We didn’t really know what to expect when we saw Consumables at The King’s Head Theatre in August this year, five stars later and we were thankful to have caught one of only two nights that the play was performing. The great news is, we weren’t the only ones who thought it was brilliant, and now it’s coming back for a second run at The King’s Head from 9th – 14th October.
With a second chance to see it just around the corner, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to speak to Consumables writer, Matthew Kyne Baskott, to find out more about this weirdly wonderful piece of theatre.
Consumables is returning to the King’s head for a second run, what made you decide to bring it back?
Consumables is a passion project that’s been with me for years. It led me and Jason Bradbury (producer) to form our own company Hello Mozart Theatre with, at least initially, the sole aim of bringing Consumables to an audience. After a couple of glowing reviews and two sell-out performances, we felt confident that there was an appetite, excuse the pun, for our show. We’re a very new company and The King’s Head took a risk on us. They allowed two unknowns total creative freedom, so when they asked us if we wanted to bring the show back for a second run, there was no way we were going to pass on that opportunity.
Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Consumables?
A down-and-out porn star responds to an internet ad from his number one fan, who offers to serve him up a very special kind of meal. It’s essentially about the extreme lengths that lonely people will go to in order to find a connection.
Where did you get the inspiration to write it?
It was inspired by my own experiences of the online fetish world. At the time of writing, I hadn’t found a way to marry my sexual desires, for which I felt a considerable amount of shame, with my emotional needs. I had an underground wrestling match with this guy who begged me not to hurt him and I thought, why the hell do you want to wrestle then? We ended up just laying on each other having a sweaty confession in singlets. Turned out he was caring for his elderly mother and craved physical closeness.
Have you made any changes for this second run?
The cast always bring something new to each performance. That’s the thing I love about this show and our cast, there is plenty of room for them to improvise and throw in something we’ve never seen before, which keeps it fresh, exciting, some might even say dangerous! I know that ever since it was confirmed that Consumables was coming back, we’ve all been really excited about getting back into the rehearsal space and delving deeper. I think the last two performances, amazing as they were, represented us finding our feet. This time we’re taking it to the next level!
Even though it’s a one Act play, you delve quite deeply in to the two main characters, how do you manage that in a short space of time?
I like things to get to the point. I’ve always felt that as long as you can grip an audience and take them on an emotional roller-coaster of a journey, one that truly makes them feel something, then my role as a writer has served its purpose. I’m a great believer in ending a story at the beginning of another. I want my characters to live on in the minds of the audience long after the play has finished.
It’s set in an environment that’s probably a bit unusual for most people, how do you make them feel comfortable with what’s happening?
As a company, that’s probably the thing we had the most conversations about and what excites us most. Laurie Nunn (script editor) gave me the best piece of advice when she said ‘you need to give the audience permission to laugh.’ That’s what we’ve tried to do; ease them in with a bit of awkward humour, whilst still retaining the uneasy feeling of watching something they shouldn’t. Louis Paxton’s (the director) background in comedy has really helped us get the balance right.
Do the cast portray the characters the way you imagined them, or have they brought something new?
Whenever people say what I’m about to say, I never believe them. But from the moment Mike, Tim and Susan walked into the auditions, we knew we’d found the perfect cast. Yes, they are exactly how I imagined the characters to be and then some. They had a genuine connection to the material and an emphatic knowledge of who these people were. I even nicked a couple of lines of their dialogue from the auditions and chucked them in the script at the last minute.
There’s a good mix of comedy and drama in the play, how do you strike that balance?
The comedy arises naturally from the situation because the whole set-up is fairly preposterous. However, I do remember early drafts would have about 90% of the laughs all within the first ten minutes and then the rest of the play would fall flat. It was really about trying to follow a strict structure and luckily for me, Louis was on hand with a helpful diagram showing all the peaks and troughs.
What would you like to see happen to Consumables next?
At the moment, we’re just enjoying the ride. On paper, Consumables sounds fairly niche but I believe it’s themes resonate widely. I want as many people to see it as possible and would love for it to go on tour. It would be interesting to see how it would play to my hometown of Swindon.
I hope it serves as a springboard for our company Hello Mozart Theatre and my new play, which I am currently writing. What me and Jason (producer) have planned next is going to require even more trust, so hopefully, if Consumables is successful, we can alleviate some of that apprehension.
Consumables is at The King’s Head Theatre 9th – 14th October 2017 at 9.30pm