he sees is not the man he is.  What can he do about it now?  Surrounded by so many beautiful things, but with no identity to call his own, it seems that Edgar is irrevocably lost.

The Man with No Identity is a haunting look at one man’s struggle for existence, painfully sad and darkly funny with an ending that hits you like a brick wall.  Flawlessly performed by Bob Towers in the Casa, the show was on for one night only, but will be re-performed as part of the Liverpool Fringe Festival on 23 June.  Go see it and become lost within yourself.

Afterwards I was lucky enough to speak to Christopher Woodward about his debut show.  Follow up questions were done online:

DMD: So this is your first play.  Have you written anything else before like fiction or poetry?

CW: Never.  Never wrote until last year, when I got the dream.  So it came from a dream.

DMD: Came from a dream?

CW: Yeah.

DMD: I read in the paperwork that it’s inspired by a painting.

CW: Yeah: Bouverie Goddard’s Struggle for Existence. It’s in the Walker Art Gallery. When I had the vision of writing the play I went.  I was just wandering around the Walker Art Gallery; I like art and I came across the lovely Bouverie Goddard painting and it just spoke to me and that’s where I got the characteristics for the character.

DMD: Yeah.

CW: Yeah it’s amazing.

DMD: Yeah, I’ve done poems inspired by paintings. Are you familiar with An Experiment with an Air Pump? It’s another play inspired by a painting.

CW: No.

DMD: It’s a Newcastle play so it’s quite a nice link with the local play and the painting.

CW: Ah I see yeah.

DMD: Another parallel I noticed was Dorian Grey.

CW: Dorian Grey? Yeah, yeah, I like Dorian Grey. Oscar Wilde.

DMD: Yeah when Edgar said his reflection was empty it reminded me of him looking at the portrait.

CW: The guy who inspired me most to write was Arthur Miller. Death of a Salesmen.

DMD: View from the Bridge?

CW: View from the Bridge is fantastic.

DMD: I’ve seen on your Instagram that you’re reading Henrik Ibsen.  A Doll’s House is one of my favourite plays.  Do you prefer European or American theatre?

CW: I mainly like the American theatre like David Mamett, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams but Samuel Becket is fantastic also.  Arthur Miller is my idol.

DMD: The Man with No Identity can be seen again at the Liverpool Fringe Festival.  Is there anything else in the pipeline?

CW: Yes I’m currently working on my second play which is about the daily struggle of homelessness.

DMD: After seeing The Man with No Identity, I’m sure Christopher will do that justice!

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

GloPoWriMo: Day 28

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GloPoWriMo: Day 28

The Day 28 prompt was to write a poem using Skeltonic verse.  Skeltonic verse gets its name from John Skelton, a fifteenth-century English poet who pioneered the use of short stanzas with irregular meter, but two strong stresses per line (otherwise know as “dipodic” or “two-footed” verse).  The lines rhyme, but there’s not a rhyme scheme per se.  The poet simply rhymes against one word until he or she gets bored and moves on to another.  My poem rhymes, but the lines are probably too long and it’s probably not dipodic, but I couldn’t get shorter lines to work and meter has never been my strong point!

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Buzzy Bee

Sitting in the sun I see
A buzzing little bumblebee
Flying near a blossom tree
And coming far too close to me
Loud the buzzing of its wing
Frightened of its tail’s sting
Whose use its life’s end will bring
I think I best get back inside
For to be stung I cannot abide
And the bee must survive
If we are all to stay alive

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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GloPoWriMo: Day 27

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GloPoWriMo: Day 27

The Day 27 prompt was to write a poem that explores the sense of taste.  Many poems explore the sight or sound or feel of things and Proust famously wrote about the memories evoked by smell.  My poem could be about food, or wine, or even the oddly metallic sensation of a snowflake on your tongue.  I have written a poem about the unusual taste of Greek firewater, or raki, and the physical reaction I have to it.

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Firewater

Bitter
As a wasted life
Burning
As an inferno in summer
Metallic
Solid, cold and scraping
Pressure
Intense, growing and never ending
Shudder
Violent and easing all at once
Ευχαριστώ
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Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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