Family-friendly New Wolsey play to be available for free on audio
- Credit: Archant
New technology has always helped theatre companies expand their horizons. The arrival of the Coronavirus lockdown has made companies become even more inventive. Producer Matthew Linley explains how one production left the stage and became an audio drama.
Had life continued as normal, next week at the New Wolsey Theatre you would have seen a Suffolk-based play/performance entitled The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps. But, these are not normal times and this epic Gothic poem, inspired by the haunting presence of Butley Priory, has been reinvented, in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, to live in a new space, a space where we the audience provide the images.
The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps has been re-imaged and re-staged by writer-actor Murray Lachlan Young and creative producer Matthew Linley as a digital download, an audio performance which allows our imaginations to provide the suspense and fill the dark shadows with our own darkest fears.
With ghosts, witches, fairy folk and a classic tussle between good and evil, Raddlesham Mumps reflects Lachlan Young’s passion for sweeping, Gothic and absurdly comic children’s poetry. Inspired by Butley Priory’s Gothic spookiness, the play/poem places young, innocent, curly-haired Crispin, at the centre of a creepy story. When the brave young hero, inherits his parents’ stately home, the eponymous Raddlesham Mumps, the seven-year-old begins a bizarre and entertaining voyage of discovery. With Kenilworth, the ancient butler, as his guide, Crispin gradually learns the truth behind the untimely deaths of his deeply eccentric ancestors.
It’s a concept ideally suited to inspiring mind pictures in the mind of its audience. The poem has been developed as a book and an interactive Virtual Reality experience which has been available as a pre-show attraction during the theatre tour
Matthew Linley said that they both had become increasingly interested in developing a project which could exist on different platforms and give the audience a different experience on each while telling the same story.
“Murray Lachlan Young and I have been working on and off for some 10 years, and during that time we’ve become increasingly interested in the way that online medias can be used to tell stories,” he said.
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“Murray after all is one of those performers who is equally at home on a live stage as he is in the digital space (he is BBC 6 Music poet in residence), so when we started work together on The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps we were interested in the different forms the story might be told.
“Today its available as book, as a studio album (during lock down its freely available on soundcloud), as a game (on google play store, search Raddlesham Mumps), as a VR experience (oculus go store search Raddlesham Mumps) and hopefully - when this virus leaves us the live show (which was due to play New Wolsey in April) will return.
“These are five ways of experiencing the story - all different but all with some form of commonality.”
Part of the development journey as been a collaboration with the University of Essex through their EIRA scheme which connects businesses to universities. They intend to extend this collaboration with next project – Iffly Sney and the Tandlesham Nook
“We were due to be developing Iffly Sney in rehearsal rooms in Suffolk, London and the North West this spring - but then the virus hit - and like the tour of Raddlesham Mumps our original plans have had to be ripped up. But we didn’t want to lose the momentum we had, so we will be developing Iffly Sney in a digital rehearsal room.”
The team will be in their own homes up and down the country exploring how this new story – which tells of twins Atom and Lunar, their giant uncle Iffly Sney and the mysterious Old Mother Redbeard - can be told both on stage and in the digital space.
“Going online - perversely - is going to allow us to involve lots more creative people in our journey and that’s particularly exciting. What’s also exciting is how we will be able to involve children in our storytelling - right now we’re working with local teachers to develop some learning resources which actually mean children will be the first people in the world to get to play with Murray’s words and their ideas will influence our rehearsals.
“So, although we have had to rip up our plans for Iffly and start all over again we’re really excited by where this digital creative journey is going to take us. Watch this space.”
The free audio version of The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps which people can listen to and mentally escape the bonds of isolation can be found here