4 Jul 2015

Support the Together in Electric Dreams Crowdfunder - EXCLUSIVE VIDEO!

Matthew O'Neill (Alan Sugar, far left) and Daniel Thackeray (Sir Clive Sinclair, far right)
meet Crowdfunder contributors Paul Mallinson (with programme) and Michael Rumney at Oldham Library
Photo: John Finbarr Whittaker

On June 26th Scytheplays Ltd launched a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to help cover the costs of the current tour of Together in Electric Dreams - an initial target of £300 to cover the cost of hiring venues and registering with festivals, and a stretch target of £600 to cover publicity and travel expenses.  If these targets are met, it means that the cast and crew will be able to share the money from the ticket sales as reward for all their hard work.

The Together in Electric Dreams team have been humbled and delighted by the support shown for the campaign in the week since it began.  Thanks to the generosity of many supporters, the initial target has already been met.  The project now needs a further £250 to meet its stretch target.

To everyone who has pledged so far, Gareth, Mat, Dan, Jess, Steve, Pete and Paul give you their heartfelt thanks.  The response has been wonderful and astonishing, and it's very touching to us that so many of you find our production worthy of your support.

The Crowdfunder campaign offers a variety of unique and fun rewards to backers depending on how much they pledge, ranging from signed programmes to the chance to take tea with the show's lead actors in Buxton.  Paul Mallinson - pictured above - chose to pledge to have his name featured in the play itself, and as the photo above shows, was thrilled with the results when he saw the show at Oldham Library this week (in a delightfully English, reserved way)!

If you're a fan of Together in Electric Dreams and Scytheplays, please support the show by sharing the link to the Crowdfunder, spreading the word, and coming to see us if you can.

Click on the link to see an extended version of the specially-filmed Crowdfunder video (not available on the Crowdfunder site), featuring Daniel Thackeray as Sir Clive and Matthew O'Neill as Alan.  (Apologies, however, for the poor sound quality, due to weather, in some of the extended sequences - which is partly why we ultimately cut them from the main video.)

The tour is now underway, with near-sell-out audiences for the first performances in Dobcross and Oldham, and a very encouraging critical response from the Oldham Chronicle and the Public Reviews.

The next performance is at 10pm at Pauper's Pit (Underground Venues), Buxton on Thursday July 9th.  Booking details for this and the subsequent performances are in the previous blog post.

21 Jun 2015

Together in Electric Dreams 2015 tour about to begin!

Sugar faced with Sinclair - the company, that is!  Alan (Matthew O'Neill) returns to Northern stages soon
With the North West mini tour of Together in Electric Dreams due to begin on Wednesday 1st July, Scytheplays have created a new trailer for the show, which can be viewed via YouTube here.

Further to our previous post, booking information for all of the performances can now be confirmed as listed below (please note the Oldham Libraray performance begins at 7pm - NOT 7.30pm  as previously publicised):

Wednesday 1st July - The Swan, Dobcross, Saddleworth, 8pm (tickets bookable here)

Thursday 2nd July - Oldham Library Performance Space, Oldham, 7pm (book via Oldham Coliseum Box Office on 0161 624 2829)

Thursday 9th July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 10pm (tickets bookable here)

Tuesday 14th July - The Albert Square Chop House, Manchester, 6pm and 8pm (tickets bookable here)

Thursday 16th July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 10pm (tickets bookable here)

Sunday 19th July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 1.15pm (tickets bookable here)

Wednesday 22nd July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 1.15pm (tickets bookable here)

Steve Cain with fellow Electric Dreams cast member Jess Lee (far right) and Kaylea Simon
in The Ray Hayyhausen Skeleton Orchestra

We would also like to take the opportunity to welcome to the production Steve Cain, who will be playing the role of Alan Sugar for the 16th July performance, and also playing understudy to Matthew O'Neill throughout the rest of the run.  Steve is a distinguished actor whose CV includes memorable roles in Lass Productions' The Best and who recently played Orson Welles in Organised Chaos Productions' Midwinter Ignition 2015: The Soothsayer.  During July, Steve will also be appearing in Hat Hair Productions' Dylan Thomas update, Under Manc Wood, at the King's Arms, Salford on the 7th, 8th and 13th (more information here). The production is directed by regular Scytheplays collaborator Ross Kelly.

Finally, Scytheplays Ltd now has an offical Twitter handle @ScytheplaysLtd, so please follow us!

4 May 2015

Together in Electric Dreams - on the road this July!

Scytheplays Ltd and Lass Productions are delighted to announce that their collaboration Together in Electric Dreams is to return for the fourth year in a row, this time touring a number of locations in the North West for eight performances during July as part of both the Greater Manchester and Buxton Fringe festivals.

Written by Daniel Thackeray from an idea by Gareth Kavanagh, the acclaimed comedy drama play is inspired by a remarkable true story. In 1983 computing pioneer Clive Sinclair was knighted for his services to the British electronics industry, but following a number of disastrous new products such as the infamous C5 electric car, by 1986 his company Sinclair Electronics was facing bankruptcy. Meanwhile the industry's new leading figure had arisen: a former East End trader named Alan Sugar, with his company Amstrad. The only hope for Sir Clive now is that he can negotiate a rescue deal with his arch-rival over dinner in Sugar's chosen venue - a Japanese karaoke restaurant.

Glowing with nostalgia for the music and technology of the 1980s, Together in Electric Dreams charts a comic and poignant encounter between two very different businessmen, as the gentlemanly Sir Clive must navigate the hostile waters of East End pragmatism and Eastern cuisine in a desperate bid to save his company. The Manchester Evening News praised the play's original production in 2012, and it has been a big success with critics and audiences ever since ("will leave you with a song in your heart" said the Fiction Stroker; "a brilliant sense of fun and intrigue" said The Public Reviews' Tracey Lowe). Last year it played to a delighted crowd at Blackpool's Play Expo Retro Gaming convention (you can see a video of the ersatz Alan and Sir Clive, in his C5 no less, investigating the rest of the convention here).

The show will be reuniting a tried and tested team with Matthew O'Neill playing Alan and Daniel Thackeray Sir Clive, as in all previous stagings. The Ray Harryhausen Skeleton Orchestra actor and playwright of 2013's Buxton Fringe hit Diabetic Penguins, Jess Lee, will play waitress Akiko, as she has since 2013. Scytheplays stalwart Peter M George will also be handling technical duties once again.

The Together in Electric Dreams team at last year's Play Expo in Blackpool:
(clockwise L-R) producer Gareth Kavanagh, Jess Lee (Akiko), Matthew O'Neill (Alan)
and in the C5, technician Peter M George sitting on Daniel Thackeray (Sir Clive).
Photo: Sara Thornton

The full programme of performances will be as follows:

Wednesday 1st July - The Swan, Dobcross, Saddleworth, 8pm (tickets bookable here)

Thursday 2nd July - Oldham Library Performance Space, Oldham, 7.30pm (booking information coming soon)

Thursday 9th July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 10pm (booking information coming soon)

Tuesday 14th July - The Albert Square Chop House, Manchester, 6pm and 8pm (tickets bookable here)

Thursday 16th July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 10pm (booking information coming soon)

Sunday 19th July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 1.15pm (booking information coming soon)

Sunday 22nd July - The Pauper's Pit, Buxton, 1.15pm (booking information coming soon)

The Saddleworth and Manchester performances are part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. The Buxton performances are part of the Buxton Festival Fringe and are produced with the cooperation of Underground Venues and Three's Company. Both festivals are packed with other exciting events and their full programmes are well worth checking out!

After a quiet year or so, Scytheplays Ltd are delighted to be returning to action... and hope to announce more projects later this year!

13 Nov 2013

Who @ 50

Poster for Who @ 50, created by Colin Brockhurst

From 17th-30th November Manchester will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the BBC's beloved science fiction series Doctor Who with its very own Who @ 50 fringe festival, comprising screenings, performances, interview panels and other entertainments in a number of venues across the city centre. Scytheplays. in association with Lass Productions, is excited to be able to contribute to proceedings by producing two live stage adaptations of two of the series' earliest adventures.

Phil Dennison as the First Doctor.
When the Doctor was a young man, he was an old man...
Photo by Andrew Greenland, with lighting and design by Peter Michael George and Paul Anderton

An Unearthly Child by Anthony Coburn was the first ever episode of Doctor Who, broadcast on 23rd November 1963, and the Scytheplays team, working from original BBC camera scripts, have adapted it to be staged in Manchester's Fab Cafe on the 17th, 18th, 19th and the anniversary itself, 23rd November 2013.  Popular fringe actor Phil Dennison (Lass Productions' Porridge and Hot Fat), working with Scytheplays for the fourth time (after The Ballad of Halo Jones, The Year of the Sex Olympics and V for Vendetta) plays the first ever incarnation of the Doctor, as originally played by William Hartnell.  Laura Plows, recently seen as Eden Page in Scytheplays' Hotel Midnight, plays Barbara Wright, while Ian Chesterton is played by Edward Barry and Susan Foreman, the Doctor's grand-daughter, by Jess Heaps.

Following An Unearthly Child the same team will mount a production of another of the series' earliest adventures, 1964's The Edge of Destruction by David Whittaker, again performing at Fab Cafe on the 23rd, 24th and 25th November.

Poster art for An Unearthly Child & The Edge of Destruction
Designed by Colin Brockhurst

Tickets are £4 on the door, or £7.50 on the 23rd (which will be a double-bill performance of both An Unearthly Child and The Edge of Destruction), and can be booked in advance via WeGotTickets.com at the below links.

An Unearthly Child: Sunday November 17th, 5.30pm
An Unearthly Child: Sunday November 17th, 7pm
An Unearthly Child: Monday November 18th, 7pm
An Unearthly Child: Tuesday November 19th, 7pm

Double-bill: Saturday November 23rd, 2pm

The Edge of Destruction: Sunday November 24th, 3pm
The Edge of Destruction: Monday November 25th, 7pm

Please note: These are not-for-profit performances and all money raised will be donated to the Alzheimer's Society, in recognition of the ailment tragically suffered, towards the end of his life, by William Hartnell.  The performances are produced by Gareth Kavanagh and Terry Naylor, designed by Terry Naylor and directed by Daniel Thackeray.

Other events in Who @ 50 will include: Adventures in Time and Space: 50 Years in 50 Rels, a new comedy play by Ian Winterton which has the ambitious aim of compressing the whole history of Who into one hour; special screenings of the seminal William Hartnell film This Sporting Life, the behind-the-scenes drama An Adventure in Space and Time and the Doctor Who Fiftieth Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor; Doctor Who-themed performances by the Comedy Sportz UK Improv Troupe, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, comedy open mic night Wet Feet, and performance poet Rod Tame; and interview panels with Doctor Who comic artists Adrian Salmon and Martin Geraghty; Who and Coronation Street producer Phil Collinson; and the programme's first-ever director, the legendary Waris Hussein, who will be present for the first performance of An Unearthly Child, having directed the original version in 1963.

For booking links and details for all the events in the festival, go to www.WeGotTickets.com and search under "Who At Fifty".

30 Oct 2013

Horror fringe success - catch them while you can! (Extra performance added for Count Magnus!)

Tomorrow is Halloween night - which as well as the glorious Pagan festival of Samhain also means, sadly, the end of the first Greater Manchester Horror Fringe Festival.  It has been a short but fun run, and the reactions from critics and audiences suggest that these productions have filled the niche for eerie and horrific entertainment left by barren TV and cinema schedules (along with Manchester's own excellent Grimmfest from earlier in the month).

Simon Clark's Hotel Midnight has been running at the Lass O'Gowrie since Monday and there are two final performances, tonight and then on Halloween itself, both at 7.30pm.  The reviews have been good and the Salmon Room is very limited for space, so if you want to see it, book now!  Links below:

Hotel Midnight - Wednesday 30th - full price
Hotel Midnight - Wednesday 30th - concessionary
Hotel Midnight - Thursday 31st - full price
Hotel Midnight - Thursday 31st - concessionary

The Fiction Stroker review
The Good Review, er, review

Meanwhile the one-man show of Count Magnus enjoyed several performances last week, and comments from audience members included: "compelling", "brilliant", "really interesting" and, from the Fiction Stroker, "a highlight of the fringe so far".  You can read his review of this show and the Centurion preview here; meanwhile, one extra performance of Count Magnus has been added at 6.30pm on Halloween.  Booking links for both shows are below.

Count Magnus Thursday 31st - 6.30pm
Count Magnus Thursday 31st - 8pm

Finally, although the run of Centurion is over, the show (starring Adam Beresford, Tom Reed-Goodehall and Lily Shepherd, above in Andrew Greenland's photo), was a popular success at Fab Cafe.  The Fiction Stroker's review above was of the incomplete preview, but the finished show gained excellent notices from Starburst and The Good Review.  Well done to director Paul Anderton and the team!

V for Vendetta - ready to hit Oldham!

Lass Productions and Scytheplays' V for Vendetta - the stage adaptation of the classic and hugely popular graphic novel by Alan (Watchmen) Moore and David Lloyd - is coming to Oldham for a special Bonfire Night promenade performance at the cult cellar bar, Jackson's Pit, having just been a huge hit at the first-ever Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Sinead Parker stars as Evey Hammond

V for Vendetta's Lakes performance went down very well on October 19th, packing out Kendal College's The Box Theatre with an enthusiastic and thrilled crowd.  It was a wonderful experience for the company, with Kendal College's staff and volunteers looking after us and never failing in their energy and enthusiasm. And it was heartening, and an honour, for all of us to be part of the inaugural Comic Art Festival, and to see it all go so well!  Above are two photos from the performance taken by Elspeth Mary Moore.

The Jackson's Pit performance - which, in a first for this production, will be done in promenade to take full advantage of the unique venue - will begin at 7.30pm on Tuesday November 5th.  It features the same acclaimed cast as the Kendal production, including Sinead Parker, fresh from her hit Edinburgh Fringe comedy show Norris and Parker: All Our Friends Are Dead, as Evey Hammond; and several of the cast have links with Oldham already, including Daniel Thackeray and Michael Whittaker (recently seen at the Oldham Coliseum in A Lot Of It About and Romeo and Juliet respectively) as V and Dominic Stone; and local actress and writer Carly Tarett (Princess Dee: The Diana Story Retold) as Dr Delia Surridge.

Above is Jake Geen's poster art, and you can book tickets for the performance at the links below (subject to booking fees):

Full price
Concessionary price

You can see a trailer for the production via YouTube here and read a review of the original Manchester production here.

We regret to announce, however, that the planned 7th November performance at The Oakwood, Glossop has had to be cancelled due to logistical difficulties.  So the Jackson's performance will be the last chance to see V for a little while!

24 Oct 2013

The Greater Manchester Horror Fringe - well underway!

Hotel Midnight: Humpty's Bones.  Photo by Jez Smith
The Greater Manchester Horror Fringe is now well underway, with preview performances of Centurion and Count Magnus having taken place, and further performances scheduled for over the weekend and into next week.  The first Bloomin' Hell Ghost Tour at the King's Arms (book here) has also been held tonight and another is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday 25th October (two tours, at 8pm and 9.30pm).

Above is a scene from Centurion, Baz Greenland's science fiction ghost story which has been spectacularly realised by director Paul Anderton at Fab Cafe.  (L-R) Scytheplays regulars Tom Reed-Goodehall (Wine of India) and Adam Beresford (The Ballad of Halo Jones) are joined by Lily Shepherd (Scarlett Fever, There's Only One Man... United) as the small crew of the scout ship Venture, investigating the possibility of establishing a colony on a distant planet - a planet which may not be as lifeless as it seems... 

Rick (Tom Reed-Goodehall) alone aboard the Venture - or is he...?
After a successful preview on Tuesday, the play will be performing at Fab Cafe on Saturday 26th October (1pm), Sunday 27th (3.30pm and 7pm) and Monday 28th (7.30pm).  For door prices and direct booking links via WeGotTickets go to this blog entry.  The production design and lighting in the pictures above is by Peter M George, the photography by Andrew Greenland.

Howard Whittock.  Photo by Shay Rowan
Howard Whittock's one-man performance of MR James' classic ghost story Count Magnus also previewed to a delighted audience at Town Hall Tavern last night.  Further performances will take place on Friday 25th (6.30pm and 7.30pm), Saturday 26th (7.45pm and 8.45pm) and Thursday 31st (6.30pm and 8pm), and direct booking links via WeGotTickets can be found at this blog entry.

However, we unfortunately have to announce that the production The Hag, originally scheduled to run alongside Count Magnus at Town Hall Tavern, has been cancelled due to unforeseen difficulties. Customers who have pre-booked tickets will receive refunds.

Tracy Gabbitas, Laura Plows and Sean Croke in Humpty's Bones, part of Hotel Midnight.  Photo by Jez Smith
Meanwhile, terrifying horror anthology Hotel Midnight inches closer to its debut performance at the Lass O'Gowrie this coming Monday (28th October, running nightly at 7.30pm until Halloween).  Simon Clark, acclaimed author of the original short stories on which the play is based, visited rehearsals in Salford this week to meet several members of the cast and crew as they worked on the stories Swallowing a Dirty Seed, They Will Not Rest and Humpty's Bones.

Simon Clark discussing They Will Not Rest with actors Carmen Dooley and Taran Knight
Photo by Andrew Greenland
Additional cast and crew for Hotel Midnight can now be announced.  Joining director Sean Mason and actors Laura Plows, Tracy Gabbitas and Sean Croke in Humpty's Bones will be Terry Naylor, returning to Scytheplays for the first time since playing several roles in the original The Ballad of Halo Jones, having recently returned from a new tour of Eric Northey's acclaimed Telling Lives.  Meanwhile Swallowing a Dirty Seed and They Will Not Rest will be directed by fellow Halo Jones actor Richard (Benjamin) Patterson in his first production as director since last year's Harvey.  The cast includes Andrew Marsden, Solaya Sang, Amir Rahimzadeh (Lass Productions' Blade Runner), Taran Knight (Wine of India) and Carmen Dooley.  Welcoming you to the place of ill-repute that is Hotel Midnight will be Sean Mason as the Concierge.

Photo by Andrew Greenland
Pictured above are several of the Hotel Midnight team in terrified and terrifying mode: (L-R) Simon Clark, Tracy Gabbitas, Sean Mason, Laura Plows, Andrew Marsden, Taran Knight, Carmen Dooley, Baz Greenland (adapter of Swallowing a Dirty Seed), and co-director Richard Patterson.  After the rehearsal Simon Clark praised "those wonderful performances by the actors - and the terrific direction and adaptation by the writers," adding, "It really was an exhilarating experiences to see the stories come alive." We think it will be exhilarating for audiences too - so don't miss it!

Direct booking links via WeGotTickets for each of the performances of Hotel Midnight can be found here.