Category Archives: Comedy/humour

Boris Johnson fights the Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky by John TennielThank you Andy Croft, editor of the 21st Century Poetry slot at the Morning Star, for taking my Lewis Carroll pastiche Jab-or-Washy? Abs 2019-nCoV virus hologramIf Boris has time to read it when he returns to work tomorrow, he may see himself in a new light.

The poem came about in time-honoured fashion, through a small group of friends setting themselves a writing challenge. My brother laid down the gauntlet with a poem about Covid-19 composed in the style of Robert Burns. Duncan Fraser responded with a deliciously irreverent take on Shakespeare’s Cymbeline entitled Fear No More th’infected Bun. Then I shamelessly plundered Lewis Carroll’s great absurdist work for a chance to criticise how this pandemic has been handled. It was a record 7 days from writing the poem to publication. Normally it takes me months, years or, more frequently, never!

14-kotzI couldn’t have known that casting Boris Johnson as the tardy battler against the Jabberwocky, would have me dicing with death – literally.

When I submitted my poem, he was doing well at home, with very mild symptoms. By the time Jab-or-Washy? went up on-line at the Morning Star, he had been admitted to hospital. During the following three days, it looked increasingly as if my poem was about to cross the boundaries of extremely bad taste.

Luckily for Boris, he pulled through and is thankfully on the mend. Let’s hope his close shave with mortality will give him the necessary jolt to properly resource the NHS. Praise and appreciation of course is great. But money is pretty handy too!

imagesYou can read Jab-or-washy? by clicking on the following link: Jab-or-washy? by Claire Booker

The Morning Star’s Culture pages carry several poems a week, together with book and arts reviews and literary discussion pieces. You can read seven free articles per month, before being required to subscribe. To submit a poem, email it to Andy Croft at info@smokestack-books.co.uk

Meat /A Dog’s Life – 5 minute plays by Claire Booker

lost-festival-nov-2016Struck down with flu in November, I failed to see either of my two plays performed at the Lost Theatre Company’s 5 Minute Play Festival 2016. If I’d had any body fluids left, I’d have wept into my duvet.

But hey, U-tube came to the rescue and Meat and A Dog’s Life, together with the other plays selected for the festival, are available to view.

Meat is directed with verve by Jo Grieve. Rhiannon Story and Francesca Burgoyne offer spirited performances in their roles as animal activists who have a nasty secret in the boot of their car. (see link below)

A Dog’s Life is directed by myself. (Fess up time – I was too ill to get to the dress rehearsal, so an especially big thank you to Stephanie James and Jake Rowley for acting their socks off without me). When Baz runs over his wife’s pet pooch, he learns what a dog’s life is really worth. (see link below)

Finally, thank you to The Lost Theatre Company for organising the seventh 5-Minute Festival at their Stockwell-based theatre. I’ve had plays accepted there for six consecutive years and it’s always been a real pleasure working with such an enthusiastic and helpful team.

For information about The Lost Theatre’s current shows and future festivals please click on: www.losttheatre.co.uk

New Drama at the Arts Theatre

Paperback PicturesUpstairs at The Arts Theatre in Covent Garden is a lively venue with a bar at the back for those of thirsty inclination. Pretty handy during a recent hot May night when upwards of 80 people packed into its bijou space to enjoy new dramas by Claire Booker, Aaron Hubbard, Dean Moynihan and Chris York, plus music by Lescines and Rebecca Vaughan.

My play ‘Blue Line Day’ was directed by Paul Heelis and featured Monty Burgess and Leonora Barton in the roles of Michael and Rachel – a couple who can’t live with (or without) each other.  Thank you to all involved for their talent and hard work which really paid off.

We were also treated to a bravura performance by Alexandra Robinson in Chris York’s ‘Build a Rocket’ offering up the joys (and horrors) of childbirth, whilst ‘The Boy Who Built a Clock’ by Aaron Hubbard made us question our prejudices. And Dean Moynihan’s very clever play within a play, ‘This is This’, had us all wrong footed – several times over.Paperback Pictures 2

Paperback Pictures’ bimonthly new writing event, Foot in the Door, showcases work by upcoming theatre professionals. And they’re hungry for more! If you’re a writer, actor, director, musician or theatre technician looking for an audience and a chance to hone your craft, find out how to get involved at:  http://www.paperback.pics/

Sibling productionsIt’s always a thrill when I discover one of my plays has been performed north of the border. ‘Socks Go in the Bottom Drawer’ had another airing in Scotland, this time in the town of Lauder (ashamed to say I had to get the atlas out and find it – just above Galashiels). Thank you to Lauder Amateur Dramatic Association for giving it a four night run in March, and thank you to Comedy Plays for bringing the play to their attention.

If you’re a playwright who is happy for your work to be performed by amateur actors, do check out the possibilities at: www.comedyplays.co.uk/

New drama grid-lock at The Pleasance

If you’re a director, actor or playwright, Director’s Cut Theatre Company are on the look out for new blood (see below for latest call).

They’re utterly professional, command healthy audiences and are a pleasure to work with, as I discovered when my 10 minute play, Pig in a Blanket, was performed at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington, earlier this year. No U-Turn It was part of a showcase of nine new plays – No U-Turn! – based around the theme of people trapped in traffic. Ironic, as it turns out, because on performance night, north London was plunged into havoc by engineering works and a defunct Picadilly Line. Despite this, more than a hundred people managed to get through to see the show.

Artistic Director (Heather Ward) and Dramaturg (Jessica Mayne) selected plays by Claire Booker, Mitch Day, Clare Knights, Callum McGowan, Michael Pearcy, Nikki Racklin, Julian Ross Davison, Julian Warren and James Withey from nearly 200 submitted to a very specific brief. No U Turn We had to create up to four characters stuck in traffic, unable to leave their cars, with a specific place they were heading to. At the end of each play, the traffic had to move on, yet we weren’t allowed to reveal what had caused the jam.

No U-TurnA total of 16 actors and 9 directors set to work turning our words into theatre, including specially created choreography to link each of the nine plays. A big thank you to Rosie Ward and Lauren Orrock for their finely crafted performances as ‘Rat’ and Ellie (animal rights activists with a nasty secret in the boot) in Pig in a Blanket. I had great fun at the first rehearsal watching them go through improvisation exercises with co-directors Kieran Rogers and Peter Gould, including revisiting Rat and Ellie’s childhood haunts and a pretty hard-nosed police interrogation. Pig in blanket

The next showcase Drafts is coming up on 29th May at Southwark Playhouse for which writers’ submissions have just opened. They’ll be casting next month.

For more details about Drafts or The Director’s Cut Theatre, including future writing, directing or acting opportunities, please contact Heather Ward (Artistic Director and Producer) at: www.directorscuttheatre.co.uk

The Princess Monologues are back!

It’s your last chance to catch Eleanor Dillon-Reams’s 5 Star performance in The Princess Monologues this Friday at the Bread & Roses Theatre, Clapham.

Princess Monologues (Eleanor Dillon-Reeves)

She’s wowed reviewers and audiences alike with the virtuosity of her interpretation of 7 monologues written by Claire Booker, Amy Bethan Evans, Tessa Hart, Simon Jay, Tina Jay, Tilly Lunken and Eliza Power and directed by Tessa Hart.

Goblin Baby Theatre Company’s production has already played at The Bedford, Balham, The Hen & Chickens, Islington, The Space, Isle of Dogs, and returns to the Bread & Roses, 68 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ for a final performance at 8pm on February 12th. To book tickets, please click on the following link: www.goblinbaby.com/princess

A must-see for everyone! – RemoteGoat. A fantastic show – Female Arts. Brave and relevant theatre – London Pub Theatres. A rewarding experience – LondonTheatre1

Each monologue explores a different aspect of being a ‘princess’ in the 21st century from an African royal, a DisneyWorld employee and a drag Queen, to a young abused mother, a boy who dreams of finding his prince and a revenant Princess of Wales.

Dynamite II by Tilly Lunken, Just a Girl by Tina Jay, Home Made Princess by Simon Jay, Mr Andersen’s Princess by Amy Bethan Evans, Hail Your Majesty by Tessa Hart, #Shame by Eliza Power and my play Princess Frankenstein were all commissioned by Goblin Baby Theatre Co, an activist theatre company which has been making waves in south London since they launched two years ago.

I was thrilled by Eleanor’s cut-glass rendering of my monologue about medical student Frankie, who is a genius in the lab but a picky princess in love. Can she surgically create a perfect boyfriend?

“Princess Frankenstein has an incredibly dark humour, which had the audience in stitches.” RemoteGoat.    “Princess Frankinstein is genius, strange  and a little unsettling, as well as being hilariously funny.” Female Arts.    “Can she surgically create the perfect man? No, it turns out, but not before leading us through a hilarious tour of her struggling love life. It’s almost an exploration of what it means to be human in ten too-short minutes.” London Theatre 1.     “Princess Frankenstein is a darkly comic gem: one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year.” Angela Clarke.

But don’t trust the reviews. Go and see the show yourself!

Monologue Slam at St James’ Theatre

Twelve actors, ten playwrights, one great concept!

CSRamQWXIAAjMJu Director’s Cut pulled off an adventurous evening of acting and writing talent on Tuesday, with its ‘Make The Cut’ slam at London’s prestigious St James Theatre.

It’s always a privilege to have a play performed by up and coming young actors. This time, not one, but two, got to interpret the role of Kips in my play ‘Sperm Vampire’ along with nine other monologues, also performed by more than one actor.

The monologues were selected from among hundreds submitted to the company.  Each play was performed twice, by two different actors.  Each actor got to learn three different monologues.  The first round comprised all 12 actors going head to head in pairs, performing six of the shortlisted plays.  The audience then got to vote who went forward. The six winning actors  then went head to head in three groups of pairs, performing a new monologue.  The final round saw three actors performing the final monologue.  CSVVaFBWoAAA7gT

Simon Desborough and Harry Boyd both gave sterling performances as Kips in ‘Sperm Vampire’ by Claire Booker. A big thank you and congratulations to them both for their excellent interpretations.

Congratulations also to all the short-listed writers, the other ten actors and mazeltoff to the ultimate winners, actor Sukh Kaur Ojla and writer Tom Ratcliffe.

If you would like to know more about The Director’s Cut Theatre, including future writing or acting opportunities, please contact Heather Ward (Artistic Director and Producer) at: www.directorscuttheatre.co.uk or on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/directorscutTC

Alleluiah’s marital secrets gets mini-tour

After two fantastic nights at the Lost Theatre in February, I just couldn’t bring myself to put the lid on my 5 minute play ‘Alleluiah’. Stephanie James was stunning as Bridget, a woman on the cusp of adultery, walking the fine line between humour and pain brilliantly. So a mini-tour was born. (yes, let’s push the envelope – more than one performance qualifies as a tour!!)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStephanie performed first at ‘Beyond  Words’ in Gipsy Hill, followed by another gig at Loose Muse at the Poetry Cafe. Audiences were warm and appreciative. Watch this space for news of further performances in the coming year.

If you missed the show, here’s a film of ‘Alleluiah’ courtesy of The Lost Theatre:

Two bites at cherry for Bookerplays in Lost Theatre’s 5 Minute Festival

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARobots, husbands and small bars of soap feature in two plays by Claire Booker which each won a place in the Finals Night of Lost Theatre’s Five Minute Festival earlier this month.

Thirty two short plays were inititally selected to be performed at the 7th annual 5 Minute Festival in Stockwell, south London, over four nights in front of a panel of industry judges. Ten plays won places into the Grande Finale.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlleluiah was performed by Stephanie James, despite running a high fever on the night. She snatched victory from the jaws of the flu with her wonderfully nuanced performance as Bridget – a woman who shares a bed and bathroom with husband Barry – but not the secrets of her heart.

To view the 5 minute film of the play, please click on:

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Ever wondered what life would be life after the Bomb has dropped? Wonder no longer. The food’s unrelenting, the West Wing’s tiny and the staff are work-experience robots. Nuclear Bunker offers a comic take on life underground as Lady Kay (Victoria Otter) struggles to control her scheming robot Grimaldi (Michael Hutchinson) and his side-kick Sasha (Lucy Tippett).

To view the 5 minute film of Nuclear Bunker, please click on: “NUCLEAR BUNKER” by Claire Booker – LOST Theatre 5 Minute Festival

Lost Theatre is a purpose built 180 seater conveniently positioned on the Wandsworth Road (SW8 2JU) between Stockwell tube and Vauxhall tube/overground stations. Lost 5 mInute Fest 15 It has a vibrant and ecclectic programme throughout the year. As well as running the 5 Minute Festival, Lost also runs One Act and Solo festivals. If you’d like to know more about the Lost Theatre, or are interested in entering the One Act Festival (submissions now open) click on:  http://www.losttheatre.co.uk

Camden Fringe success for Goblin Baby Theatre Company

One of our Robots is Missing

One of our Robots is Missing

Goblin Baby Theatre Co. pulled off  a Camden Fringe Review ‘Hot Ticket’ status for 2 out of the 3 nights’ performances of FORESEEN – its four writer, three actor, two director bonanza of post-apocalyptic dark comedies that played The Hen & Chickens Theatre Bar in Islington from the 22nd to 24th August.

Associate writers Amy Bethan Evans, Claire Booker, Tessa Hart and Tilly Lunken each wrote 12 minute plays which the company wove into one darkly comic, thought-provoking hour of theatre.

Processed

Processed

The Appointment

The Appointment

Lucy and the Beasts

Lucy and the Beasts

Leigh-Anne Abela directed Amy Bethan Evans’ Lucy and the Beasts  (The Beast is what you make of it);  and Claire Booker’s One Of Our Robots Is Missing (Nuclear bunkers. Read the small print!) Victorine Pontillon directed Tessa Hart’s The Appointment (The legend of the Female Species and their mysterious swelling bellies); and Tilly Lunken’s Processed  (There must be somewhere to live, even when there is nowhere to go).

Actors Alice Bell, Michael Bagwell and Alexandra Vincent turned in a kaleidoscope of stunning performances, each creating four completely different characters, plus some state-of-the-art, on-set costume changes under the eagle eyes of enthusiastic audiences.

Next up is a Goblin Baby double bill: The Proposal by Anton Chekhov(in a same-sex version) and To Be A Wife by Tilly Lunken at The Space, Isle of Dogs, London from 7th-11th October (7.30pm with 3pm Saturday matinee).  For more details or to buy tickets visit www.goblinbaby.com

Feminist fairytales put wolf in the dog house!

Some great reviews and lively audiences at last month’s Fairytale Festival ‘Retold’ prove beyond doubt that women’s theatre can put bums on seats and still be taken seriously.

Hoodie at Space (Eliza pic)

Activist theatre company ‘Goblin Baby’ commissioned Claire Booker, Amy Bethan Evans and Tilly Lunken to update three traditional fairy tales. The plays were performed for five nights at The Space, Isle of Dogs, then transferred to The Hen & Chickens Theatre, Islington for a further five nights.

Claire Booker subverted Grimm’s ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and set all the action inside the belly of the wolf where it’s dark, it stinks and it’s packed with victims. Can Hoodie, Gran and Aisha escape, or should they wait for the Woodcutter?

Hoodie Aisha (Eliza pic)

“‘Little Red Hoodie’ feels like a sudden gem and Natasha Atherton is truly riveting as Aisha, a Muslim woman who wakes up in the stomach of a wolf. This piece of writing engages with a more delicate kind of metaphor and allows a story to be told; one which is very moving. This truly feels like a fairytale done differently, while remaining recognisable.”  ThePublicReviews

“Booker devises a brand new character, Aisha (Natasha Atherton), a devout Muslim who has unexpectedly found herself detached from the rest of her body. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The idea of women being empowered to save themselves comes across in this play and there’s a nice nod to the disparity in generational attitudes, with Hoodie (Tessa Hart) and Gran (Rebecca Peyton) coming to different conclusions. Hoodie gran (Eliza pic)Peyton’s slightly doddery, well-meaning grandmother character is a delight.” ViewFromTheGods

Tilly Lunken’s play used a reunion of three old school friends queuing up to watch Snow White as a way of dissecting issues of beauty and appearance. “There is a sweetness here and Priscilla Adade-Helledy (Lilly) brings an enjoyable levity to proceedings. Some truly poignant moments show up with wonderful lines like “[Snow White is] a story of never escaping the dreams of your mother.” ThePublicReviews

RETOLD“The Snow White Complex’ definitely packs a big emotional punch, thanks to the cast but also director Kuba Drewer.” ViewFromTheGods

Amy Bethan Evans ‘As if by a Stair’ used the story of Rapunzel as a fable which illustrates how young people’s futures have been sold down the river of so-called fiscal necessity.  “Whilst the pieces are each completely different and unique, the overall fairytale and socio-critical tone still makes the show feel like one big ensemble project where everyone is very much in tune with each other.” RemoteGoat
Goblin Theatre (Red Hoodie)

Watch this space for more information on Goblin Baby Theatre Company or go to their website at: http://www.goblinbaby.com

Claire Booker’s short comedy ‘Last Man in Watford’ plays at Loose Muse, The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BX on Wed 12th February (8.00pm).

Tilly Lunken’s One Act drama ‘Mint Leaves’ plays at the Hen & Chickens Theatre, 109 St Paul’s Road, Islington, N1 2NA on 13th and 14th February (7.30pm).

Goblin Baby Theatre’s one-night-only benefit production of Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues’ takes place on Sunday March 16th at 7pm at The Space, 269 Westferry Road, E14 3RS.