In August it all kicks off, the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Daniel Perks catches up with writer and actor Matthew Floyd Jones, bringing Richard Carpenter Is Close To You to this year’s festival:

For three weeks Scotland’s capital welcomes an explosion of creative energy from around the globe.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe began in 1947 when eight theatre companies turned up uninvited to perform at the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival. The companies were refused entry to the programme but decided to perform on the fringe of the Festival anyway. The Fringe has remained true to the defiance expressed by the eight companies who performed here in 1947, upholding its open access principle that permits anyone with a story to tell and a venue willing to host them to participate.

Here at Miro Magazine, we are incredibly excited by the biggest fringe ever. So, up until the 4 August, when the fringe really kicks off, we will be profiling some of the shows playing this year and getting to know the people, theatre companies and performers that are shaping one of the strongest fringe offerings ever seen.

 

Richard Carpenter Is Close To You

Next up in our Spotlight feature is Richard Carpenter Is Close To You, which plays Edinburgh Festival from 2 – 27 August 2017. I caught up with writer and actor Matthew Floyd Jones:

Describe your show in three words.

High-octane. Hellraising. Heartwarming.

Is this your first Edinburgh Fringe performance experience?

I have been coming since 2004, and I will be coming until it is swept under the waves by a climate change catastrophe. My biggest Fringe success is what The Times referred to as the “global phenomenon” of Frisky & Mannish, but I have also played a murderous comedian, a psychotic child, a soldier, a rat, a testicle and Kenny Everett.

Who else are you most looking forward to seeing while at the Fringe?

I think it’s got to be DollyWould by Sh!t Theatre. It just sounds so classic Fringe.

How do you feel to be performing at Underbelly George Square?

I feel like getting into a comforting warm bath. The Underbelly was both my student hang-out and my professional career launch pad, so there is never really a question about going back there. I always think it’s the most truly varied and interesting of the major venues’ programmes. My favourite shows each year are invariably Underbelly ones.

Who or what are your inspirations?

Everywhere. Ruthie Henshall was my childhood talent crush. Bernadette Peters is the lifetime achiever. Barbara Harris is an actual genius. Beatrice Arthur was my citrus queen. Madeline Kahn was breathtakingly deft. Dorothy Loudon squeezed every last drop out of it. Gwen Verdon will never be repeated. It’s mostly older American female hoofers…  no idea why! I watch clips of them when I need reminding what’s possible in performance.

What is your secret to surviving the intense, fast pace of the fringe?

I don’t survive it, I thrive on it. If anything, I want it to go faster! It’s only one month of every year, so I put everything else on hold and rinse it for all it’s worth.

What are the future plans for your show?

I have already done a small-scale UK preview tour, but I am definitely hoping to do a bigger-scale one next year, and if I can get it overseas to the Australian fringes, or even America, then I will feel very proud indeed. But there isn’t a more specific dream than that – it’s an open highway towards a colourful horizon, and I’ll ride this donkey as far as I can.

What is the best production you have seen this year – can be any genre, style, in any theatre or performance space?

A play called Rotterdam, which won an Olivier Award and recently played at the Arts Theatre in London. It’s written by a friend and collaborator of mine, Jon Brittain – we actually wrote a show together that will also be playing at Fringe this year (A Super Happy Story About Feeling Super Sad, Pleasance Courtyard). But Rotterdam is really something so special – it’s breathtaking, really.

Is there anything else you want to highlight about your show/ theatre company/ production?

I want to reassure people that you don’t need to be some kind of crazed Carpenters obsessive to enjoy this show. It’s about Richard Carpenter as much as King Lear is about the real historical King Leir, if you know what I mean. You don’t have to know about ancient Briton pseudohistorical genealogy to enjoy a fabulous dramatic play about an incredibly fascinating character… I’ve even had people come up to me and say “I don’t even like The Carpenters, but I loved that!” So there you go – no excuses.

 

Richard Carpenter Is Close To You plays Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 from 2 – 27 August 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

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