PICKLE | London, Park Theatre

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Two-word summary: it’s Jewish Fleabag. Yes, that world-dominating, award-winning sitcom started as one-hour, one-woman show, too. After captivating audiences during its sold-out performances in May, Pickle returns to the Park Theatre for a two-week run, in this cheeky and authentic exploration of what it means to be a young Jewish woman in London today.

Pickle is written and performed by Deli Segal, produced by Tanya Truman (Confessions of a Rabbi’s Daughter; Tier Three Sisters) and directed by Kayla Feldman (Swimming; Dear Peter), all female Jewish theatre-makers who strive to amplify Jewish voices on stage.

Pickle is all about one woman’s experience of reconciling belief and tradition with change,” says Deli Segal, writer and performer. “I wanted to tell a story that explores being in the middle of both worlds: the parts that fit together, and the parts that don’t. The vibrancy, the spirit, the richness of culture, the humour of Jewish life – those things often get lost.”

Ari lives at home in North-West London, where her life is dominated by overbearing parents, tradition and expectations. However, her daily life includes her job, going out – and, inevitably, the dating scene. Pickle follows Ari as she tries to balance Friday night dinner with drinks at the pub, JSwipe with Hinge, being Jewish and secular. This uproarious simcha of a one-woman show explores a young Jewish woman’s psyche as she navigates her two contrasting worlds with irreverent humour and heart. Expect smoked salmon, guilt and a large dose of self-deprecation as Pickle brings Ari’s vibrant world to life.

Playing at the Park Theatre 14 – 26 November, 2022.

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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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PANAMAX (2019) | Apple Podcasts

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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

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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

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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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