Putting on a Show – Week Five: A Sneaky Peek

script screenshot

This week, rather than just babble on about the play, we thought we’d share a small chunk of it. Here is a bit of the latest draft, from the beginning of Act Two. Our characters are Caroline, who is waiting in Nando’s for her boyfriend to join her, and the waitress, Rubber. Our action begins with some mild language:


Putting on a Show – Week Four: Melvin

MelvinWelcome back to our series on Nando’s and Nandon’ts. Last week, you heard James Bloomfield talking about his role, Melvin, and this week you’ll hear myself and Will.

Melvin’s been the most difficult character to crack, and has certainly been the one under most discussion in the super-secret writing meetings. Our protagonist has always been Caroline, and as such is closely linked with the story, so the two progress hand in hand. The waitress, Miss Chicken, arrived pretty much fully formed, and is distinct enough that she slots in naturally to whatever plans we have.

Melvin, however, is different. When the play was short, and the focus was on the couple’s interaction, he slotted easily into the “boyfriend” role. However, as the play got longer, and Rubber was brought more into the story, he slipped quite strongly into becoming the antagonist. We could make him very clearly one or the other, but we felt that would be simplistic and unsatisfying. So, most of the trouble has been to reconcile both sides of his character, while trying to a real person rather than a function of plot.

How this difficulty in balance has come out in the script is that you’d have some scenes in which Melvin was being boyfriend-y, and then some scenes in which he was small-minded, rude, and just an arse, and you had no idea what Caroline would see in this guy. It is important that you buy them as a couple, and to some extent you want them to figure out a way past their problems. There had to be some tension as to who Caroline would end up with, but also there had to be some sympathy with Melvin’s plight, otherwise there would be no drama. It was also important structurally – to buy the ending of the second act, you have to believe in Melvin and Caroline as a couple.

Our specific thoughts concerning motivation (rather than what seemed funny and to make some sense) only truly coalesced for all the characters following our performance at the Y Theatre. An email from me on June 24th contains this nugget of Melvin motivation:

“…Melvin realises she’s never going to be the sort of girl he wants to be in a relationship with…”

Will succinctly defines his position in the play:

“…Caroline’s story,  Rubber waxes as Melvin wanes”

And on the 30th, Will sent me a bio about him, to inspire further script development:


Age: 24

From: Leicester

Job: British Gas telesales (shifts)

Friends: Work mostly, male mostly, locals.

Notes: Confident but prone to anger. More comfortable in mainstream culture than with subtlety. Caroline is not his first serious partner. He compartmentalises his life. Work/relationships/friends. Is genuinely fond of Caroline.

The only amendments I made to this were that he is “the sort of person who tries to figure out the plots to movies as he goes along,” and I describe him at the end leaving “Malvolio-style/like the antagonist of a high school comedy”.

So now, Melvin’s function in the play is a lot clearer. Yes, he is Caroline’s boyfriend, but they are wrong for each other. This makes him the antagonist, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person. His outbursts stem from an emotional place –  frustration about his relationship – rather than him being a dick, and they are simply his way of dealing with their issues. He doesn’t get on with the waitress, but that doesn’t mean he’s misanthropic, just that their personalities don’t gel. His solo is yet to finalised, but it’s now more about himself than attacking other people.

It’s worth pointing out that however aggrieved Melvin is, as his relationship with Caroline goes up and then down, and though he blames Rubber for some of his woes, he doesn’t descend into something too unpleasant. We have a setup where both of the female characters in the play are bisexual but Melvin doesn’t seek to make emotional capital over this.

Obviously, the character will continue to evolve, as we have yet to hand the script to James to see what he can do with it, but we’re coming to a better place with him, which is satisfying.

Next week, we’ll look at the music.


Putting on a Show – Week Three: Ask An Actor

James BloomfieldThis week, we have an interview with James Bloomfield, leading man, to give you an impression of what it’s like working with us, and to prove the madness is shared.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m James Bloomfield and I’m a psychology student at the University of Leicester, going into my third year. Much more importantly I’m also the publicity and marketing officer for LUTheatre and I’m playing Melvin in the Nandos musical.

Why get involved?

Because I didn’t have anything else on at the time, and a certain Mr. Ward asked me if I felt like singing a few songs about chicken.

Why did you volunteer for this sight-unseen?

(Because you said it was going to be a one time only 15 minute performance oh god what have I done)


Putting on a Show – Week Two: Q&A

Nando's and Nandon'ts at Proteus
Pictured (L-R): James Bloomfield, Olivia Deane, and Nicola Brown

So, a definitely-not-self-indulgent Q and A. I shall begin.

JAMES: So, Will – why me? Oh god, why me?

WILL:  Well, I’m not entirely sure. We hadn’t known each other too long when I approached you. You’d foolishly cast me in a play you were directing in 2012 and so I guess I’d got used to you shouting at me and telling me everything I did was wrong. I suppose I must have been impressed by your organisation, your creativity and your musicality. Especially this last point, because musically I am enthusiastic but without any skill whatsoever.

JAMES: See, I hear you don’t like musicals. (In fact, I have it on good authority you like nothing, save your drinks cabinet.) Why collaborate on a musical?

WILL: This is almost a lie! I protest! I don’t like some musicals, it’s true. Lloyd-Webber’s charm eludes me for instance. Les Misérables is a mystery. Rent I wouldn’t. But I love Sondheim, Gershwin, Bernstein. That sort of thing. Things with actual music.


Putting on a Show – Week One: What and Why

The poster for the performance of Nando's and Nandon'ts: A Musical at The Y 'Emergency' night

As you may know, I have an ongoing collaboration with William Breden (@WinsomeVogon is one of the few places he concedes to being online). It is called Nando’s and Nandon’ts. To the right is a poster designed for its first public outing. Here, we begin an irregular series documenting our folly.

Here’s Will, with a summary of what the hell is going on:

It began with a dream.

A dream of chicken. And Les Misérables.

But mostly chicken.


Input, output, poem

Hello again. My brief life update is that my collaboration Nando’s and Nandon’ts recieved its second draft performance at the Y Theatre, Leicester, which was enormously helpful, and I look forward to working it up into a full piece with Will Breden. Also, DSMing Curve Young Company’s The Tempest turns full-on on Monday, as tech/show week starts! Strange to think exactly a year after the Shakespeare Marathon (if I didn’t write about it this time last year prod me for details), I’m doing another many-hours Bard project.

For this entry I thought I’d go a little more into what I’ve been putting into my brain, since it will out itself eventually in my writing. Also, I have many thoughts about some things. I’m going to look at a book, a comic, and a film. Then there’s a poem I happened to write for those who scroll to the end. UPDATE: I’ve also renovated the poetry and prose sections.



I’m averaging a post a post a month since this blog started in March 2012. That’s regular, right?

Some updates:

  • Come June I will be free of uni work, come July I will have graduated, and the adult world beckons. Erp.
  • Submitted various things I had hanging around to various places, will be on the lookout for more places to send and waiting on any of it popping back up.
  • Thanks to superhero comics, I’m ahead of schedule on my Goodreads target.