INTERVIEW: SAUL BOYER (UNLEASH THE LLAMA)

Interview

Saul Boyer from comedy duo Unleash the Llama (Saul Boyer + Sam Rayner) answered our questions about their new, hit, one-man show, Man of 100 Faces.

– Tell us about Unleash the Llama.

SAUL: Our first play at the Edinburgh Fringe in the halcyon days of 2014, Nougat for Kings, was a swashbuckling period drama, but performed as if it were a pulp action movie from the 1970s: we needed a name for our production company that captured the sheer lunacy of the play. One of our delightful designers told us about his schooldays in Peru, and how the teachers would “unleash the llamas” to get the lazy kids to run. “And you know their spit? It burns!” It sent us into paroxysms.

– Who was Sir Paul Dukes?

SAUL: Sir Paul Dukes was the first spy in British history to receive a knighthood. He ran away from home at 16 years old, to pursue his dreams of becoming a famous musician in Russia, and soon found himself swept up in the ferment of revolution. He got involved in the storming of the Winter Palace in the first revolution of March 1917, when the Tsar was deposed in favour of the democratic government. He was then recruited by MI6 to replace their last spymaster in Russia, who was assassinated. Our play, Man of 100 Faces, charts just a fragment of his extraordinary life.

– How did the show evolve over your successful month long residency at the Edinburgh fringe?

SAUL: Edinburgh is our testing ground; this being my seventh Edinburgh Fringe. But, this is the first time I’ve ever done a one-man show. Playing a host of different characters crisply is a technical challenge, and the energy expended over an hour is quite immense; my shirt is drenched after every performance. Over the fringe, the characterisations became deeper, and the transitions became slicker. After the festival, Sam and I worked closely to rework the script and give the story the three-dimensional depth it needed to breathe, without losing the comedy.

– What’s next for Unleash the Llama?

SAUL: We are hoping to tour Man of 100 Faces nationally, and considering writing a sequel. We are also looking forward to revealing a new project to be premiered at the Vaults Festival early next year. It is the true story of a Sierra Leonean satirist who came to the UK in 1908 to make his fortune as “the greatest British writer the world had ever seen”. And we will definitely be back at the Edinburgh Fringe in the near future!

Man of 100 Faces plays at the King’s Head Theatre in London, 27 September – 1 October 2022.

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KALEIDSCOPE FESTIVAL | London, Alexandra Palace

Recommended

Following 2021’s triumphant, sold-out spectacular, Kaleidoscope Festival will return to Alexandra Palace on Saturday, 23 July, with more crowd-pleasing live music, DJs and comedy at London’s highest festival. With a backdrop that takes in sweeping views across the whole city, acres of parkland to explore, plus access to some of the hidden corners of the iconic Palace, this is a summer festival like no other. For fans, families and fun-seekers, Kaleidoscope is hard to beat, and this year’s line-up demonstrates it’s a favourite for artists too.

On the main Hilltop Stage, ORBITAL promises to bring proceedings to a scintillating climax following the inimitable Manchester sound of HAPPY MONDAYS. CHARLOTTE CHURCH’S POP DUNGEON brings a medley of bangers to raise the temperature as the sun begins to set, while THE MAGIC NUMBERS and HOUSE GOSPEL CHOIR will have crowds of all ages dancing all afternoon.

Over on the DJ Stage – Cloud 10 – the line-up is equally mouth-watering with CRAZY P SOUNDSYSTEM, CRAIG CHARLES, DJ YODA, ZERO 7 and PBR STREETGANG all performing on the terrace decks, whilst The Alternative Stage features the legendary Creation Records founder and music industry visionary ALAN MCGEE in conversation; comedy from trigger happy stalwart DOM JOLY and rising star SINDHU VEE; plus THE CUBAN BROTHERS will ramp up the party atmosphere.

There will ALSO be a host of entertainment for families around the festival site, including interactive theatre, workshops and story-telling. Meanwhile the Palace’s secret Victorian Basements will be opened up for people to discover; and there’s more line-up to be announced on all stages.

Book online for Kaleidscope Festival, running 1pm – 11pm on Saturday 23 July 2022.

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INTERVIEW: Jonathan Burrows (Burrows & Fargion)

Interview

Choreographer Jonathon Burrows speaks to The Prickle about a new Burrows & Fargion double bill at Sadler’s Wells: Rewriting (2019), and Science Fiction (2021).

– Who are your inspirations?

I think the interesting thing is how many different, overlapping and constantly changing inspirations people have, which reflects the ways in which culture is always about the work of the many, rather than a few select individuals. And I love how the things you love don’t have to make sense together. I love dub reggae sound system culture, but I also play English folk music.

– You and composer Matteo Fargion been collaborators for thirty years; how have you managed to work together all this time?

I think Matteo is a very patient person, but also we don’t have many meetings and that seems to help.

– Burrows & Fargion pieces straddle the line between dance, music, performance art and comedy. How would you describe a typical audience member?

We have three philosophies about audience, which have kept us going over the years. The first is, “Whoever comes is the right person”. The second is, “How the audience sit is how we should sit”. And the third is, “Equal together under the same roof”. When these ideas work, people spontaneously seem to walk onstage at the end, to look at our scores and talk. And then you find out there’s no typical audience member at all.

– What’s next for Burrows & Fargion?

We don’t really make plans for the future, but rather just try to keep going with our practice, and all the parts of the practice are important, including performing, teaching, talking, writing and so on. For twenty years we’ve had no office and no regular funding, and we share all aspects of the work and pay equally. We like it that way, as it means we don’t have to make any promises about what we might or might not manage to do.

Burrows & Fargion Rewriting and Science Fiction plays at Sadler’s Wells 5 – 6 May 2022.

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JEW…ISH 2021 | London, King’s Head Theatre

Theatre - Recommended

***

“It was a total nightmare from beginning to end. The worst thing is, I think I learned guilt from him. Can you learn guilt?”

***

Unleash the Llama are proud to present the long awaited return of the five-star sell-out “hilarious”, Jew…ish, filmed in high definition by the award-winning Shoot Media as part of King’s Head Theatre’s digital on demand season, Plays On Film.

The twisted millennial romcom that absolutely no-one asked for, Jew…ish struck a resounding chord with audiences in smash-hit live runs in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe and was nominated for an Offies OFFCOMM award.

TJ (Edie Newman) and Max (Saul Boyer) are in love; with polyamory, substance-abuse on the Portobello Road and sexually-charged debates about Israel-Palestine. Occasionally even with each other. There’s just one thing: Max is Jewish. TJ isn’t.

Watch as these mortal ‘frenemies’ navigate the cultural divide – amid death, pegging, and two millennia of inherited trauma – in this laugh-out-loud two-hander which asks the ultimate question: is it ever OK to get back with your ex?

***

Available to watch on demand via the King’s Head Theatre new streaming service, KHTV, Thursday 15 April 2021 – Wednesday 5 May 2021.

PANAMAX (2019) | Apple Podcasts

Recommended

It’s safe to say that The Prickle are massive fans of Unleash The Llama. So as you can imagine, we all got rather excited to hear they’ve brought out a brand new podcast. Only one episode up so far but it’s absolutely hilarious. Subscribe.

The deranged, epic story follows two naïve millennials: arrogant conspiracy theorist Oscar Ayers and naïve IT-technician Lowell Blair. Travelling around Panama, the pair are mistaken for drug-lords, and drawn into the brutal world of the Panamanian cartels. Recording their experience on their smartphones, the pair are plunged into a maelstrom of mistaken-identities, backstabbing and conspiracy that takes them all the way to a showdown at the Turner Prize awards ceremony.

PanaMax finds hope in the direst of situations, even if those situations are a direct consequence of one’s own ignorance. This series takes the British tradition of odd-ball character comedies that deal with social outsiders and dubious familial patronage – like Withnail and I – and combines it with the ‘caught on tape’ candour of An Idiot Abroad and the narrative drive of Narcos and Breaking Bad to deliver a sitcom that is as thematically and formally relevant as it is entertaining.

This is Unleash The Llama’s first foray into the world of audio, but it’s perfect for their outlandish, over-the-top sensibilities. The first episode isn’t even half an hour — it’s too well-edited — but it’s absolutely crammed with insanity. Subscribe.

Subscribe to PanaMax on Apple Podcasts.

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JEW…ISH | Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Recommended

The Edinburgh Fringe is upon us! And here at Prickle HQ we could not be more excited about Unleash the Llama’s new show, a self-professed, “twisted millennial romcom that absolutely no one asked for”. This brand new two-hander sold out its London previews, and got the audience into quite a tizzy (see the video below).

JEW…ish is a pitch-black, romantic comedy about true love, politics, and two millennia of inherited trauma. TJ (Edie Newman) and Max (Saul Boyer) are in love; with amphetamines, the Palestine Liberation Organisation and ooh, Jeremy Corbyn. Occasionally even each other. There’s just one thing: Max is Jewish. TJ isn’t. He’s desperate to escape the tribe; she’s looking to sign up. What happens when you don’t identify with your identifiers, and you break out of the boxes you’re born into?

Unleash the Llama was founded in 2014 by Saul Boyer and Sam Rayner, with the goal of creating unique and ambitious comedy productions. Unleash the Llama were responsible for the hit 2014 Underbelly show Nougat for Kings (“hard to take your eyes off” – The Scotsman), the irreverent narrative comedy podcast: ‘PanaMax’ and the sketch show TüManz 2k18 which premiered at London’s Leicester Square Theatre in January 2018.

For JEW…ish, Boyer teams up again with Poppy Damon, having won awards for their writing together (Shortlisted for The RSC/Other Prize, Papatango, Cannes Series ‘In Development’ Award), with Kennedy Bloomer directing and Zoe Weldon producing.

Playing 1:30pm at the Gilded Balloon until 26 August 2019.

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AMÉLIE THE MUSICAL | London, New Wimbledon Theatre

Recommended

A new musical, based on the much-loved, five-time Oscar-nominated 2001 film, is embarking on an extensive UK tour. It’s already wowed critics at the acclaimed Watermill Theatre (Newbury), and now comes to south London. The musical originally ran for two months on Broadway in 2017, and has now been extensively reworked, following successful international touring to Japan and Germany. The songs are by Daniel Messé, including lyrics from Nathan Tysen, and a book by Craig Lucas.

Amélie is the story of an astonishing young woman who lives quietly in the world, but loudly in her mind. She secretly improvises small, but extraordinary acts of kindness that bring happiness to those around her. But when a chance at love comes her way, Amélie realises that to find her own contentment she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart.

Amélie is played by the delightful Audrey Brisson (The Elephantom, Pinocchio and Pericles (National Theatre), The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic) and more). Nino is played by musical theatre star and all round heart-throb Danny Mac.

Come and be inspired by this imaginative dreamer who finds her voice, discovers the power of connection and sees possibilities around every corner. Although times are hard for dreamers, Amélie is someone to believe in.

Amélie visits Wimbledon until Saturday 25 May 2019. £13 tickets are still available.

Amélie The Musical is transferring to the West End! Book now.

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BOYZ NITE OUT | London, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club

Recommended

What a week for queer theatre that’s full of joy with a feminist bent! Acclaimed Drag King troupe BOYZ are heading up a Drag King Club Night at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, featuring the well-known stars Johnny Rubber, Wesley Dykes, Fanta Le Mon, and many others.

Sending up the nineties (and noughties) boy band invasion, BOYZ promise: “sweet, sweet tunes, and moves, from your fave decade”. Nostalgia. What absolutely categorises BOYZ‘ drag is its joy, silliness, and inclusivity. It’s a real party, and everyone’s invited.

There is, of course, a political edge. RuPaul’s Drag Race is now fully mainstream, and the bitchy, diva drag queen is now a little passé. Meanwhile, a drag king revolution has been kicked off in London in the past few years by the likes of BOYZ and Pecs: The Drag King Collective.

The show, starring BOYZ and special guests, runs 9pm-10:30pm (doors at 8pm). BOYZ‘ shows are always extremely popular, and seats are unreserved, so get there early to bag a table and a drink. After the show, keep the party going with DJing into the wee hours.

Book online now and save 30% on tickets!

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CAMELOT (LMTO) | London Palladium

Recommended

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra, the world’s only professional orchestra dedicated to performing musical theatre repertoire, have enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame since their debut outing in 2016.

The opportunity to hear Lerner and Loewe’s magnificent score for Camelot (1960), with a full orchestra and chorus, back home at the London Palladium, where it ran for 518 performances, cannot be missed.

“It all started with a semi-serious Facebook post in 2015,” grins LMTO’s conductor and artistic director, 26-year-old Freddie Tapner. “I wondered if we could get together enough people for an orchestra, just for fun, to have a play through of a musical. In just a few hours I had more responses than I knew what to do with.”

As usual, an all-star West End cast will join the LMTO including Sam Swann, Clive Carter, Celinde Schoenmaker, Matthew McKenna, Emmanuel Kojo, Oliver Savile and Raphael Higgins-Humes.

Tapner is used to working with singers of the highest quality, but even he seems giddy at the prospect: “I’m extraordinarily excited to be working with this sensational cast.”

Camelot hasn’t been seen in the West End for thirty years, and we can’t wait to share this glorious score with you.”

LMTO’s concert production of Camelot will run for one performance only, Saturday 6 October 2018, so book now.

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BRYONY KIMMINGS: I’M A PHOENIX, BITCH | London, Battersea Arts Centre

Recommended

Bryony Kimmings is renowned for her outlandish “social experiments”, with previous works seeing her retrace an STI to its source, spending seven days in a controlled environment in a constant state of intoxication, and becoming a pop star invented by a nine-year-old girl. Her most recent work, A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, was commissioned by Complicite and presented at the National Theatre.

In 2016 Kimmings nearly drowned: dealing with postnatal breakdowns, an imploding relationship and a very sick child. In 2018, Battersea Arts Centre invited her to create her first solo work in nearly a decade for the previously burnt down Grand Hall.  I’m a Phoenix, Bitch combines personal stories with epic film, soundscapes and ethereal music to create a powerful, dark and joyful work about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength.

“My shows are usually born out of me going: ‘We don’t talk about this enough,'” Kimmings explains. “My hope with this show is to give a voice to the almost unspeakable traumas associated with postnatal depression and an ill child.  I want to create a show that cuts to the heart of these things, but does it in a way that people can relate to.”

Every performance of I’m a Phoenix, Bitch is relaxed, which means guests who can benefit from a more relaxed environment are welcome – there is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and a designated ‘chill-out space’ is provided. The 19th October performance is captioned and BSL interpreted.

I’m a Phoenix, Bitch runs at the Battersea Arts Centre 3 – 20 October 2018.

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