Josh Finan as Cain in Shook
(Photo: The Other Richard/Southwark Playhouse)
022 – Shook, by Samuel Bailey
Samuel Bailey’s play Shook is set in a young offenders’ institution, where three young men have signed up for a vocational class. But they have not chosen the usual options of carpentry or bricklaying. They’re being taught parenting skills – how to look after a baby – because these three teenagers are, or about to become, fathers. Within the confines of a single bare room in the detention centre, Bailey gives us a glimpse of the challenging lives of young men who are still boys caught in a cycle of criminality as a result of their dysfunctional families, macho models of masculinity, and social prejudice. The play is sharp, funny, thought-provoking and very moving. It is all the more remarkable for being Sam’s full-length debut work.
Shook won the 2019 Papatango New Writing Award, and was produced by Papatango at the Southwark Playhouse in November 2019, before a short UK Tour. It was scheduled to transfer to the Trafalgar Theatre in London’s West End in Spring 2020, but sadly this run was cancelled by the Covid lockdown. Papatango released a filmed version of their production of Shook online in February 2021, which is available to view until 28th March 2021 on the Papatango website. Click here to visit Papatango.
I’m delighted to welcome the playwright Samuel Bailey, as well as George Turvey, the Artistic Director of Papatango and director of their production of Shook, to talk about this exceptional new play.
Note: this episode contains strong language.
Samuel Bailey was born in London and raised in the West Midlands. He began writing plays in Bristol and developed work with the Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory Theatres and Theatre West before moving back to London. He is an alumnus of the Old Vic Theatre’s Old Vic 12 program and of the Orange Tree Writers’ Collective. His play Shook won the 2019 Papatango award. He currently has a new play in progress for Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth, as well as a film script for Peter Cattaneo, the director of The Full Monty.
George Turvey trained as an actor and has appeared on stage and screen in roles as diverse as the world première of Arthur Miller’s No Villain at the Old Red Lion Theatre and Trafalgar Studios, and Batman Live World Arena Tour. George co-founded Papatango in 2007 and became the sole Artistic Director in January 2013. As their dramaturg, he has led the development of all of Papatango’s productions. Credits as director include Shook (Papatango, UK tour), Hanna (Papatango, UK tour), The Annihilation of Jessie Leadbeater (Papatango at ALRA), After Independence (Papatango at Arcola Theatre, 2016 Alfred Fagon Audience Award, and on BBC Radio 4), Leopoldville (Papatango at Tristan Bates Theatre), and Angel (Papatango at Pleasance London and Tristan Bates Theatre). George is the co-author of Being A Playwright: A Career Guide For Writers, published by Nick Hern Books.
The Footnotes to our episode on Shook include more observations on our prejudices against people from different classes or circumstances, parenting as empathy, and the heartbreak of long-distance childbirth.
Girl from the North Country is an extraordinary collaboration between the playwright Conor McPherson and the musician and song writer Bob Dylan. The result is a magical work where McPherson’s portrait of families struggling to survive in Depression America is transfigured into an uplifting theatrical experience by the ravishing period arrangements of Dylan’s songs.
The play opened at the Old Vic Theatre in London in 2017 to a rapturous response and reviews, and was followed by runs in the West End and New York.
This is a very special episode, first because I am privileged to talk with none other than the play’s author Conor McPherson, and secondly because we have also been given kind permission to include several extracts from the original cast recording of the music from the first London production.
Garry Essendine is a star of the London stage with an ego and celebrity lifestyle to match. But as he passes forty his excesses threaten to bring down the entire structure of his professional and personal life. Essendine is the thinly disguised alter-ego of playwright and performer Noel Coward, whose tussle with his own fame is the subject of his classic 3-act, 4-door farce Present Laughter. First performed in 1942 with Coward himself as the lead, the play has since attracted a glittering list of stars who could not resist the flamboyant turn, including most recently Andrew Scott in an Olivier award-winning performance at the Old Vic in 2019. Joining me to reexamine Coward’s ‘light comedy’ in the 21st century is theatrical agent and Coward aficionado, Alan Brodie.
One Podcast Two Plays! Carlo Goldoni’s Commedia dell’Arte classic A Servant to Two Masters and Richard Bean’s hilarious update One Man Two Guvnors. We explore all of the ingredients of the original play in the tradition of Commedia dell’Arte, as well as how Bean translated these so successfully into his smash hit at the National Theatre. Writer and director Justin Greene joins me to sample this multi-course theatrical banquet. (Commedia afficionados will appreciate the gourmet references!).
Before the theatres went dark this month I was lucky enough to see Caryl Churchill’s A Number at the Bridge, and spend more than seven hours in thrall to Robert Lepage’s Seven Streams of the River Ota at the National. Plus, some thoughts on what we miss when there is no theatre.
Another great mix of shows this month, from Tom Stoppard’s new play, to Ibsen, Beckett and newer plays in smaller London venues.
The January roundup included both classic plays, such as The Duchess of Malfi, Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters, as well as recent musicals Dear Evan Hansen and Girl from the North Country …