Observations: Poetry scores with Scrabble
Friday 29 January 2010
Who knew Scrabble could be so exciting? It is normally the kind of game you might play with your gran, but poetic theatre collective Pen-ultimate are putting on their first full-length play, A Night on the Tiles, at the Contact Theatre in Manchester and giving the board game a whole new underworld spin. The plot revolves around Harry "The Hackney Hacker" Jones, a 78-year-old ex-SAS gangster who returns from retirement. He decides to gather the biggest Scrabble players from around the world together for one last, big, high-stakes game.
A send-up of several gangster movies mashed together (think Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Kill Bill and Fight Club), the entire show is written entirely in rhyming verse and aims to be a light-hearted play on linguistics. The five-person collective, which formed three years ago and specialises in off-the-wall poetry sets, includes Martin Stannage and Ben Mellor, who recently won the Radio 4 Poetry Slam.
For this, their first play, the group hooked up with US hip-hop theatre pioneer Will Power, who came over from the States to work on the script.
"As several hip-hop artists are in the collective, people assume it's a hip-hop show but we call it poetic theatre," says Ali Gadema, who plays the Hackney Hacker. "It's a shout-out to old-school British comedians like Peter Sellers and Peter Cook,"
4 to 13 February; www.contact-theatre.org
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