Amy Price takes a look at all that is on offer at DDF 2015, on the 40th anniversary of its conception.
“The 40th Anniversary of Durham Drama Festival (DDF 2015) is set to be the most exciting drama festival Durham has seen for a while! Taking place between the 4th-7th February, we have nine shows being performed over three days. Wednesday 4th features our “site-specific night”, where plays will take place at various historic locations across the city, such as the Norman Chapel in Durham Castle (“Werthers and Wrinkles”, “The Night Watch”, “Ozymandias”). Thursday 5th and Friday 6th both feature our very own intimate-style “Black Box” evening (“Whistles”, “Congestion” and “Winston”) located in Alington House on the Bailey) and the Assembly Rooms evening (“Swing by Around 8”, “Strike”, “Killing Time” – also on the bailey), with three plays being performed in each. We then have an exciting “post-DDF” performance to chase away the post-DDF blues, an immersive, promenade gothic horror entitled “The House of Usher”, taking place in Empty Shop the following week.
All the scripts are absolutely fantastic, and with such a range of pieces on offer, it would be a shame not to see any of them! We have something for everyone, whether it’s domestic comedy, black comedy, contemporary verbatim theatre, Dickensian style period drama or psychological thriller.
I’m so honoured to be running a festival with such talented writers, directors, actors and producers – and of course the wonderful DDF exec! I strongly recommend anyone to book tickets as soon as you can – I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.”
Izzie Price, Festival Director.
Site Specific Night, Wednesday 4th February.
Werthers and Wrinkles.
Ed and Bex’s grandparents have ended up in Oakhill Care Home, and they aren’t pleased about it. The meals are ghastly, they put three sugars in the coffee and the nurses don’t care about the patients’ wellbeing. It’s only when they find each other that they have something to live for. But as we only hear the grandchildren’s side of the story, how do we know the relationship wasn’t just blown out of proportion? And does it matter if it was?
Ramesses the Great (Ozymandias to his friends), invites all passing travellers to an unmissable evening of wit, charm, intrigue, profundity, music, storytelling and career advice. The privilege of the company of the King of Kings is quite unlike any other; all should prepare to be humbled before him.
The Night Watch.
Following a British victory, Captain Hayes anticipates an uneventful night watch. The feisty local girl he is commanded to protect, Delilah, has other ideas, for she is more than happy to voice her opinion of the war, the soldiers, and their occupation. Hayes’ temper is roused when he is forced to reconsider his role in the conflict which has divided and destroyed Delilah’s country. As night fades to dawn, the darkness of war is explored with a new, stronger light.
The Night Watch was inspired by a portrait of a soldier I saw at Buckingham Palace this summer, his face so alarmingly at peace despite a battle raging just over his left shoulder. I spent a full half hour meeting his gaze, and when I moved on, I felt as though I knew his character through and through. The central character of Captain Hayes is based on this soldier, whose peace is disturbed by the fiery local girl Delilah, who challenges everything he believes to be right.
Delilah: “Are you British the judges of the world? Are you God’s jury?
Hayes: “We all have a duty to do what is right.”
Delilah: “Then get out of my country!”
Hayes: “If I do, ma’am, it won’t be your country for very much longer.”
Assembly Rooms, 5th & 6th February.
Swing by Around 8.
‘Matt and Katherine are stuck in a rut. The spark in their relationship is fading, and in order to salvage it, they decide to host a Swingers dinner party. If this wasn’t awkward enough, they’re unsure as to whether or not the couple they invited got the memo. The play follows the evening’s events as Matt and Katherine must evaluate whether or not their guests are wanting the same dessert as they are…
‘Strike’ is a Speed Dating Agency owned by Ed and run by co-workers Suzie and Rick. It is also a shambles. Three days before Valentine’s Day and the company is embroiled in a scandal when a client has her details stolen and is attacked after a session. This naturalistic comedy follows Rick and Suzie as they unravel the truth of what really happened that night, with glimpses into those fateful four minutes between clients 3G and 5B. Four minutes, more than enough time to strike a match…
Gordon leads an unremarkable middle-aged existence with his unremarkable friends, except for one small detail- he and his housemates are serial killers. But when Daisy, his niece escaping her troubled past suddenly re-enters his life, Gordon and his companions are forced to hide their activities from her, stay ahead of the cops and ultimately ask themselves whether habitual murder is all it’s really cut out to be. KILLING TIME is a brutal black comedy about how we find meaning in our lives.
Black Box Theatre (Alington House), 5th & 6th February.
Congestion is a verbatim piece that addresses the issue of gender identity in the modern world through the experiences of frank, refreshing and diverse Durham University students. Through cross-cutting duologues and trio scenes, hard-hitting monologues and eerie inverted pop tunes, Congestion reflects on University culture, hegemony and the nature of the F-word.
“Time to be brave, time to act beyond our years.”
Five friends, best friends, meet in a clearing in a wood after each school day. These meetings take a dark turn when one friend makes a shocking discovery about the world they live in, before mysteriously going absent. Friendships are tested, loyalties are divided and principles are questioned. The ensuing downward spiral ends in a harsh dilemma: whether or not to reveal the truth at the risk of punishment; the outcome is one that the children could never have predicted…
“Don’t you think everything seems too right? Maybe, just maybe, the grownups are bad.”
Lauren and Tom are having a party. The occasion is unique: it’s like New Year, but instead of fireworks at midnight, there’ll be Winston, an asteroid on a collision course with earth that scientists say will wipe out mankind.
Sadly, nobody’s keen to celebrate, except for Tom’s hapless friend Wimp, and Clara, Lauren’s estranged sister who also happens to be a self-absorbed, mediocre pop star. As time runs out, the incompatible four try and fail to have a good time, and the chaos begins well before the apocalypse does.
The Empty Shop, 9th -11th February.
The House of Usher.
‘Hearken! And observe how healthily, how calmly I can tell you the whole story’
Inspired by the works of Gothic novelist Edgar Allan Poe, THE HOUSE OF USHER brings to life the stories of the dead. Tales of betrayal, insanity, lust and namely murder are intertwined throughout an evening of immersive story telling. The audience and characters alike are free to roam The House and discover its secrets, conspiring together to make these stories, in a way, immortal.
Photographs & Images: Mariam Hayat, Izzie Price, Flo Chater, Nikhil Vyas, Antonia Goddard, Jessica Bray, Izzy Osbourne.