By Amy Jane Smith, Marketing Officer
You may have seen the news, or read in our new brochures, that this autumn we will be producing a play for the first time.
So far we have been pretty much a receiving house, so to be able to be part of the creative process is a thrilling prospect: we get to lead decisions on the production, and create marketing materials (the above photo came out of a 4.30am photoshoot at Camber Sands, but that’s a story for another time…).
Beached tells the story of 18-year-old Arty, who, at 63 stone, is morbidly obese. A television company films his journey towards surgery, in a sensitively titled documentary – Shocking Fat Stories. The subject matter is unsettlingly familiar, in this era of reality TV.
Providing a platform for the issue, these documentaries often masquerade as being sympathetic to the real-life protagonist while all the time they’re zooming in, closer and closer, past the point of acceptability and into the realms of freak show.
The play is also a love story, as a care-worker-turned-love-interest looks past Arty’s weight and the stigma around it and sees a sensitive and imaginative young man. Ultimately this is a story of hopes, aspirations, and of love. Arty dreams of a better life, one where he’s the romantic hero, but then what 18-year-old boy doesn’t?
We’re also happy to be uncovering an emerging playwright. Australian Melissa Bubnic has never had her work performed on this kind of scale before. She says: “I wrote Beached back in 2010. Ultimately you write a play to see it performed and to see an audience react. I’m so glad, and thankful for the opportunity, that so many people will get to see the play this autumn.”
While a gritty, and potentially sensitive subject, the play itself is also darkly comic. Arty is charming in both his real-life interactions – the humour flitting between dry and fantastical. We are transported from his house, where he is bed-bound, to exotic beaches and action-filled James Bond-esque sequences.
It makes you think, but from reading the play it seems like it will equally be a delightful watch. I can’t wait to see how the creative team will bring the piece to life.
And the creative team themselves are an exciting and crucial part of the project. The play is produced in association with Paul Jellis, Executive Producer of new writing theatre companies nabokov and Bad Physics, and directed by Justin Audibert, a previous associate of the RSC and winner of the prestigious Leverhulme Bursary.
We’re proud to be staging this brilliant work and to be moving into the world of producing. The Marlowe Studio really is going from strength to strength. If this is your first visit to our intimate 150-seat space then it’s a perfect introduction. If not, we look forward to welcoming you back.
Beached plays at The Marlowe Studio from Tuesday 28 October to Saturday 1 November, then transfers to Soho Theatre (Soho Upstairs) from Tuesday 4 to Sunday 23 November.
Beached is supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Grant for the Arts programme, and philanthropic funding by The Marlowe Theatre Development Trust.
A version of this article was originally published as part of Spotlight Magazine, Issue 10 Autumn 2014.