The Diabolical Full Story
When Gareth Machin of the Salisbury Playhouse approached us in 2015 about the idea of making a big show for the main house at Salisbury, we had no hesitation in stating that we wanted that show to be ‘Frankenstein’.
Midway through the Dorset leg of a tour of ‘One man and his Cow’, ensconced in our theatrical digs, the kind, eccentric lady of the house had allowed us to use her patio as a “Research Area’, and so it was that we found our noses buried deep in Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’.
Craig, our director, had read the book, and had assured us it was gripping and wonderfully horrific.
“Craig’s full of it. This is rubbish” Stu observed, after several long hours of reading.
Howard, who was slightly ahead of Stu in the book, having started the night before, concurred sadly.
“I know” he sighed. “Terrible. Have you got to the creation of the Monster yet?”
“No.” Stu said, but he had. He just hadn’t noticed it happening, such is the vagueness with which Mary Shelley describes the iconic, electrically-charged moment we all know and love from those famous films:
“With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open.”
That’s as far as she goes.
“What?!” Stu shouted impotently at the book. “How did he do it?!!”, completely oblivious to the brilliance of that passage:
“…already one in the morning…”, “…the rain pattered dismally against the panes…”, “…my candle nearly burnt out…”, “…dull yellow eye of the creature…”
This is the genius of Mary Shelley. Why describe how it happened, when you can describe how it feels? She plunges us into Victor Frankenstein’s point of view, so that we might see it happening for ourselves…
Living Spit started out as a bit of a joke. We had an idea for a show, “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”, based purely on the notion that Howard looks a bit like Henry VIII (He really does!). After cobbling together a script, we were told we had to form a company or we wouldn’t get paid. Never ones to allow small details to stand between us and cold, hard cash, Living Spit was born. We bought the costumes from charity shops, spending less than a tenner. We made the props from various bits we had lying around our respective houses, we drove up and down the country, touring the show to anywhere that would have us. In short, we did everything (And I mean EVERYTHING) ourselves.
In 2016 (4 years and 9 shows later), we found ourselves at the Salisbury Playhouse in the unlikely position of “employing other people.”
Once we’d employed them, they started to say strange things, the like of which we’d never heard before. Things like: “I’ll do that” and: “We’ll make sure that gets done”, “I’ll get in touch with them” and even: “Yes. I can make a model of your head and face from rubber and it’ll look exactly like your head and face.”
Put simply, this show would never have existed had it not been for a select group of amazingly talented, professional people...
A live band joined us onstage, made up of Lauryn Redding, Tom Knott, Mike Slader and Bex Hughes (who also fulfilled the vital role of the Musical Director).
Michael Vale and Sarah June Mills designed the set. Aideen Malone was the Lighting Designer. Mike Beer designed the Sound. Fiona Matthews produced the show for us and Bob Holmes production managed it. And yes, we're told there is a difference.
Rickie Gilgunn stage managed the show and the wonderful Polly “Then I’ve Got Nothing” Meech was the Deputy Stage Manager. The amazing Amber Chapell and Sam Court (collectively known as “Samber”) assistant stage managed, performed technical functions (and sometimes didn’t) and helped Stu manically quick change in the wings. Fiona “Trimmo” Trim company stage managed us.
Henrietta Worral-Thompson (yes she is) and Terri Buxton made and maintained our amazing costumes and the awesome set was built and painted by Tim Reed, Laura Davies, Kat Ross, Rod Holt and Sally Holt.
Neil Gidley and Holly Tomkins made some great props, including the brilliant puppets William Frankenstein and Greg the Hamster (both of which we’re considering manufacturing in bulk and flogging as a new line of children’s toys. Holly - how fast can you turn them around? there’s 3% in it for you…)
The indispensable Barney Meats and John Titcombe were the Technical Managers. Sebastian Warrack, as the Executive Director of Salisbury Playhouse championed our vision and supported us throughout and the long-suffering, ever faithful, downright impressionable Gareth Machin, Artistic Director of the Salisbury Playhouse…well, he’s where it all started. Without his trust, support, guidance and geniality none of this would be happening.
ALL of the amazing people listed above have one thing in common: They all want paying.
Which is why we’ve decided to ditch them all in favour of the streamlined, two-man operation you’ll be witnessing this evening.
All except Trimmo of course. We’re keeping her close. She still owes Howard £1.20.
All other parts played by members of the company