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)


Edinburgh Fringe 2013

I have many friends and associates performing at the Fringe this year. They are all talented and interesting, so you should go see their shows if you’re up there.


My man Jack F is in this group, which are putting on two shows:

notwhatIt’s Not What You Know (Facebook event)

4:10pm, August 2nd – 17th , The Space @ SurgeonsHall

It’s not what you know, it’s who you … as the saying goes. After graduating from TADA, the most prestigious drama school around, surely the streets will be paved with gold for young Rose? From the creative team of Dyslexia: The Musikal (2010 sell-out award) and Forever Young. **** (ThreeWeeks, 2012).

For more info and tickets see

The Crawl

9pm, August 2nd-16th, Frankenstein Pub

Come and join us on The Crawl, get the drinks in and meet some new people along the way. What are their stories? Find out in an evening of drinks, games, general madness and fun. Please be aware this show takes place in three pubs and there will be a short walk between them. Alcohol is bought and consumed at the audience’s discretion, drinking is not compulsory.

For more info and tickets see

Paper Crane Puppet Company

Many friends in this one – Keith B, Holly E, Lily P – and puppets, so this should be your first port of call.

odyssey of daveThe Odyssey of Dave (Facebook event)

2:30pm, August 12th-17th, Quaker Meeting House, Venue 40

Following on from last year’s show Ronnie and the Other World (one of the Scotsman’s ‘Ten Best Weird and Wonderful Shows of 2012’), Paper Crane Puppet Company return to the Fringe with an all-singing, all-dancing, all-puppet cast. When two disenchanted ex-muses take over the lives of a group of disgraced politicians and manipulate them into replaying an ancient epic, they get much more than they bargained for. As the struggle between ancient legend and modern mundanity plays out, things aren’t quite as they seem. With photocopiers, Towies and the Ghost of Easter Past.

For more info and tickets see


Ben J is the connection here. The Tempest is one of my favourites.

ifroomenoughIf Room Enough

2.4opm, August 3rd-24th (except Mondays), Northern Stage at St Stephen’s ​

A look at what dreams are made on with infectious live music and an unpredictable beach hut. If Room Enough is a dynamic and playful retelling of The Tempest, which questions the idea of freedom and sees the magic in the everyday. withWings are collectively effervescent, and individually ambitious and talented. The company was founded in 2009, and has quickly built a reputation for inventive and quirky physical theatre. ‘The hot news is that If Room Enough is being taken to Edinburgh’ (Stage).

For more info and tickets, visit

Lastly, Olivia Deane (Facebook) may or may not be knocking around with a purple ukulele, so keep an eye out just in case. You have your orders. Go forth!


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.



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.


Alice in Wonderland

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. –Douglas Adams

Many people love that quotation, and with good reason. I’m among the worst (or, perhaps, best) for putting off things I have to do until the last possible minute, working stupid hours to get stuff done, doing other things instead – even this blog post was started as a way to keep the fingers moving while I wasn’t doing work on my second ‘full-length’ script this fortnight, more on which later. (And only finished quite some time later.)

However, if I don’t have deadlines, things don’t get done. Case in point, Alice in Wonderland. I’ve had the idea for a promenade performance of the original text (or as close as possible) of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for well over a year. However, I did  no work on it until it became apparent a week before an opportunity (sadly a failed one) to pitch the idea that I needed to have a finished script in hand, rather than the planned couple of scenes. This meant, in the week of producing my friend Ivo de Jager’s brilliant play Sweetmeat (and also acting as assistant stage manager) I had to come home and rattle off at least a couple of scenes a night.


Medium and magic machines

I’ve posted a couple more of my Proteus sketches, both unperformed male-female two-handers. Soul Music is a musical written from a female perspective, and Interview a sci-fi tale from a male.

Writing in the sci-fi genre you immediately come across the roadblock of how closely you adhere to the science part of the term. I’m not a scientist, and hesitate to declare much interest in it. I’ve used SFnal tropes in my work, most recently in this short piece, but mainly to highlight things about humans rather than exploring ideas. I’ve used time travel to talk about relationships, a robots to explore emotion, and so on, and will continue to do so. But I would like to address the science more closely in future, if only to avoid my current problem of magic machines. I’m not bothered about accuracy, but knowing more sparks more ideas, and thinking through the reality of your story is always encouraged.

However, I had the same problem with both pieces. I struggled to convey what I wanted to see on stage in script form. Also, if you peruse my short stories section you will find you cannot peruse the short stories section because none are posted. I’ve only finished one in the past six months and we’ve already covered that. I’m far too used to writing in play format and, further, having ideas for that form. It’s as if a short story section of my brain has shut down and the output has been replaced by the sketch factory.

I’m fairly busy from now until, well, the 24th of June, but I hope this only means my output will increase in true procrastination style. This is the first time I’ve had a blog I’ve needed to update, so prospects are good for at least getting three posts a month, more if they’re all as short as this.


Firsts and adaptation

Keeping Time

Firsts are always hard. This isn’t the first time I’ve done a first post on some blogging platform or another, but I’m hoping this one will stick. I intend to check in here every week with some words on something I’ve done worth sharing, which will hopefully mean I will make myself have interesting weeks (or become experienced at making dullness shine), so let’s launch straight into it.