I got a message this week from my friend across the pond, David Trotter with Exit Theatre in Croydon, inviting me to read the play he had written called "Richard & Trudy"- which by the way, will receive its world premier at The Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton on February 23rd to 26th 2011.
You see, Exit Theatre had produced a play I had written called "Murder Me Always" back in August of 2004, so I was more than willing to take an advanced look at David's play.
Now one thing you must understand first of all, is that my sense of humor was shaped at an early age. While my friends were giggling at the lame innuendos on "Three's Company", I was glued to "Monty Python's Flying Circus" on Public Television. While my classmates were running around the school lunch room barking "Nanoo Nanoo" from "Mork and Mindy", I was raising a chorus of "Spam, spam, spam, spam..." or "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK!"
I admit it, the dry British and somewhat absurdest sense of humor seeped into my system and stayed there. To this day I can quote lines from "Fawlty Towers", "Are You Being Served", "The Young Ones" and many others.
When I began writing plays, several influences found their way into my style. To be honest, I imagined my influences were Woody Allen and Kurt Vonnegut but I had several people tell me my humor was not very American. "What? You're from the States?" "Yep." "Well, then why are you wearing Doc Martins and drinking a bleeding Watneys Red Barrel?"
Anyway,you get the idea.
So, I received the script from David yesterday morning and thought I would glance at it for a couple of minutes before moving onto other things. Well, that didn't happen. I started reading the script and couldn't stop.
"Richard & Trudy" has a setting and tone very similar to "Fawlty Towers" in that a husband and wife team run a small run down hotel in North Devon. Right away, you can't help picturing John Cleese and Prunella Scales as Richard and Trudy, that is until you read on. Later you may be picturing Woody Harrelson and Juilette Lewis in "Natural Born Killers" -only keeping the Cleese humour intact sprinkled with a good healthy dose of sex. What? Did you say "sex"? What's all this then? Here now, I don't want to picture Basil and Sybil in flagrante delicto or engaged in anything but witty biting banter!
No, no. Calm down. There is a brief... well, 'flagrante' bit at the beginning when Trudy catches Richard (with his pants down -literally) on the couch with her best friend Samantha. And later.. well, yea, there is some "discussion" and "suggestion" but the actual "titillation" is left to your own imagination.
Oh yes, and a spot of violence. There's one bit with an axe and well.. you have to see it. But don't lose your head over that fact. Oh and keep an eye out for the scene with the knitting needle.
So, what did I think?
"Richard & Trudy" is a tightly riveted ride on a roller coaster that dips through humor, death, double crosses and sex. The journey is strewn with enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing and enough witty dialogue and slapstick visuals to create a plethora of LOLs.
So, is it because I am a huge fan of British comedy that lead me to enjoy "Richard & Trudy"? No. It's because I'm a playwright of Comedy Murder Mysteries and I know how difficult it is to walk that thin line between humor and homicide. There is a real art to murdering characters on stage and all the while killing the audience with laughter. It doesn't matter if you're British, American or Scandinavian.
I can say that David Trotter walks that line successfully with his script. He captures the oh-so-delicate "farce" timing that John Cleese and Connie Booth established in "Fawlty Towers' with mistaken identities and slamming doors and then takes it up a notch by blending a touch of sex and violence in the mix.
So, yes. There it is. I thoroughly enjoyed "Richard & Judy" and am very grateful that I was chosen to read it. The only thing I didn't like is... well, that I didn't write it. That and I probably won't get to see it when it opens at The Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton on February 23rd to 26th 2011. It's much too far to drive. Oh yea, and Cheers!