Crime writers deal with dark deeds and thoughts – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a laugh.
In January, theatre goers in Dumfries have the chance to see seven of Scotland’s best put the ho-ho-ho into ho-ho-homicide. And the audience will take part.
First up in this melange of mirth and murder is Four Blokes in Search of a Plot.
Neil Broadfoot, Gordon GJ Brown, Mark Leggatt and Douglas Skelton will invite audience members to supply a main character and a murder weapon and then take it in turns to create a crime story from scratch. The audience selects who will take the next shift, and that author will then don the sacred Tea Cosy of Inspiration and write 50-70 words while the other three field questions about crime and writing. The idea is to not only progress what quickly becomes a fairly ludicrous plot but also to leave it on such a cliff-hanger that it challenges the next writer selected.
Gordon Brown said, “We’d travelled around as a team before but the idea of literally searching for a plot was born out of last year’s Saltire Society #ScotLitFest, when over a period of four hours we took it in turns to write a story on Facebook.”
Mark Leggatt continued, “We kept in contact with each other ‘behind the scenes’ via Skype and we realised that there was so much nonsense going on between us that the Facebook audience couldn’t see, so we thought we’d take it on the road.”
“It’s really quite daunting,” said Neil Broadfoot, “but it’s loads of fun and the audiences in Stirling and Glasgow, who saw it last year, really took to it.”
The second half of this double bill sees authors Caro Ramsay, Lucy Cameron, Michael J. Malone and Douglas Skelton stretch their acting muscles to play multiple roles in the comedy mystery play ‘Carry on Sleuthing: Murder at the Knickerage.’ They read from the script, in the manner of a radio play, but complement it with strange costumes and visual humour.
The original script was written by Skelton, but he says the cast have brought their own touches to it.
“There is a mystery to solve,” he explained, “but the audience has to find the clues among the bad jokes, dodgy accents and, frankly, a world of nonsense.”
This is the second Carry on Sleuthing in which the cast have performed – the first one was enjoyed by audiences at various venues in Glasgow, Ayr, Irvine, Paisley and Grantown-onSpey.
“But this one is bigger and better,” said Michael J. Malone. “It is,” agreed Caro Ramsay, “but better than what, I’m not sure.”
Lucy Cameron is a Dumfries-based author who was instrumental in bringing both shows to town. She said, “I saw the new play at its premiere in Grantown-on-Spey, and the Four Blokes in Stirling, and knew they would be ideal for the Theatre Royal. I’m looking forward to appearing it – if I can perfect a Glasgow accent!”
‘Four Blokes in search of a Plot’ and ‘Carry On Sleuthing’ can be seen in the Theatre Royal, Dumfries on Tuesday January 23, 2018, beginning at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8 for each individual show and £12 for the two.