Dr Space Toad’s acting career began in Norwich as when returning there briefly from his London experience which had left him stupefied , confused, confounded and dumbfounded by the absurdity of life, at least his own life. So his only answer was to get involved in the Theatre as it seemed that his life was already some surrealistic play and as Shakespeare had said all the world is a stage so he thought well you might as well get on that stage then as you are actually already on it so you have no choice. By an extraordinary coincidence he got of the train and bumped into a girl who said they were looking for actors. Hence he auditioned and first acted in a production called ‘It is a pity she’s a whore’ by John Ford. He played the part of a charlatan doctor and after a month of rehearsals, he was thrown in the deep end when the company went to the Edinburgh festival to perform. The play was a great success was reviewed favourably in the local press. Often, after the play he would play his music in the festival club.His next acting appearance was as the narrator in Brecht’s ‘Three penny opera’ in which he sang ‘Mac the knife’. This performance took place in the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich and was also a success. Later that year, in the same theatre, he played the part of the minstrel (a part which came very easily to him!!) in Ben Johnson’s ‘Bartholomew Fair’. In this play, he also played the mandolin and composed the music.
Here is a photo of Space Toad (on the right) appearing in ‘Bartholomew Fair’
The theatre took a back seat for the next few years, until he wrote his own first complete play, ‘The Thwarted Tangentialist From The End Of Time’. Martin Bennett, Director of the Nightingale Theatre in Brighton, heard some of Dr Toad’s play and asked him to stage it. In May 1996, as part of the Brighton Festival, it played for the first time ever at the Nightingale. The audience(which included Brian Behan,brother of famous Irish writer Brendan Behan amongst others) reaction, was a strange mixture of laughter and bemusement. It was described as iconaclastic, surrealistic and one person later said, that it had a catalystic effect on his life.
The play was in the genre of ‘The Theatre of The Absurd’. It was a two man play with a female narrator with slight overtones of Samuel Beckett.
This a photograph taken in rehearsal for ‘The Thwarted Tangentialist’.
Once again,he took a break from theatre until he was in the middle of his degree in music and related arts mainly to prove to society that he was capable of getting one although he had always hated hierarchy (unless he was at the bottom of the heap). Also he doesn’t suffer himself gladly, however fools are another matter. Learning institutions to his mind where certainly far away from their original conception in Ancient Greek times.(In his own school days he had been bullied by teachers who seemed to have it in for him for some reason calling him a dreamer which of course he was and is and proud of it!) Yet still he managed to bite his lip ( not good fro his singing) and get through the experience and got what is called by some a drinkers degree. There where one or too high moments however like learning some beautiful classical guitar pieces and to sing Opera and above all the staging of his play which he acted in and directed. Whilst on this course and in troubadour roamings he wrote this play his second ‘Le Marriage de Roi Bizarre’. He showed the finished play to the head of Literature who thought it was great and said “Apollinaire would have bean jealous!” and pointed out the strong connection with other writers of the theatre of the absurd. This was strange, as up to this point, Space Toad had only been familiar with the work of one of these writers, Samuel Beckett. So he decided to study the theatre of the absurd for his dissertation and discovered he had a great affinity with writers such as Eugene Ianesco, Alfred Jarry and Fernando Arabel amongst others. He staged a shortened version of the play in the University and there was a fantastic audience reaction with people falling about laughing. Unfortunately the video of this play has mysteriously ‘disappeared’. However, he hopes to put both of his plays on again in the future. He has now also translated them into French available here . So any Absurdist Theatre groups or Theatre Directors please get in contact. Also these plays would make great films!
Here he plays Spannish guitar piece Bolero which was one of the peices he played in Blood Wedding—watch here on youtube
Soon after he had finished his degree, Dr Space Toad was asked to play the music for a Garcia Lorca play: ‘Blood Wedding’ in the Brighton Festival 2000. This was by the Prodigal Theatre Company and they called their version ‘Ballad of the Shadow’. This play was staged in the Brighton Buddhist Centre and everybody congratulated him on the musical pieces he chose and wrote for the play in which he was one of his other personas Pablo Francisco El Duende. It is hoped that there will be another staging of this play in the future. One year later he (again with the Prodigal Theatre Company) played the role of King Claudius in a version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet “The play within the play”.It took place in the grounds of Lewis Castle and was very well received A Victor Hugo TV Production.