Latitude 2010: Sex, Drugs & Booze – oh and Apples

Well, it is a festival after all.  In amongst all the sophisticated theatre and intellectual poetry, there's got to be some Bacchanal going on somewhere, right?  Well, while I'm sure that somewhere in the grounds, there are, doubtless, pockets of debauchery, I'm actually talking about the review given by Time Out to Apples, the novel by Richard Milward which has now become a stage play courtesy of a collaboration between Northern Stage and Company of Angels.

“This is the first stage adaptation of Richard's debut novel,” explains Jo Cundall, the producer.  “He wrote it when he was 19 and it was published about four years ago.  It's a bit of an ode to Middlesbrough, it follows a school year in the lives of two characters.  It's a bit of a Lord of the Flies feel, basically a love story between Adam, a sort of geeky, nerdy type and Eve, a bit of a wild child who drinks a lot, drugs a lot and has a lot of sex.”

It's very funny, it has a lot of dramatic tension, it has a lot of music in it, from The Beatles to Tina Turner and Queen

Drink, drugs, and sex – now this sounds like a stereotypical festival? “It's very much a festival show,” Cundall laughs.  “It's very funny, it has a lot of dramatic tension, it has a lot of music in it, from The Beatles to Tina Turner and Queen, and it has a lot of monkey music in it.  Which is this very kind of electro, tinny sounding music, that kids play on the back of the bus!  It ticks a lot of the boxes that people who go to festivals would like.  It's a really colourful piece, in terms of the language and the way it's presented.  Richard, the author, is also a visual artist and he's painted the set for us.  So that's all in these very vibrant, technicolour, neon colours.  It has a real summery feel.”

Apples sounds like it could have been created just for Latitude. “Well, this is a co-production between Northern Stage and Company of Angels and originally we really wanted to tour it and hit the festivals – Latitude, Middlesbrough Music Live and Edinburgh, so really, those festivals dictated the dates that we could tour.”

Photo: Marc Sethi

The challenge of Latitude is not just in presenting a piece that will appeal to the audience there, but also in acknowledging that the Latitude audience is quite different to a conventional audience.  “We've come up with some ideas for how we can market it especially for Latitude,” Cundall agrees.  ” Some of the characters will be out in costume and in character around the campsite.  They'll be out there with the festival goers, looking a bit feral and shifty!  In keeping with the eco-credentials of Latitude we won't be doing lots of flyering, we'll be handing out badges and promoting the show virally like that.”

They're all completely up for it, they've all packed their baby wipes!  I'm really up for it.

The other challenge of Latitude is keeping an eye on the company – who all sleep out in tents just like everyone else.  How has that gone done with the cast of Apples?  “I can't wait!” exclaims Jo, “and the whole cast are looking forward to it too.  Actually some of them are staying a friends house beforehand.”  Cheating! “No, no,” Cundall assures me, “they'll be moving on to the campsite after the show!  They're all completely up for it, they've all packed their baby wipes!  I'm really up for it.  I'm definitely staying on the campsite.”

With two late night slots, Cundall has plenty of time to explore the festival too: “I'm really looking forward to Liverpool Playhouse, and Les Enfants Terribles,” she says, giving The Drama Student her personal to picks. “But our show, is just great, we're so excited about it.  It's a bit grim in places maybe, but truly it's a celebratory piece, it's about celebrating where you're from.  It's really joyous, and taking it to Latitude is a real coup for us, we're so delighted that we've pulled this off. It makes you want to get up and dance, and whoop and cheer.  It's got festival written all over it.”

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