Cambridge and the Kidnapped Carrot
Sunday, November 8th: It was a clash of the leviathans. Chelsea and Manchester United, the only two teams who can now reasonably win the league, met for a kickabout. They are two of the only four teams that ever win anything in the English Premier League. These four have the most money, the best players, the greatest clout with referees. Just occasionally, however, smaller teams are cute and smart enough to beat them. Rarer still are the minnows who grab some silverware from under the noses of the four-team establishment.
As with football, the arts are similarly divided by rank, influence and wealth. On Sunday the 8th, however, Leicestershire outsiders travelled to an away fixture in Cambridge. Keith Large, a Loughborough writer, had won the rare accolade of having his 45 minute play, Carrot Nappers, read by professional actors at the legendary ADC theatre (erstwhile lair of the Cambridge Mafia). Keith took his team –including my good self– down to the performance. He even brought cake for everyone!Carrot Nappers is that rare thing in modern British theatre: a no-holds-barred, unapologetic ‘Carry-On’ style farce. The plot involves the theft of a 17-foot prize-winning carrot from an allotment. Vegilante Vinnie (Gary Mooney), the security guard who failed to protect the lengthy vegetable, plots to get it back. With the help of his third-best girlfriend Lisa (Genevieve Cleghorn) and the allures of the allotment’s “love-shed”, they set a honey-trap for the main suspect; the devious and amorous Onionhead (Steve Kantor). Acted with gusto, the vegetable-themed puns and snappy one-liners just kept on coming. In the end Onionhead lost his trousers and the play’s director (Francesca Brown) made an appearance as the carrot itself, returned to Vinny, Lisa and his pal Albert (Tim Waterfield) –who gets the girl in the end. Fabulous stuff. The readings were organized by the Write On! Cambridge scriptwriting forum. An annual competition selects the best script submissions and performs them in front of an audience. This year, Naked Stage 09 held 14 readings, selected from a huge number of entries. The deal is that two or three play readings (per event) are performed and then the audience is invited to comment and critique. It is an opportunity for the writer to receive feedback and engage with a live audience.
In the case of Carrot Nappers, however, it was the actors who spoke –rather enthused– about the play. They loved it, explaining that it was a rare opportunity for them to play larger-than-life characters and to really have fun. All the actors involved in Naked Stage 09 had wanted to perform this play. Those that did, really did it justice. I was amazed to learn that they had reached their high level of performance after only three rehearsals. The craft and expertise of these actors was humbling to behold.Memories of the day? The sightseeing with fellow Carrot-heads Keith Morley, Maria Smith (great driver and photographer) and the playwright himself, Mr Large. The carrying of the carrot cakes back and forth from car to theatre to storage area and back. Meeting a bunch of talented actors and directors happy to help bring new authors to the stage. Most of all, it was knowing that we can win away from home. Keith Large in Theatre, Mehul Desai in Film and Graham Joyce in novel-writing: all from Leicestershire, all prize winners in 2009, all proving that minnows can have their day. Get in!
Posted on November 10, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged ADC Theatre, Cambridge and the kidnapped carrot, Carrot Nappers, daniel ribot, floppybootstomp compress, Francesca Brown, Gary Mooney, Genevieve Cleghorn, Keith Large, Keith Morley, Maria Smith, Steve Kantor, Tim Waterfield. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.