Heads Up: Ten Plagues

Mark my words – Almond paints it black for Ravenhill

Holly Williams
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:14

What are we talking about?

A one-man show at Edinburgh's fringe, combining music, theatre and opera, and based on "eye-witness accounts" of the plague in London in 1665.

Elevator Pitch

A plague from both their houses: Mark Ravenhill and Marc Almond's black collaboration.

Prime Movers

Mark Ravenhill, who wrote Shopping and Fucking, is responsible for the libretto. Musical dramatist Conor Mitchell will provide the score, while Stewart Laing – who won a Tony award for the design of Titanic on Broadway – both directs and designs.

The Stars

Marc Almond, formerly of Soft Cell, performs the show solo.

The Early Buzz

An interviewer in The Herald asked, "given his penchant for high drama, both in his well-documented personal life and in his professional one, why has it taken Almond until now to tackle a fully fledged piece of theatre?" to which Almond replied "I've always been somebody desperate to stay in my comfort zone." Mark Fisher wrote in The Guardian: " Thirty years ago, Marc Almond was a slightly built man who wore black eyeliner and studded wrist bands and sang outre songs about seedy films and sex dwarves. He then spent the next 20 years in a rock'n'roll haze induced by cocaine, crack, ecstasy, ethyl chloride, Halcion, heroin, LSD, MDA, mescaline, opium, purple haze, ketamine, speed, sleeping pills and Valium... He was not, in other words, the sort of person you would expect to see turning up in a sophisticated song cycle about life in the 17th century ... Yet reset the clock to 2011 and here he is, gearing up for a prime Edinburgh fringe slot in Ten Plagues."

Insider Knowledge

The project came about after Almond saw Ravenhill's play about 18th century male brothels, Mother Clap's Molly House, and told him he'd like to collaborate.

It's great that...

Ravenhill has cast his net wide for sources and inspiration – Ten Plagues draws on Susan Sontag's Aids and its Metaphors for modern parallels aswell as historical sources such as Samuel Pepys' diary.

It's a shame that...

Partly due to Almond's own poor health, the play is on in a mid-afternoon slot. With its dark subject matter, Ten Plagues might have made for ideal atmospheric late-night fringe viewing.

Hit Potential

Sure to be a hot festival ticket.

The Details

Ten Plagues is at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (traverse.co.uk), 1 to 28 Aug.

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