Right… much has already been written about how 2016 served up a highly unappetising smorgasbörd of horrors – nightmarish political scenarios coming true, global terrors, celebrity cullings and, for many, not inconsiderable challenge on a personal level.
As for me, it’s been a twisty-turny year of unexpected opportunities and outcomes… amongst the usual voiceoverings and the odd short film I’ve collided with a fair few inspiring people who (whether they like it or not) I have co-opted into my singular wee tribe of collaborators. I’m heading into the new year feeling calm, determined and courageous – honed and cheered by some excellent creative endeavours I decided to say a big old ‘yes’ to in 2016…
* Being drafted in by producer Andrew Wright to direct Footloose for Chichester University Combined Honours in March and working alongside the likes of the brilliantly talented MD Matt Greaves and mercurially gifted choreographer Tom Jackson-Greaves (no relation) was an unexpected treat. I learnt so much from my fellow creatives and the enthusiastic, open-hearted 23-strong cast were the gift that kept on giving. A joy!
* Four delicious gigs with the delightful Silver Swans – this is the year we will do some recordings! It’s about time…
* Had the honour of hosting two post-comedy gig Q&As at Brighton’s Corn Exchange with the incisively brilliant Sara Pascoe and Bridget Christie. A highlight of my Brighton Festival, never mind anyone else’s!
* Two high-octane Club Clicks in May and December, where the Diva donned her ‘fro and took to the dance floor with her dazzling lads again…
* Back to Chichester University again in October, for Moira Buffini’s Loveplay – an intensive ‘play in a week’ project where the students arrived – research done and lines learnt – to work with a highly swanky finished set, rigged lights and a sound design built as we went along. Another vertiginous learning curve… I was hugely proud of their commitment and focus and once again enjoyed working with some top-notch talent – stage manager supremo Jordan Whitwell, lighting whizz Aaron J Dootson and sound lord Mark Cunningham.
* November saw the publication of The Odditorium – The tricksters, eccentrics, deviants and inventors whose obsessions changed the world. click here to purchase I contributed a chapter about Russian author and founder of objectivism, Ayn Rand; who I have a particular (morbid) fascination with, having attempted to make a piece of theatre centring on her zero-empathy and dodgy views on altruism. Anyway – here’s me doing a talk at the launch and with editors, David Bramwell and Jo Keeling.
Here’s to a truly corking 2017… Can’t wait.
It’s been a year of cracking creative fun, artistic industry and true variety, so here’s the edited highlights, with a selection of photographic evidence!
Silver Swans gigs @ Bom-Banes, for Valentines’ Day as well as opening up for one of Stewart Lee‘s underground gigs, plus a fun event celebrating the centenary of Brighton and Hove’s French Circle, with a fulsome set featuring Brel, Barbara, Francois Hardy and trad French folk; all rounded off with the honour of supporting the fantastic Dead Belgian in June.
Club Click‘s disco Diva DilEmma Kilbey was born, supported by her wonderful backing dancers, Toby Park and Ivan Fabrega (AKA The Hot Pockets), belting out high-energy tracks to close Brighton’s May Fringe Festival in the glorious Spiegeltent as well as a festive Yule groove at The Old Market.
Radio City Theatre performed an outdoor gig at Brighton’s glorious open-air theatre (B.O.A.T), treating a hearty and happy crowd to a Poldark special, featuring Ruby Bentall, who plays Verity in the BBC hit series.
Debuted new piece, Trace at the Supersonic Festival with Sarah Angliss with old-school automata, cine film, a blink-operated slide show and our original poetic text; more performances TBC in 2016.
Reprised co-lead role of Trisha for a second series of comedy Future of Radio for Radio 4, recorded in summer 2015, broadcasting January and February 2016.
In November, Radio City’s fondly irreverent version of ‘Brief Encounter’ was invited to be part of the 70th anniversary of the film at Milton Keynes Rail HQ.
As they were both too caught up with seasonal shenanigans to present their annual Christmas Special, Sid and Valerie recorded a merry festive message… with a nod to a certain ‘man-in-the-moon’ themed seasonal ad… Larks as ever with my award-winning partner-in-comedy-crime, Sue MacLaine.
The year finished in a cockle-warming, bonnet-donning, candlelit fashion with the delightfully successful ‘A Christmas Carol’ at The Spire, directed by Gary Sefton in the incredibly atmospheric Kemptown church space.
Three fantastically rewarding reviews here:
Am thrilled to be a part of this exciting live event for Cinecity Festival at The Duke of York’s cinema in Brighton – an original adaptation of Wyndhams’ classic sci-fi spookfest, accompanied by an eerily brilliant live score courtesy of the excellent Spacedog.
Friday, December 5th @ 7pm.
This Sixties pastiche has the combined touch of Carry Ons, Ealing Comedies and Boulting Brothers movies and focuses on a woefully incompetent market research company and their attempts to re-launch a cure-all product… Fantastic songs and nutty characters, it’s a fast-moving hoot-and-a-half. And I channel Pat Coombs.
The Opinion Makers
By Brian Mitchell & Joseph Nixon
(Big Daddy Vs. Giant Haystacks, Those Magnificent Men and Seven Studies in Salesmanship)
The Latest Music Bar
14 – 17 Manchester Street, Brighton BN2 1TF; Tel: 01273 687171
As part of BRIGHTON FRINGE
Monday 5th, Tuesday 6th & Sunday 11th May
8pm (lasts two hours including interval)
£10/£8 (concs.) Box Office: 01273 917272. Book here
Click here for our promo
See audience comments from our previews
‘Leaves the audience crying with laughter’ – Colchester Gazette
‘Sublime heights of ridiculousness’ – Public Reviews
The newly formed Barker & Larkin productions (Emma Kilbey and Caroline Hunt) are pleased as punch to have been selected for Ferment at Bristol Old Vic with our new piece; The Will of Ayn… Working alongside talented performer Henry Garrett (Zero Dark Thirty, The Wicker Tree, Skins) we’re approaching the final hurdle of a complex and knotty R&D process, looking at the undeniable impact of the Russian author, philosopher and founder of Objectivism on those around her as well as the political scene. Controversial! And grimly fascinating, as Rand’s ideas continue to resonate and influence today’s economic world stage.
We’re on at 8.15 in Bristol Old Vic studio on Wednesday 29th January and tickets are £5. Have a peek at our show and a mosey at what else is on here: Ferment – Bristol Old Vic
Very much looking forward to enjoying some festive familial ding dongs and merrily on hi-jinx with Sue MacLaine and guests… We hit the Dome Studio in Brighton 13th and 14th December.
‘Old time vaudevillian and tap dancer Sid Lester helped make Variety great; now he wants one last shot. With the help of his aspirational daughter Valerie, he conjures a Variety evening full of festive fun. As Sid’s old mucker, the avant-garde director Tadeusz Kantor once said, ‘what can be seen on stage is the act of creation, the process of memory, the fate of the artist and a work of art’.
Sid Lester’s Christmas Special expands the concept to take in Christmas carols, brass bands, talking birds, ventriloquism, nifty footwork, paper chains, old school patter and audience participation. With Emma Kilbey and chums.’
Old time vaudevillian, drugstore tap dancer and acrobat, Sid Lester helped make variety great and now he wants one last shot. He is resentfully assisted by his daughter Valerie, eager to launch a new career as singer/impressionist and leave her job as a taxicab controller behind. Sid’s performance style is influenced by his old chums Tadeusz Kantor and Tommy Cooper; Valerie’s by Shirley Bassey. Together they attempt to entertain with balloons, a raffle, talking birds, toffees, some singing, jokes, a shuffle step hop, guest spots and interactive games.
Joyce Macmillan’s Scotsman review here.