‘Henners’ was conceived when Maddie and I were at drama school together. Henry VIII is such an iconic figure in history. Everyone remembers learning the 'divorced beheaded died' rhyme at school! The idea of couples counselling was Maddie’s brainchild, Henry had such rocky relationships and outrageous antics, it was just a comedic gold mine. We initially created the show for our end of year showcase, instantly we got a great response and we realised we couldn’t stop. We have performed it in two Fringes, Clapham and Guildford, and we have just watched it grow. We have recently got an amazing new director, Niamh Handley-Vaughan, who has transformed the piece and really helped us to hone and define the characters. We also rely heavily on pop-culture references so the play is constantly getting updated and reviewed in order to keep up with the current trends.
And what's the background of your theatre company?
Tickled Gecko was created when we were students at The Forge Initiative. Our training was in Devised Theatre and the intention of the course was to graduate with the tools needed to create your own work. Our style is very collaborative, we write and devise all our work together using each other to bounce ideas off. We started off as specialising in comedy, hence ‘Henners’, but we are trying new things in our more recent work and seeing where it takes us. Inevitably though, comedy is our core so I am sure we won’t stray too far.
Who are the people involved?
Laura Hall, Maddie O’Brien and Ryan Moss wrote the initial version of the play, since then, the girls have continued to develop and edit it. Laura Hall and Maddie O’Brien run the theatre company and also multi-role alternating between playing the wives and the marriage counsellors. The wonderful Matthew Farmer plays King Henry VIII and the ridiculous character of the Trumpeter is played by Sam Jarvis. Not forgetting Tickled Gecko’s truly talented director Niamh Handley-Vaughan.
For how long have you been working on this show and how has it changed over time?
It has been just over a year since we first started work on ‘Henners’. It has developed so much over time, having a director in the room with a pair of fresh eyes has really helped our characters grow. Following the Guildford Fringe, we have been taking time to workshop ‘Henners’; we are playing with the comedy of it and constantly updating the pop-culture references. It is ten times the show it once was and as it has grown so has our love for the piece. One thing that never changes is just how fun and hilarious it is to perform.
What were the biggest challenges in bringing your show to life?
The thing with comedy is that it is can be so subjective and what may seem funny when we were writing and devising it may not transfer on stage so well. That is why we took so much time reworking and trying out our production to various audiences so we could really nail down what material is making the audience laugh and where we can run with it. We always wanted to keep the show historically accurate (to a certain extent...) which is hard to do whilst writing a comedy that modern audiences would like and understand.
And what can we most look forward to from your production?
Lots of laughs and a bit more of an adult education on the horrible king.
Henners is on 10th & 11th September at 7.30pm