9 Oct 2015

Horrific treats in store!

Manchester is to see a crop of spooky live entertainments emerge in the two weeks around Halloween, and Scytheplays Ltd is pleased to be contributing to the chills.

October 26th-28th and November 2nd and 4th will see Chinatown pub The Seven Oaks play host to a new production of Humpty's Bones, based on the novella by acclaimed British horror author Simon Clark.  A chilling discovery in the remote Yorkshire village of Dog Lands leads the incoming Laird family into a tense confrontation with local history and the hidden power of the moor...  Adapted and produced by Sean Mason (V for Vendetta), Humpty's Bones was first adapted as part of Scytheplays and Lass Productions' 2013 offering, Hotel Midnight ("suitably chilling" said the Fiction Stroker).  The new version will be directed by regular Scytheplays technican Peter M George and the cast includes Catryn Philbin, Lauren Stirrup, Pat Brocklehurst and Andrew Marsden, who also worked with Scytheplays in Hotel Midnight and Who@50: An Unearthly Child.

Tickets for Humpty's Bones are £7.50 on the door (£5.50 concessions) or you can save money by booking online at the following links:

Humpty's Bones - Monday 26th October
Humpty's Bones - Tuesday  27th October
Humpty's Bones - Wednesday 28th October
Humpty's Bones - Monday 2nd November
Humpty's Bones - Wednesday 4th November

Also in Manchester are two spine-tinglingly fun comedy shows.  Top improvisors ComedySportzUK present an improvised horror story in Stage Fright at the King's Arms, Salford on  Friday 23rd October.  Your suggestions will inspire a bone-chilling tale that will make you scream with laughter as the acclaimed team spoof the tropes of horror.  The show begins at 7.30pm and tickets are £3 on the door.

Meanwhile, popular showcase of new comedy writing, The Sitcom Trials returns to Manchester for a Halloween Special at the King's Arms on Sunday 25th October.  Have they found the newAddams Family?  The new Munsters?  The new Garth Marenghi?  Five ghoulish new comedies performed in one night. The future of sitcom will be in the audience's (blood-stained) hands.  Again the show begins at 7.30pm and tickets are £3 on the door.

Howard Whittock, star of The Dead, Live (photo: Shay Rowan)
Finally for this Halloween season, Scytheplays and Oldham Library are presenting a script-in-hand reading of an unusual new play by Together in Electric Dreams writer, Daniel Thackeray, entitled The Dead, Live, on Thursday 29th October at 7pm in the Library's Performance Space.  Martin Barlow is a popular psychic medium who knows he's a fake, but the world of Spirit may hold some surprises for him...  Presented as a work-in-progress, this performance will be free to attend and followed by a Q&A session with the writer and cast in which audience feedback will be very much encouraged.  The cast will include The Year of the Sex Olympics actor Howard Whittock.

18 Sep 2015

Together in Electric Dreams - award-nominated and back on stage soon at Eurocon!

Sir Clive Sinclair (Daniel Thackeray) and Alan Sugar (Matthew O'Neill) - their struggle for
computing supremacy immortalised in this photo by Shay Rowan
The recent North-West mini-tour of Together in Electric Dreams proved extremely popular with audiences in Oldham, Buxton and the show's native town of Manchester.  The show continued to receive mostly very positive notices throughout its run - the word 'mostly' being used in the interests of total honesty, with the Fringe Guru and Manchester Salon giving rather differing appraisals of the piece - and Lass Productions and Scytheplays Ltd are extremely gratified that the Buxton Fringe Awards nominated the play in the category of 'Best New Writing'.

Ross Kelly, Steve Cain and patron at the Greater Manchester Fringe Awards
Photo: Paul Husband
Sir Clive actor and writer of Together in Electric Dreams, Daniel Thackeray, was also surprised and privileged to receive 'Spirit of the Fringe' at the Greater Manchester Fringe Awards, recognising his ability to appear in, work on and support more shows at Manchester's annual fringe festival than is strictly sane.  With typical cool (or else comic ineptitude) Dan was extremely late to the awards party and so the award was received on his behalf by frequent Scytheplays collaborator Ross Kelly and the new Alan Sugar himself, Steve Cain.  Ross was the the director of Hat Hair Productions' Under Manc Wood, in which Steve and Dan also appeared, and which also won an awrad as 'Best Revival/Adaptation'.

Sir Clive (Daniel Thackeray) and Akiko (Jess Lee)
Photo: Shay Rowan
Scytheplays Ltd and Lass Productions harbour plans to bring the show back in a big way in 2016, but before that Together in Electric Dreams is will be performed at EuroCon 2015, held at the No 1 Club, Blackpool between Friday 2nd and Sunday 4th October.  EuroCon is an event for European devotees of classic gaming which has been running annually since 1999, and the Together in Electric Dreams team are thrilled to be able to contribute.  The performance will be held at 3pm on Saturday the 3rd, although please note attendance is only possible for those who have bought a ticket for the overall event (which are excellent value at £20 for a whole weekend of activities).

Steve Cain, Jess Lee and Daniel Thackeray are already gearing up to return to their roles - with Steve due to film special video sequences imminently!

We hope to announce more news about future performance of TOgether in Electric Dreams very soon.

18 Jul 2015

Success for Together in Electric Dreams!

Scytheplays are pleased to report that the new tour of Together in Electric Dreams has proved very successful so far, with several near-sell-out audiences, great reaction and reviews.

The show was a big hit at Manchester's Albert's Chop House on Tuesday 14th July, with reviewer-in-attendance Brian Gorman praising the show highly on his blog.  (Full disclosure: Brian is an old friend of Scytheplays, having played Peter Creedy in V for Vendetta, but those who look to the earliest entries on this blog will note that actor/artist Brian was giving us great reviews long before he was our friend!)

The first two shows at the Buxton Fringe Festival have also gone well, with another good review and particular praise for Steve Cain's debut performances as Alan Sugar.

Not only has the show done well with the critics yet again, but the audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive too - "One of the best pieces of fringe theatre I've ever seen," said one person who saw the show at Albert's Chop House.  GM Fringe photographer Shay Rowan was present at that performance to capture the images seen here.

The final two performances on this tour, again at Buxton but with Matthew O'Neill returning to the Sugar role, take place on Sunday 19th and Wednesday 22nd July, both at 1.15pm and tickets can be booked here.

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".