EDINBURGH 2017: BWW Q&A- Richard Carpenter Is Close To You
Tell us a bit about your show
It's a play about Richard Carpenter from '70s brother-sister duo The Carpenters, made up of equal parts loving tribute and stinging parody. A totally original, razor-sharp take on the classic "boy-meets-girl-at-home-because-they-live-together-because-they're-related-and-forms-a-pop-group-which-achieves-global-success-even-though-behind-the-scenes-there's-lots-of-drama" story... You know the kind? What you can expect is fruity song pastiches sprinkled over a powerfully dramatic narrative arc. In 3" white platforms.
Why bring it to Edinburgh?
I mean, does anywhere exist outside of Fringe in August? I thought the rest of the country was kind of like 28 Days Later or Chernobyl - deserted shopping malls, smoking ruins...? In all honesty, where else would beat Edinburgh for audience and opportunity? Yes, it's overwhelmingly competitive, but there's also a huge amount to tap into, if you can find a bit of a niche and just go for it. In 2009, I came to Edinburgh with an unknown little show called Frisky & Mannish, and we walked away with a new agent and an international tour... You can't expect that every time, but you can try and put yourself in the way of it!
What sets it apart from other shows at the Fringe?
When the 2017 Fringe brochure arrived, I frantically thumbed through the Cs to see if any other Carpenters-themed shows were on. Luckily, no one else wants it this year, so that's my USP. But it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway, since other shows generally make Karen their central focus. In death as in life, Karen is both the untouchable "superstar" icon people want to see, and also the patently vulnerable girl people warm to, respond to, care for. Mine deals almost entirely with the unstarry, unvulnerable, uncentrAl Richard. It might not sound ideal to base your show around a superficially less-charismatic performer, but I promise by the end you will care for him as much as I do.
Who would you recommend comes to see your show?
I'm not going to waste a recommendation on Carpenters fans - surely they've got to be an easy sell?! - so I'm going to dedicate this portion to people who don't know anything about them. I have had three separate people come up to me after gigs and say some variation of "I don't even like The Carpenters and I loved that!" My first response is "Thank you!!!" My second thought, once they've walked off, is "Hang on, why did you come? Were you forced? Do you need help? Blink twice for yes." Then I count my takings and forget about them. But the bottom line is, this is really not a show for Carpenters fans, any more than the film Slumdog Millionaire is for fans of millionaires and/or slumdogs. It's about relationships and self-worth, and everyone can relate to it.
Are there any other performances you're hoping to catch at the festival?
Last year, I tried a new system of matching every ticket I pre-booked with a total unknown punt on something nearby. It worked surprisingly well, so I'll probably do the same again. But I already know that one of my favourite actors is performing her own play at Underbelly, and even though our timeslots clash, I'm going to see it on my day off if it kills me. It's called The B*easts, by the wonderful Monica Dolan.
Timings and ticket information for Richard Carpenter Is Close To You are available on the edfringe website.
Photo Credit: Steve Ullathorne