Niall Ransome, member of Olivier Award winning Mischief Theatre Company, the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About a Bank Robbery explores some important issues in his debut play FCUK’D. With it coming to The Bunker Theatre this festive season, we sat down with Niall to find out some more about the play he hopes will go right.
FCUK’D is an alternative Christmas show at The Bunker this year, what can you tell us about it?
FCUK’D is a one man show written entirely in verse. It tell’s the story of a young teen who kidnaps his little brother from their council estate flat and flees in search of a better life. It’s fast paced, loud and should by the end leave you thinking about your own part in the story as a witness. Although the character in the play faces horrible decisions and realizes his own faults, I don’t see it as a ‘depressing Northern play’ more a celebration of loyalty and resilience. The play taking place in December really makes the point that these issues don’t go on holiday, they don’t stop existing.
This is the first play you’ve written, where did you get the inspiration from?
I knew I wanted to write about Hull. I started with writing from myself and thinking about my own experiences and some of the lads I knew at school. I was always lucky to have supportive parents but a lot of kids in my school didn’t and the idea grew from there really. Although the play itself is set in Hull this sort of thing happens all over. The character in the play doesn’t have a name, he’s simply called ‘boy’ because he really could be from anywhere.
Do you think it’s easier to write a play when you have a background in performing?
I wouldn’t know the difference really but I feel like it has helped. Being an actor myself you dive into stories of the plays you do and spend months obsessing over characters to find what the play is. With writing you’re doing the same but from a different angle. The play has sort of grown into what it is. I’ve sort of felt where the story was going and it was instinct whether something worked or not. As the characters become more fleshed out it becomes obvious what they would do next.
You’re a member of Mischief Theatre Company, now very well known for comedies, how did it feel working on a serious piece?
It’s been nice to do something completely different. I’ve been in Mischief for years now and worked on a lot of our shows. Although they are different to FCUK’D we still approach the comedies as actors. Play That Goes Wrong is only funny if it’s real for the characters. I played Dennis/Perkins in PTGW and although it’s a comedy the play is a tragedy to him as it continues to fall apart around him. It’s the landscape that’s completely different , the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and a council estate in Hull are worlds apart but I still approach them the same in rehearsal.
FCUK’D was performed at The Vault Festival, what did you learn from that and did you make any changes since?
Performing at the Vaults was fantastic. It’s such an important festival in London and showcases some amazing talent. I took a lot from performing the play there, making a few re-writes and seeing what could maybe be extended. The character in the play directly talks to the audience throughout and it’s been nice to focus on that relationship more since we finished there. Staging has changed also, it’s been interesting to find the most effective and simple way of telling the story.
What do you think the post-show events will add to the experience for audiences?
I love that the Bunker have post show events, I think they can add so much to the experience of seeing the play. I know we’re already interested in getting a lot of spoken word artists to perform after the show and feel you make more of an evening out of it. It sets up the theatre so people can share something. Also excited that there are Q&A’s after some performances as it’s a chance to speak to an audience directly and talk about the play and the topics it deals with. That’s what theatre should do, get you talking!!
FCUK’D is at The Bunker Theatre 11th – 30th December 2017