The Man with No Identity – Review and Interview

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

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!


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


GloPoWriMo: Day 27

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.




As a wasted life
As an inferno in summer
Solid, cold and scraping
Intense, growing and never ending
Violent and easing all at once
Ελπίζουμε να απολαύσετε την επίσκεψή σας

Copyright, D M Day, 2017


GloPoWriMo: Day 26

GloPoWriMo: Day 26

The Day 26 prompt was to write a poetic answer to the question of what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilisation, would make of humans.  The poem should explore a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist.  The object or site of study could be anything from a “World’s Best Grandpa” coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone.  I have written the thoughts a member of an alien race might have while studying the artwork we have produced across the ages.



Artwork on Planet 24684, Uninhabited

The earliest examples
Are scratches and smudges
On the planet’s rocky surfaces
Fairly consistent
Two legged creatures
Thought to be the dominant species
Throwing sharpened sticks into four legged creatures

Other ancient examples include
Elaborate colourful images
Within buildings, often triangular
The two legged creatures in more detail
Many with heads similar to the four legged creatures
With bodies mostly covered in cloth
And complex groups of symbols
Possibly some form of primitive record keeping
To be studied further by an expert
In the Alien Savage Communications Department

Later works are large solid woven fabric boards
Covered in a thick oily substance
Which appears to have been applied in liquid form
With a heavily textured device
Images include this planet, or others
Though the dominant species appears too primitive for travel
And many instances of the two legged creatures
Again with bodies mostly covered in cloth

The most modern examples we have found
Are thin flimsy images printed on plant material
High quality shiny pictures, similar content to the above
But far superior in quality
We are unsure how these were produced
But dating shows that the last ones
Were created approximately fifty years
Before the annihilation of the dominant species
Which the Alien Savage History Department
Believes to have been self inflicted

Copyright, D M Day, 2017


GloPoWriMo: Day 25

GloPoWriMo: Day 25

The Day 25 prompt was to write a poem inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 book, The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces – the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. The poem should explore a small, defined space – it could be your my childhood bedroom, or the box where I keep old photos, the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand.  Any space would do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to me.  I have written a poem dedicated to my Nanna and her love of collecting trinkets and knick-knacks which has left many tiny, but not very many large, spaces all around her house.

No Space Left

A young couple
In all their finery
Gaze at each other
Ready to dance

A kangaroo
Lays relaxing
While a bemused Friar Tuck
Looks on

Clowns grin
The cavalier laughs
Family members smile
In wedding dresses and
School uniforms

While my Nanna desperately
Empties her overflowing handbag
Onto a tiny empty space on the floor

It has to be somewhere
She put it somewhere safe
Everything has to be somewhere
Somewhere in its own tiny little space

Copyright, D M Day, 2017


More Scouse Saddam?: Review

More Scouse Saddam?: Review

Six weeks’ work, a ton of money and the cheapest beer you’ve ever had.  All you have to do is paint Saddam Hussein’s palace and get home in time for double egg and chips.

Tonight I saw Sad Ham Productions’ More Scouse Saddam? which tells the story of a bunch of Liverpool lads who pop over to Baghdad on a decorating job.  Unfortunately during their visit Iraq invade Kuwait, war is declared and they become hostages in an instant.  Based on the true story of Dave Thelwell and his friends, More Scouse Saddam? is by turns hilariously funny and tragically poignant.  The first half is haunted by the constant but silent and invisible presence of Saddam as the lads, and their wives back home in Liverpool, become increasingly unnerved by their situation.  The second half is cleverly added to with retro TV sequences specially produced for the show projected onto the back of the stage.

Add to that the 90s clothing that no-one will admit they wore but definitely did, some epic dance moves and a couple of southerners traumatised far more by their encounter with the Liverpudlians than the Iraqi dictator and his staff, and you get a wonderfully heartbreaking comedy about ordinary people going about their ordinary lives thrown into an extraordinary situation, in a place as sunny and sandy as New Brighton, but a little bit further over the water.

Brilliantly acted, there isn’t a single cast member that can be singled out, though Saddam himself is extra special for reasons you’ll have to see it to find out.

More Scouse Saddam? can be seen again tomorrow at 7.30pm at The Casa, Liverpool priced at £10 or £8 for concessions.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

GloPoWriMo: Day 24

GloPoWriMo: Day 24

The Day 24 prompt was to write a poem of ekphrasis – that is, a poem inspired by a work of art.  The prompt was to base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts.   Rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, birds wearing snail shells.  It might have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun!  I have chosen this picture of two men playing backgammon with similar (but not identical) illustrations above them.



Best out of Three

Best out of three you said

Yes but, can’t we just do
Best out of five
It’s much the same thing

You lost
Accept it

But, but, best out of five
Come on

Don’t be infuriating
My design is better
It’s shield shaped for one
Which is better to hide behind
The legs on yours are spindly
My red background is fierce
And, I have the crown
So I make the decisions

How about
One more game
Winner takes all
What do you say?

Copyright, D M Day, 2017