January 2019 meeting review

Sussex Playwrights January 6th 2019

Happy New Year!

All about Sussex Playwrights’ January meeting for writers, actors, producers – anyone interested in new drama and all media.

Special guests:

Brighton’s TBC Audio producer / director Simon Moorhead brings all the latest news of his current work – the huge online audio drama project The Other 1%, recently mentioned in the BBC Sounds’ Drama Podcast Report. Essential networking for writers and actors in the region!

Writers, actors, crew, post production work – this series is almost entirely Sussex-created and made.

Fascinating insights and essential networking opportunity for any writer or actor interested in connecting with a commissioning producer working in the city.

Philippa Hammond gives a live performance of Delicacy, a brand new monologue by Grant Gillespie and Laura Lockington, which will also shortly be recorded for the series.

And writer-actor-producer Robert Cohen will be performing a preview extract from his solo show ‘Hi Vis’, which will be running at Sweet Venues in February, followed by discussion on the practicalities of writing, performing and producing solo work.


‘January kicked off with a high turnout, high-energy meeting. And if it wasn’t for that riveting one-act play we had exactly a year ago J A Allen’s The Engagement, it was as it were riveting in rivets. The envelope of SPC was pushed again.

And it’s now a go-to for writers wishing to look for radio commissions. Whilst theatre will always be the core of SPC, this reinvigorating of SPC’s core function, getting writers into professional engagements, reconnects us with the world of Constance Cox, a founder member who often had plays on at the West End or commissions with the BBC.

Simon Moorhead producer/director of TBC Audio was back to introduce some exceptionally spooked readings that are about to get canned. That is, Moorhead’s production team with cast, crew, recording studios and audio-podcasts that are now amongst the 10% most-listened to in the UK. And that doesn’t even take into account the rest of the world where in fact TBC Audio garners most of its loyal listeners. Sussex-based, it’s a new force pulling in a range of new and experienced writers, several of whom have worked with Moorhead at the BBC.

Enough puff. Moorhead introduced a new strand and orientation for TBC. The Other 1% has concentrated on the unexplained 1&5 of phenomena that can’t be explained away, whether psychic, alien or sci-fi dystopia.

Now the emphasis will also be on adult content. Just hwo adult…. We found out. Philippa Hammond gave a live performance of Delicacy, ‘a brand new monologue by Grant Gillespie and Laura Lockington’. And it’s branding all right, its storyline signaling an exciting disturbing new direction that can’t be given away. A food vlogger divulges to her unseen audience what delicacies she’s envisaged, things like orangutans fried in palm oil… you get the whiff. Styled in the persuasive sensory enticements in presenter style so enamored of the BBC, it crosses cooking with a glistening of porn. Hammond has the gift of teasing out unreason in a perfectly reasonable way, with a kick of vlogger sexiness, the kind vloggers sue to get your attention. And this one does. The mild culinary horrors multiply in Hammond’s delight, till she makes use of something you never thought she would.

Robert Cohen was back too to discuss his 2011 solo play High-Vis, now part of a trilogy of Men Without Friends alongside his McCarthyite-smashing masterpiece The Trials of Harvey Matusow based on real documents housed at Sussex University, and Something Rotten, from Hamlet’s uncle’s point of view. High Vis, the middle one, seemed to me the weakest when I saw it, concerning a man with OCD re-assigned as traffic warden then re-assigned again without quite understanding why he’s so loathed.

Cohen this time performed the piece with a snap and extra edge of dark that convinced me that with the tightening he’s given it, the piece can hold its own with its companions, though its scope is never going to trump as it were the real-life of the one and the real-imagined of the other riffing easily as it does on a famed theatrical villain. Cohen catches the delusion and pathos and even more, the imagined characters flitting across his face with their disdain, dislike, even fear. The man’s blank pathos is pitiable. Cohen’s cornered the market here in unlovable men with different degrees of illusion, or disillusion. I’m really glad to have been re-acquainted with this play. It’d be good now to hear more of Cohen’s twenty-eight plays written on a play-a-day challenge last year. Cohen took a few questions. High Vis is running at Sweet Venues The Welly in February’. Simon Jenner