INTERVIEW: One of our delightful designers told us about his schooldays in Peru, and how the teachers would "unleas… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
The Prickle (@ThePrickle) September 29, 2022
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.