Chris Goode has been dubbed British theatre's greatest maverick talent. But don't be put off: his award-winning work as a director, writer and actor is much more enticing than that label suggests. The 35-year-old first won plaudits at the Edinburgh Fringe with his Tempest, which, on being booked, he'd perform in your own home. "That started – when I was [a student] at Cambridge – with the idea of embedding a play in people's parties," he explains. "Then I read Peter Hall saying it was impossible to do Shakespeare in small rooms. That was a red rag."
More "home performances" followed, and the young all-rounder also took on Camden People's Theatre, turning it into a small hub of experimentalism. Nurtured by Plymouth's Drum Theatre, Goode became an international hit, transferring to Sydney Opera House with Kiss of Life, his solo show about a lonely telemarketer, also called Chris, who finds love with a suicidal stranger.
His new autobiographical fantasy, The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley, is about an artistic teenage boy with a girl's name, who's stuck in suburbia, feeling like a weirdo until Wound Man – a superhero whose special power is empathy – moves in down the street.
Wound Man was inspired by an illustration in a Renaissance medical textbook Goode happened upon as a schoolboy. It depicted a man in a thong, pierced with an armoury of weapons. "It stuck in my head, then popped up again when I was writing an article about the language of pain in comic books and was asked to create a production for the Queer Up North festival. That picture freaked me out," he recalls, "but it also slightly turned me on..."
'The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley' is touring nationally. For more info: tinyurl.com/pgc7wk