Breaking the code

As you may remember, I directed a production of Breaking the Code a few years ago, and had a hugely satisfying time, with a great cast, and a gloriously intimate space. I was nervous about seeing another amateur company take this on, especially when I saw the venue, which is such a theatrically unfriendly space. The mismatched curtains and a huge space between the audience and the cast didn’t help make a shared experience. It was very much them and us. I’m guilty as a director of putting much business in to a performance that will bring out the character and plot. Sometimes the text is just the surface. I think the director’s role is to illuminate the words and characters. It’s not just get them on, sit them down, and then get them off, however slick that is and however faithful that is to the text. You really have to be responsive to the space and the audience. I’m not sure if Hugh Whitmore is still alive but I’d love him to add an epilogue to this brilliant and challenging play, as so much has changed. I did enjoy seeing this and there were some excellent performances. a good few prompts and rather too many moments of an empty silent stage, but at least this play still has a life.


Jurassic world

Well we do seem to have come a long way from Wilis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen, but without them…….

Jurassic world is certainly impressive with wet dinosaurs emerging out of smoke and so seamlessly integrated into hand held camera work, and causing such physical mayhem – I can’t imagine the preparation needed, and perhaps the rather soulless experience on set with actors staring for ever at green screens or ping pong balls on the ends of sticks – actually I can imagine that precisely as my last year has been all about that. An odd film though…..perhaps there are several films all crammed into this piece that ticks all the boxes and dares to allow us some empathy for certain dinosaurs – the suffocating bronto choked me up I will admit. I’m just not sure it all hangs together, but does it need to when you have eating and chasing and screaming. Jeff Goldblum must have thought Christmas had arrived early. Was that one days’ work?

Yep, I’ve always said that if you want to check out the state of special effects, look at the latest dinosaur movie. Any new advancement and the dinos will be first in the queue.


culture stuff – May

So we lost this website for a while, and my brother in law, Peter, has worked himself into the ground to get this new one up and running again. I’m not working at the moment, and that is a whole another story, but I’m trying to save pennies, well I have to, but fortunately I had bought a few film and theatre tickets when I was working – so I have seen a few things. I loved the film about Ian McKellen – so honest and warm and rather humble, as our british acting giants tend to be. Watching the clips of his career, on stage and on film, I wonder if he is the actor that I have seen on stage more than any other. I first saw him as Edward II, then Faustus, then Edgar in Lear. a brilliant actor, and I am thrilled that I have bumped into him a few times over the years.

then the Garrick came up trumps with Priscilla, Queen of the desert. Great performances and dancing. There was a slight chance that I could have directed and designed it, but the show has to have the paintbrushes, the cupcakes, the lizards, and I don’t think I could have had the resources to reinvent it. I could not immediately think of a new image or new theatrical language for it. after all the colour of that show, and a stage full of brashness, the Lauriston studio performed Stones in his Pockets, which is such a great play, and the two actors did it superbly, with relentless energy.

We will be in there soon with Playhouse Creatures, assuming I earn some money to keep me going till then. I do worry that work for me is about to dry up, and I’ve been put out to pasture. Such as it seems, but there’s a lot of life in this old dog yet.

40 years on

And so my involvement with the recent series ended with a bit of a whimper, fading out. I’m always happy, well I am most happy when I am working, but this has been an odd experience for most of us, simply as our contribution has been a bit limited.Read more >>

The York Realist

The Crucible, Sheffield

This is a truly beautiful, tender play, with obvious comparisons to God’s Own Country, but with a bit of the York Mystery play running quietly underneath. Delicate, moving, and yes very little happened, but what a pleasure to spend time with such lovely people.Read more >>


Only four days work this week, but at the moment every day has to count as there are not many left. It’s going to be a very lean summer I suspect. Shame there’s not a stop motion feature finishing up that I could jump on for a few months.Read more >>

Lord Marcus arrives

The combination of a bug going round and stress of work and life all got together and conspired to lay me low, and lay me low they did. For several days I was unfit for purpose and hallucinating and living in a strange flexible time – thankfully, all over that now, and whilst I am now a stone lighter, I would not recommend that as a method.Read more >>

Full on

Away from work it has been a pretty full on week, with visits to both the dentist and the doctor for the regular check ups. All good there at the moment.

Then on Monday I lead a tour of the Garrick. In pro theatre you may get 45 minutes to just select areas, but here the 17 new members got to have access all areas over well over two hours, and everyone working away on stage and backstage was very helpful. I think I did my bit to sell the theatre which was satisfying.Read more >>


I have this week been in Barcelona, teaching on the Masters in Stop Motion course at BAU. For all I saw of the city I could well have been in a suburb of Manchester – certainly, the weather for the most part, reminded me of home. Grey. But a truly international group of students, and I think we had seven languages, but thanks to a lot of pointing and some English, we got through it all. I would have loved to have given them more resources but by the end of the sessions they were producing some remarkable footage.Read more >>