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Patrick Kealey in performance; Barnstaple Fringe Festival

Patrick Kealey in performance; Barnstaple Fringe Festival. Photo: Peter Mould

Theatre Nation at Hastings Fringe 2019

Theatre Nation’s Patrick Kealey and Tom Daldry bring two dynamic productions to Hastings this month, writes A. Vasudevan. Part of Hastings Fringe 2019, Kealey’s one-man show, The Life and Rhymes of Archy and Mehitabel, opens at The St Leonards Pub, and Daldry’s self-penned black comedy Polyamory? at The Pig’s Palace.

Kealey’s show is an adaptation of Don Marquis’ bitingly satirical cult writing from the 1920s and 30s. The actor’s self-proclaimed ‘party piece’, a work he’s performed for more than 20 years, globally, it centres on Archy the Cockroach, a former free-verse poet reincarnated, who writes poems for his human owner, ‘Boss’. The pieces detail Archy’s adventures and those of other characters like Mehitabel the Cat, who believes she was Cleopatra in a former life.

Despite being written almost 100 years ago, Marquis’ work is very much of our time. A prophetic work, Archy and Mehitabel highlights climate change – a colony of ‘ants’ report to Archy about how planet Earth is on its way to becoming a desert and how there will soon be nothing left.

‘I’ve seen the effect it has on audiences,’ says Daldry. ‘It makes a powerful climax to the piece.’


Polyamory?, Peter Mould

Daldry’s own play, Polyamory?, is a darkly funny psychodrama, focusing on a ménage à trois. Mark is an older, power-mad fantasist who enjoys role play. Blogger Alice and Tim are the younger couple who live in his house, caught up in his games, essentially in order to have somewhere to stay. Mark views the relationship as a polyamorous arrangement, yet Alice and Tim are affected by it emotionally and mentally.

Daldry was inspired both by Tory MP Andrew Griffiths’ sexting scandal involving two younger women and his own personal experiences of a polyamorous relationship.

“It wasn’t ‘polyamory in practice”, he comments – not a healthy, loving experience between multiple partners but rather “an abusive relationship masquerading as ‘polyamory'”’.

“I wanted to dramatise this experience”, he says, “and connect it to what I see as wider social problems: namely, the generation gap, the way relationships are increasingly (and strangely seductively) mediated through technology, and mental health.”

Both Archy and Mehitabel and Polyamory? showcase Theatre Nation’s commitment to producing bold, innovative and exciting work.

The Life and Rhymes of Archy and Mehitabel, The St Leonard’s Pub, London Road on 21 July, 3pm; 22 and 23 July, 7.30pm. Polyamory?, The Pig’s Palace, White Rock on 26 July, 9pm; 27 and 28 July 7.30pm. Also at the Printers Playhouse, Eastbourne, 2 and 3 August, 7.45pm. Both plays are part of Hastings Fringe 2019.

 Tickets are £10 or £8 concessions. Book through

Photo credits: Patrick Kealey in performance; Barnstaple Fringe Festival. Polyamory?, Peter Mould.

See also: ‘I am Hamlet, you are Hamlet, we are Hamlet – Theatre Nation and the Great Dane

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Posted 19:06 Sunday, Jul 21, 2019 In: Performance

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