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!

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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 The Best Possible Taste

All around, the audience goes silent as a tender drama unfolds on stage. Shoulders are shaking, tissues handed round. Here are 10 great ways you can liven up those pin-drop moments at the theatre.

  1. Test the call sounds on your phone.
  2. Rustle deep in the plastic bag containing all you need on a theatre visit (see below).
  3. Slowly open a Werther’s Original wrapper (other brands okay), or the tightly sealed top of a packet of digestives.
  4. Crunch, not suck, the Werther’s or digestives.
  5. Develop a tickly cough – frog-at-back-of-throat style.audience-silhouette
  6. Pretend to answer your phone, loudly, with: Sorry, the signal’s bad – I’m in the theatre. Hello … hello …
  7. Very slowly open the top of a well-shaken bottle of Coca Cola. Repeat frequently. For a more instant effect, try a can or two.
  8. Tell the hard-of-hearing people next to you what’s happening up on stage.
  9. Play solitaire with a wooden board and marbles. Drop marbles in a metal tin when spent. If you prefer Scrabble, the tin can be used for shaking the letters.
  10. Deal with any tutting from audience or actors with: Oh, get a life! It’s a free world, isn’t it?

Then, why not review your experience on www.maverickmonsters.com? All reviews will be entered into a random draw, with the winning entry published in the next edition of Trump’s Tasteless Titbits.

 

Copyright © Paul Costello December 2016

www.paulcostello.me

 

 

Being Alan Bennett

Me as Alan Bennett

Me as Alan Bennett

This morning I became Alan Bennett. It wasn’t a chance event but a mystery prize from one of those television game shows where the right answer sets off a klaxon and you win a pampering weekend for two in a Nottinghamshire spa – or in my case A Day as Alan Bennett.

The activating pill which lasts twenty four hours looked much like a paracetamol but with an A on it, and a smaller one with B would deactivate the process should I want to call it off.

It’s not every day one expects to behave in ways other than those one has grown used to and are comfortable with, and my new persona was soon put to the test by our postman Richard who has delivered to the neighbourhood for as long as I remember, his youthful appearance suggesting he can barely have been out of shorts when he first started, if indeed he ever has been, going by the Post Office variety he wears come snow or shine.

‘Sign there please,’ he said, holding out the electronic gadget.

‘Just here?’ I asked.

It must have been the soft Yorkshire accent that triggered his reaction, the bundle of letters destined for numbers seven to fifteen and neatly secured with a strong elastic band falling from his grasp.

‘You’re, you’re …’ he spluttered.

Not wishing to disappoint him one way or the other I nodded reassuringly and invited him to have as good a day as he’d offered me. It seemed only polite to linger on the doorstep and reciprocate his thumbs-up gesture as he turned from time to time to catch a further glance before disappearing round the corner eager no doubt to tell others of his discovery.

Keen to exploit my new identity I thought it a good idea to travel into town to show myself off, as it were. Walking to the bus stop into low winter sun reminded me of the West End stage or playing a Talking Head under the bright lights of a BBC studio. I found passers-by staring at me for longer than one normally dares, and if I looked round after they’d gone by they too were glancing back, much as you do if you like the look of a person and want a further viewing without being too apparent.

The bus driver too seemed baffled, happy that the photograph on my pass matched the face in front of him but unable I imagine to read the name without glasses.

‘Mind if I join you?’ I asked an elderly lady with a kind face and blue hair.

The intake of breath down the bus would have graced a reputable community choir such was its exact unison, and the usual hubbub of unintentionally malicious gossip and exchanges of medical diagnosis quickly died down. The lady with whom I’d sat went into a sort of trance, like a pheasant in front of a moving vehicle unsure where to go or what to do, her eyes glossing over and protruding in a way they might not have done since her more productive days.

‘Aren’t you, aren’t you …’ she stammered.

I nodded.

From across the aisle and two rows back another woman who apparently thought she knew better called out,

‘You’re whatisname, aren’t you? On the telly.’

I glanced round with a celebrity smile.

‘Alan Partridge!’ a man shouted from one of the rear seats in a way that, were one to have a conversation with him, there might be many points of disagreement. I nodded and shook my head like a toy dog on the back shelf of a car, neither denying nor acknowledging his claim. No-one was quite able to put their finger on who I was despite the bold initials A.B. on the cover of the notebook in which I jotted reminders.

Once inside the bus terminus it was no easy matter forcing my way through huddles of mesmerized shoppers.

‘I don’t think it is Alan Partridge,’ said one voice.

‘Sugar,’ said another.

‘Shall we follow him?’ said what sounded like the man from the back of the bus, upon which I scurried through the exit thinking it imprudent to encourage stalking even though it might provide handy material for a play.

With the novelty of celebrity wearing off I bought a woollen hat, rendering the stallholder unusually speechless, and with the removal of my spectacles and a large upturned collar thereby gained some degree of anonymity.

Browsing Waterstones shelves, my appearance provoking sideways glances as if I were a commercial spy for a rival book chain or was about to pocket some paperbacks, I became curious about a panting noise beside me, and found a young woman barely four foot in height jumping up and down, hands above her head as if performing a fitness exercise. Had she not been gasping I’d have had little notion she was there.

‘Are you all right?’ I asked, causing the usual turn of heads.

‘I’m trying to reach that book,’ she said, pointing to a shelf at least twice her height. ‘The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.’

‘Good choice,’ I said, feeling somewhat relieved that the book appeared more important than any hunch that the author was present. Much as I was tempted to offer my signature I decided there was more to be had from staying incognito and watching her pore over the sleeve, and that to sign it on the premise of a one-day passport would not in any case be quite in the spirit of the arrangement.

With the books shelved alphabetically from the top and Bennett positioned poorly out of reach, I wondered if I should stay on to help others of this height who might call in for my books between now and closing, which would in turn help towards my royalties – at least mine for the time being.

In the event I found a quiet bench by the river to review my notes, before ordering a much needed hot chocolate in a side street cafe offering sufficient privacy for me to remove my hat and coat. Perched at a narrow eating bar the kind of which is widely used by cafes to make the best of their seating and which usually offer a view of the street or occasionally a wall with local paintings for sale I was disturbed by a lady whose debilitated state reminded me of Miss Shepherd, the lady in the van.

‘Have you been waiting long?’ she said, presumably meaning the hot chocolate that hadn’t yet arrived.

Mindful of Miss Shepherd it looked as though this lady, who’d levered herself onto the stool next to me, did not herself have long to wait, leading me perhaps unfairly to reply,

‘Eighty-one years. How about you?’

‘That’s a long time for a drink and a biscuit, dear,’ she said, playing me at my own game. ‘You’re Alan Bennett aren’t you?’

‘Only for the day,’ I said, ‘but I’m really enjoying it.’

‘Oh that’s good dear. It’s nice being someone else sometimes.’

Late in the evening with my story almost complete and bed looming I considered staying as Alan Bennett overnight since the prize had been for a full day. The thought of delving into his dreams and learning his night customs was tempting, but in the event I felt it more respectful to leave that side of things for him alone to know. I finished writing while the A was still working, swallowed the B and went to bed.

*

Me

Me

 

I bumped into the postman on his rounds earlier today.

‘Hello Richard – nice and mild.’

‘Morning Paul,’ he called out cheerfully – as he went on his way.

 

 

Copyright © Paul Costello December 2015

Paul Costello – Writer       Website: www.paulcostello.me       Twitter: @PaulCostello8

 

 

 

CLICK.COM – REVIEW

Internet dating laid bare in this unflinching comedy-drama
click mouse heart
Exposing matching sites in such an entertaining way makes them far less embarrassing to own up to, says Olla Poltescu
From the off CLICK.COM gallops into the world of internet dating with Paul Smith’s  side-splitting portrayals of farmer Geoff and outrageous medallion man Donald – ‘don’t call me Donny or I’ll mimic The Osmonds’.
Recently divorced Hannah bats aside the attention of these suitors only to leave a void for other suspect characters, Vivienne Evans’ accomplished performance exposing the dilemma of a jilted woman intent on getting a life.
Janet, Deirdre and the cloying Betty, through dates with Harvey (a solid performance by promising Giles Lantos), show that problems finding a suitable partner are felt equally by both genders; I sensed a clear ‘there but for the grace of God’ murmur filtering around a crowded Bosbury Parish Hall.
With online matching sites firmly in the dating mainstream, I’d wondered what I could learn from this preview of aspiring local playwright Paul Costello’s new comedy-drama. Any doubts evaporated when, no spring chicken myself, I found it addressing the particular plight of women of a certain age; knowing nods across the room told me I was not alone. Hannah’s experiences place the sensitivity of ‘mature’ people in stark perspective. Not for them the ‘find-follow-and possibly forget’ formula that young generations arguably see as the norm; more one of a longing driven by hope eternal.
Despite its priceless humour, CLICK.COM never becomes a gratuitous exposé of dodgy dating and people behaving badly. When things aren’t going quite as they should a clever counterplot develops which, with the play’s reassuring romantic undertone, keeps the audience feeling as optimistic as feisty Hannah.
The notion of being supported by trusted others is particularly helpful. Hannah’s daughter Ellie, expertly played byHettie Guilding, (‘just chill, mum’) will be recognised by mothers across the land. The tough role of Sarah, Hannah’s fragile friend and confidante, is superbly delivered by Hilary Benoit, and even Hannah’s taxi driver (Dave Pollard) offers sound moral support.
As the plot unravels through a beautifully-worked, Ayckbournish piece of farce, it becomes clear that no-one can guarantee true love running smooth and has no absolute right that it should. Director Bob Maynard’s refreshingly funny production of this true-to-life drama undoubtedly gets that message across.
CLICK .COM is showing at Bosbury Parish Hall, near Ledbury                                     
Friday 24th/Saturday 25th July at 7.30pm    (£10)                                                           
Online: www.ticketsource.co.uk/ruraltheatreplayers  In Person: Ledbury Books and Maps, 20 High Street, Ledbury 

CLICK.COM

From the team that brought you last year’s hit comedy Terms and Conditions Apply, a new comedy drama:

click.com   – a frolic through the highs and lows of online dating

With clever use of skittish humour and farce, this original comedy drama explores the place of online matching sites in finding a partner. With particular reference to mature people and the risks for women, click.com offers a playful insight into the benefits and pitfalls of a pursuit where emotions, whether joy or despair, are driven by hope eternal. click.com poster

‘… side-splitting farce’

‘… a preposterous yet cautionary story line – look, learn and inevitably laugh!’

‘… truly outrageous characters’

‘… a cheeky tale with an undercurrent of pure romance’

Tickets now on sale:
In Person:   Ledbury Books and Maps, 20 High Street, Ledbury

 

Paul Costello – Writer       Website: www.paulcostello.me       Twitter: @PaulCostello8