EuroFiles (No.3) Wisecrack Grey – The Joker in the Pack

You know those people who have to crack a joke every five minutes? Or twist everything you say to try and be funny?

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Wisecrack

Well, Wisecrack Grey is one of them. Irritating, a bit vulgar and idle to boot. And she doesn’t always know when to stop. I mean, there are only so many times you want to hear tai chi referred to as chai tea.

And yet – she is the bright spark every bureaucracy needs to help box shifters through those tedious hours of stamping documents. Some offices have piped music for entertainment; Bristles has Wisecrack.

Her partner in crime is Newdawn Grey. They make a formidable pair.

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Newdawn

If things are quiet, a not infrequent occurrence in the Bristles basement, Newdawn will provoke Wisecrack into some sort of naughtiness. Their party piece is a (sideways) crab-step waltz around the office. Don’t ask! More nutty than naughty! And as ‘head judge’ in the Greys’ mock Eurocratic Court, Wisecrack is a sight to behold. Boy, can she handle a gavel! Yes – while The Senior’s away the Greys certainly play.

Wisecrack is never afraid to challenge The Senior about the values of the Eurocratic Club – such as chucking dead haddock back in the ocean or dreaming up new rules about the thickness of marrow skins. The Senior quietly enjoys Wisecrack’s brazen attitude, and only intervenes to try and show who’s in charge. Even then, when asked why she needs to be quite so sarcastic all the time, Wisecrack simply replies:

‘It’s just another service I offer.’

The Yellow Box original draft poster (2) (282x400)

In the next issue: Senior Grey (‘The Senior’) – Backbone of the Basement

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

 

EuroFiles (No.2) – Finsky Feelgood the Tai Chi Instructor

Life in the Eurocratic Club is pretty relaxed.

That Greys never age from the day they start working in Bristles is testimony to the gentle pace of life, the stress-free environment and the magnificent facilities on offer, such as the health spa, pampering pool and 5-Star restaurants for all nationalities.

To help keep it so, The Senior calls occasionally on the services of Finski Feelgood, a tai chi instructor from Scandy. The wellbeing and balance offered by tai chi leaves the Greys feeling ever more euphoric about life in the Bristles basement – if indeed that’s possible.

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Finski’s classes are compelling. If ever the Greys were at risk of over-pacing themselves, the smooth and graceful tai chi moves slow them to a more manageable work rate. They love Finski’s visits – although she does prove a distraction to Newday Grey, his loss of concentration making the moves not so much ‘smooth and graceful’ as ‘dad at the disco’.

And of course tai chi will serve as a great communication skill for The Angel of Mercy and her ‘troops’ when, having absorbed most of Eurocratica and Middle Easternness, she begins her advance into Far Eastern Regions. Fabulous being able to display such an understanding of what makes other cultures tick!

Finski Feelgood – the basement’s star attraction. Bringing a touch of glamour to an office that might otherwise be, well, rather too grey.

The Yellow Box original draft poster (2) (282x400)

In the next issue: Wisecrack Grey – the Joker in the Pack

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

EuroFiles

Welcome to the first issue of EuroFiles.

Remember Terms and Conditions Apply, starring Dave Camshaft, Nick Clogg, Eddie Moribund, Nigella Garage et al? With many of the real-life politicians no longer in power, I often wonder if that play put a jinx on them!

Camshaft, Clogg and Moribund in my kitchen

(L to R) Camshaft, Moribund and Clogg at ease in my Herefordshire home

Public attention has now turned to Europe, leading me to a brand new satire – The Yellow Box. This doesn’t set out to mock our senior political envoys in Eurocratica who, after all, send themselves up far better than I ever could. Nor does it make fun of our Parliamentary representatives (MEPs) since you could only mock them if you knew who they were – and nobody does.

Instead The Yellow Box lays bare the workings of the Eurocratic Club. How are new rules dreamt up? Which countries are allowed membership? How did it all start, and where is it heading? That sort of thing …

Bristles HQ

The engine room of the Club is a basement office in the bowels of Bristles, where a burgeoning army of Greys meets from Monday to Thursday to bandy ideas around and shift grey boxes (plus one mysterious yellow one) to and fro in a semblance of efficiency. Vital matters are thrashed out, such as the curve of a cucumber, the minimum size for an Atlantic pollock, whether a swede can be called a turnip, and whether it’s okay to eat your pet pony.

The Club doubles in size as most countries in Western Eurocratica rush to join, and doubles again when Eastern Eurocratica applies for membership en masse. The ponderous beast then spreads its hold through Middle Easternness and Far Eastern Regions, testing the commitment of the basement box shifters.

Over the next few weeks I’ll unveil some of the play’s characters – such as Wisecrack Grey, Finski Feelgood the tai chi instructor, and The Senior. Although they’re entirely fictional, you might feel that one character, the Angel of Mercy – Leader of Germolena and prospective Head of Planet Earth – seems rather familiar.

If you enjoyed Terms and Conditions Apply, and have a taste for sitcoms like Yes Minister, The Office or W1A, then The Yellow Box is made for you. It digs relentlessly at everything bureaucratic – or in this case Eurocratic – with office banter that sails close to the probable truth yet harms nobody.

Having been media-bombarded in recent years with political rhetoric about what is best for you, here’s a chance to explore an amusing alternative Euroscape – from the safety of your own theatre seat!

YB Poster Main Proof5 030417

In the next issue: Finski Feelgood – the tai chi instructor.

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

In My Kitchen

Last month three of Britain’s leading lights invited me into their family homes. In three fly-on-the-wall moments of political genius, Camshaft, Moribund and Clogg each revealed their kitchen’s innermost secrets – how the kitchen was the hub of family life and how they shared the routines of a workaday household. Chopping onions, stirring cake mixture and laying the table were all on show, as were recipes offering the nutrition that helps senior politicians tirelessly conduct themselves with vigour and grace.

I felt it only right to reciprocate their hospitality by inviting the three of them round to my house. I say ‘the three of them’ because once other party leaders got wind of my intention they all wanted to come. At one point seven of them were demanding a piece of the action, which I thought was a bit of a cheek since only three had been considerate enough to show me their kitchens.

(L to R) Camshaft, Moribund and Clogg at ease in my Herefordshire  home

(L to R) Camshaft, Moribund and Clogg at ease in my Herefordshire home

At the appointed time Camshaft and Moribund were delivered by smart limousines, though we had to wait a while for Clogg who’d come by public transport and the connecting double-decker from Gloucester to Ledbury had conked out in the middle of nowhere. Once we were all assembled in my kitchen and Clogg had called his mum to say he’d arrived safely, we got down to business.

I think they were instantly impressed! I’d worried that their kitchens would be a tough act to follow, but I could sense a heap of kitchen envy coming my way. And they seemed pleased to be free of the Westminster maelstrom and to bask instead in the haven of my provincial Herefordshire home.

Camshaft was interested in my two sieves – a coarse, plastic one for vegetables and pasta, and a finer one for rice.

My Twin Sieves

My Twin Sieves

‘Moribund’s economic policies would wash away through either of these,’ he said, with a tight-lipped grin.

‘But joking apart, this system is ideal for the smaller home,’ he added. ‘And if the Cons form a new government it will be our aim for every three-bedroom household in England to have twin sieves.’

 

One of my Kitchen Cupboard Doors

One of my Kitchen Cupboard Doors

I noticed Clogg admiring my kitchen cupboard doors. Personally I find them rather dull, but it was flattering to have them thought of so highly by such a senior figure.

‘Our raising of the Income Tax threshold during the past five years has enabled thousands of ordinary households to install kitchen cupboard doors like these,’ he said.

‘If the Never Nevers form a new government we shall raise it even further, allowing millions to upgrade their flip-top bins and oven extractor fans.’

 

Quietly unnoticed during this door-admiring exchange, Moribund had been closely inspecting my Morphy Richards microwave.

‘That’s strange,’ he said, ‘this microwave is timed in minutes only. There’s no “hours” symbol.

My Microwave Control Panel

My Microwave Control Panel

‘That’s quite normal, isn’t it?’ I suggested.

‘It’s a disgrace!’ he said, with as much bluster as he could summon. ‘If Laborious forms a new government, I shall put an end to the outrageous epidemic of zero-hours microwaves.’

We all sniggered a bit – but, fair enough, I guess he had a point.

 

 

 

To get a better understanding of where they really lay on the all-important matter of cooking and kitchenalia, I set them a challenge. I laid out a number of ingredients from which they each had half an hour to make Welsh rarebit. I would stand by and offer encouragement, and it would be called Master Chief.

Camshaft fussed away, admitting that he’d always steered well clear of Wales and this task was therefore a bit close for comfort. He also pointed out that with the extra million jobs he’d created in the economy there were now a million more people able to enjoy Welsh rarebit as a teatime treat.

Meanwhile Moribund was stirring a suspicious-looking mix like nobody’s business, smacking at the unyielding cheesy lump whilst muttering about the right ingredients for a just and fair society.

Sadly, Clogg disqualified himself, breaking competition rules by phoning his mum to ask whether the Marmite should go underneath or on top of the cheese.

Having hosted them in my kitchen, I felt none the wiser about political affiliation than I had when they entertained me in theirs. My test hadn’t really helped, nor did the subsequent debate on television, where Clogg, Camshaft and Moribund were joined by the four other leaders who’d tried gate-crashing my kitchen event:

  • Nigella Gar-arge             You Fancy a Kip Party
  • Theresa Green              Clean Party
  • Nickaless Urge-On        Scottish Gnats
  • Leanne Would               Plied Comely

TV DebateGrandiose claims on the economy, immigration and the National Health Service were bandied about by seven people during two hours of heated debate, but none had the guts to reaffirm their position on recipes, ladles, kettle wattages or, frankly, kitchen matters of any kind – rather disappointing, I thought, after the early promise of three culinary campaigns.

Only weeks till the big day. Cometh the election, cometh the Leader. If they’re to get my vote they’d be well advised to slot in a few more demos at their marble worktops. I tell you, the first person I spot sporting an anti-slip, toughened-tip, ultra-grip, own brand Wilkinson spatula with matching omelette whisk will shout out at me: “WINNER!”

Paul Costello Copyright © April 2015

click. com – a play by Paul Costello. A comic romp through the joys and pitfalls of internet dating for ‘mature’ people. Showing at Bosbury Parish Hall Friday 24th/Saturday 25th July 2015.

Letter from No. 10

Dear Broadcasters

I take exception on two counts to your proposal to ‘empty-chair’ me at TV debates.

Firstly, I can assure you there is no such verb as ‘to empty-chair’. This is a feeble attempt by you broadcasters to be media cool. Leave all that to me. The only such transitive verb is ‘to empty-pocket’, a practice of which I now have five year’s experience.

Secondly, you don’t say what kind of chair.Blue chair Can I put in a bid for the MARKUS swivel chair in sonnebo blue from IKEA. Clever choice I thought, what with Sonny Boy Williamson finding the blues so vital to life.

Should you have a change of heart about ’empty-chairing’ me, I’d be happy to come and tell viewers how I propose empty-pocketing them over the next few years.

Yours temporarily

Dave Camshaft

Copyright © Paul Costello March 2015

click. com – a play by Paul Costello. A comic romp through the joys and pitfalls of internet dating for ‘mature’ people. Showing at Bosbury Parish Hall Friday 10th/Saturday 11th July 2015

Website: www.paulcostello.me                 Twitter: @PaulCostello8

Eddie’s Eye 8 – Govis

When LADS (Ledbury Amateur Dramatic Society) began rehearsing Terms and Conditions Apply  the title and plot were very different from the Show you’ll see at Ledbury Market Theatre next week, 31st July to 2nd August.

My original play was about a sixteen year old desperate to go to the school prom in a pink stretch limo, get off with a feller she really fancied and live happily ever after. Sadly, the girl was the subject of bullying by two ugly sisters who on the night of the prom forced her to stay at home and watch repeats of Don’t Tell the Bride.

Armed with this exciting format, Director Bob thought the ugly sisters should be played by men, and chose this actor (seen at his first rehearsal) to play the one I’d called ‘Drizella’.

Gove funny

At first the casting seemed perfect. The man would stand uncomfortably close, emitting a light spray through botoxed lips and staring at you fixedly through the pebble lenses of his oversize, horn-rimmed spectacles. It was hard to feel at ease in his presence and no surprise to find he’d once been cast as the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

But whilst his looks were ideal for the part there were problems with his personality. From the start he set about manipulating the play in little ways, throwing ideas around like actors do; a change of word, a change of emphasis, perhaps a tweak to the set. But lurking behind those pebbly eyes was a mind so dogmatic and forceful that he soon began pushing for greater change; getting rehearsals rearranged, forcing costume changes and demanding that whole scenes were scrapped, insisting he knew best.

Although resentment was building, Bob went along with his ideas because his frightful face was so perfect – even without specs.

Gove funny 4 no specs

It got worse. Before long the actor had changed the plot, altered the setting, renamed all the characters (taking Govis as his own) and changed the title to what it is now – Terms and Conditions Apply. We didn’t know where we stood from one rehearsal to the next, and the play seemed more of a political satire than a love story. With the Show due in a few weeks, our fate was set.

But as is right, it was the Director who decided on the final change. He had ‘Govis’ fired in an early scene by a character of his own creation, Dave Camshaft. Relegated to a minor role, his influence was removed with one firm blow, and we’d now see very little of him. What a relief!

And my writing was not entirely wasted. You see, in revising the script ‘Govis’ had given a character called Nick Clogg a similar role to the one I’d written for the sixteen year old girl, and even found a use in Clogg’s dialogue for the word I’d dreamt up for my original play title – Cinderella.

Back soon, friends.

Eddie

Watch out for the final Eddie’s Eye!

Rosette

Terms and Conditions Apply – a play by Paul Costello. Fabulous political satire about a 5-year coalition government, seen through the eyes of ordinary, suburban households and, in stark contrast, the rose-tinted spectacles of politicians. Director, Bob Maynard.  Thurs 31st July – Sat 2nd August @ 8pm.   Ledbury Market Theatre

Tickets £10 adults  £5 students

On line:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Or: Masters House, Ledbury (Mon/Tues 9.30 to 4. Fri 9.30 to 2) 01432 260500

Or:  07967 517125

 

 

 

 

Eddie’s Eye 6 – Underlings

Eddie’s Eye 6 – Underlings

Only a few weeks till Terms and Conditions Apply  hits  Ledbury Market Theatre  (31/7 – 2/8) – rest assured that until then Eddie’s Eye will bring you all the inside gossip!

The performers love the limelight. I’ve given many a mention to the main protagonists but I thought it high time I headlined those in the cast who don’t get to see the light of day as much as us Leaders – the hard grafters in the engine room where policies marinate and mature, who so generously act as scapegoats when those policies flounder.

Take Ducken-Sniff. Here’s a man who devotes every waking hour in his understairs office to moulding and massaging Universal Credit into a policy fit for a modern economy, as portrayed by this actor at rehearsals.

ducken-sniff at workNow that’s perseverance. It must be like a bait digger in the Severn Estuary extricating his trapped left wellie from thick mud only to find that the right  one gets stuck. Yet he’s an honest man and I’m pleased that in Terms and Conditions Apply  he at last gets the recognition he deserves. A spot in the spotlight.

The same goes for Vince Capable. Poor feller looks so forlorn sometimes. Look – we’ve found the perfect person for his part!

vince forlorn

 

 

Some see Vince as a whinging, would-be entrepreneur, wittering about big-time business with Bermuda and Bahrain and deals with Denmark and Dubai, yet perhaps never travelling beyond Dover. But at least he tries. So again, I’m delighted he’s making a go of it. Good for you, Vince!

 

And how about Harriet Harmful, a misnomer if ever there was one since my Assistant is a caring, compassionate servant of the Laborious Party who for decades has sat alongside Leaders at PM Question Time, nodding when needed, grinning at her counterpart across the Chamber and joyfully joining the cheering and jeering from the back benches behind her.

harriet conducting

 

 

Here she is helping me get a Mexican Wave going at a recent rehearsal. Loyalty, staying power and an undying willingness to handle the humdrum stuff, that’s what Harriet has.

 

Then there’s Nick Clogg. Not everyone is born to be a Leader, you know. Some try but don’t quite reach that exalted height, others make it but don’t stay the course. Nick is one who tiptoes tentatively, so I’ve been doing all I can to help rehabilitate him as he goes it alone. Though he still has a way to go, his stint as Camshaft’s helper in Terms and Conditions Apply  at least gives him a platform from which to drive forward to a future befitting such a fine feller. It’s a treat performing alongside Clogg. He’s the kind of chap I’d be happy to take to my mum and dad’s for tea.

Eddie

In the next Eddie’s Eye. Henchmen.

Terms and Conditions Apply – a play by Paul Costello. Fabulous political satire about a 5-year coalition government, seen through the eyes of ordinary, suburban households and, in stark contrast, the rose-tinted spectacles of politicians. Director, Bob Maynard.  31st July – 2nd August   Ledbury Market Theatre

Website: www.paulcostello.me                 Twitter: @PaulCostello8

Blog:      paulcostello2011.wordpress.com     Recent blog: Eddie’s Eye