FEATURE: Moaning Toad – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image left to right: Luke, Chris, Jack

Moaning Toad Productions Ltd, who stand today at the very beginnings of their theatrical adventure, are a freshly founded company made up of best friends and Newcastle University alumni. Their first show, PUNCTURE, a new play which is due to commence at Northern Stage 3 on Tuesday 12th March at 7:30pm, has all the hallmarks of a thought-provoking and entertaining debut production. Here, the boys (Luke Bateman, Jack Hilton, and Chris Whyte) told us a bit more about the show, their ambitions, the company, and what inspires them.  

Luke: Being best mates, who all went to the same University, and all spent so much time in and around the North East’s theatre scene, coupled with the alarming amount of hours we’ve all spent arguing and thinking about theatre, it felt only natural we tried to form our own company. As a group, our aim is to produce theatre with a balance; it’s one thing merely to keep asking questions of an audience, and another thing to only make them laugh, but if there’s zero substance behind any of it, what’s the point? We’re quite big on constructing every little moment, every little scene, or line, as being as funny as it is moving, and if we end up getting that balance right, we think we’ll be onto a winner. PUNCTURE has been inspired by all sorts of things really; we read some Pinter, had a night in watching Love Actually, brainstormed in interesting images for a whole day, and even devised our way through certain sequences that have made it all the way into the play.It’s a pacey show, with plenty of laughs and recognisable relationships, but there’s a lot of dark stuff in there too, and we can’t wait to get it in front of its first audience. New writing is always at its best when it feels like a risk. And this show definitely feels like a risk!

Chris: Unlike any other form of art, theatre always asserts itself in the present. A theatrical event happens once and is wholly reliant on the presence of an audience. The audience too are wholly reliant on the other audience members (no one wants to watch a piece of theatre alone!). In an increasingly individualistic society people have become trapped within themselves, trapped within their feelings and imaginations, theatre has the ability to take people beyond the limits of their own self. The practitioner Peter Brook once said of theatre that inherent within the living event is a ‘dangerous electricity’, partly because of its collective potential. As we embark on our journey as a newly established theatre company our hope is to make entertaining and thought provoking work that realises its collective potential. Moaning Toad will forever be searching for theatres ‘dangerous electricity’ and PUNCTURE is only the beginning.

Jack: Inspiration-wise, it isn’t just about Peter Brook and Love Actually. It’s about Nursery. I used to go to Nursery and I would never dress as me. Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spiderman, James Bond, you name it, i wore it. Maybe it was a pre life crisis, maybe i just liked dressing up as Batman…maybe i still do like dressing up as Batman but that’s not the point. The point is i get to feel like that when i’m with these two. We love getting inside other people’s heads, making them say beautiful and revolting things and watching our audience, laugh, cry and squirm. Puncture, does just that, its hilarious, moving and at times bizarre but it is about love. It is an escape for some and a prison for others but it is everywhere, there is no hiding from it. Our show proves Hugh Grant was right, “love actually is all around”, but Batman isn’t. He should be. He will be in our next show, the boys promised me. 

Puncture is at Northern Stage, Newcastle on on Tuesday 12th March.

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