Ipswich: Arguing for a living, Slap Talk at PULSE

Action Heros Slap Talk is more than four hours of esculating insults and self-aggrandizing.

Action Heros Slap Talk is more than four hours of esculating insults and self-aggrandizing. - Credit: Archant

How many couples get to argue for a living?

“Because we’re interested in the different kinds of conflicts, arguments that people might have we’ve definitely written things that sound like a domestic argument between a couple,” laughs Gemma Paintin as we talk about Slap Talk, part of this year’s PULSE Fringe Festival.

“We’ll either have a real argument or we’ll be like ‘oh I feel much better’.”

She and real-life other half James Stenhouse are getting ready for a fight and their latest work in progress is the press conference.

As the insults and self-aggrandizing become more extreme the conversation becomes a linguistic version of the fight and then of life itself.


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“We had been interested for a long time in the pre-fight hype before boxing matches. There was something really interesting and theatrical about these big guys squaring up to each other and talking about how they’re going to beat each other.

“We started writing bits of bits of text as if we were in that situation for fun really. It carried on from there and we started developing longer pieces that became about lots of different things. We were interested in violence within language and how you can make anything sound violent if you wanted,” she laughs.

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A four-and-a-half durational piece that audiences can wander in and out of, Gemma and James - aka Action Hero - read from two continously scrolling autocues, their performances fed live to two large TV monitors.

“It’s all scripted but when we do it at PULSE it’ll be a work in progress… that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to try the piece out, to see whether we feel like we want to change things or whether after three hours we’re getting really bored,” laughs Gemma, “and want to go off script. We’re having a lot of fun rehearsing it.”

The pair plan to stage it over 24 continous hours in the future.

“In an ideal world it would be really great; it makes me think of 24-hour rolling news and those kinds of things. I don’t know how realistic that is,” she laughs. “We’ll see how it goes. We might do four-and-a-half hours at PULSE and feel ‘oh that’s easy we could’ve gone for another 20’ or ‘I couldn’t do a second longer’.”

Slap Talk runs from 3.10pm at the New Wolsey Theatre on June 1.

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