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Festival 47 at the King’s Head: Adele, Jeremy Corbyn and just ‘normal’ girls

PUBLISHED: 17:55 05 July 2017

Rhiannon Neads and Sally O'Leary of Stiff&Kitsch

Rhiannon Neads and Sally O'Leary of Stiff&Kitsch

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The annual celebration of new writing Festival 47 returns to the King’s Head Theatre. Zoe Paskett talks to two companies about bringing their work to the stage

Rhiannon Neads and Sally O'Leary of Stiff&KitschRhiannon Neads and Sally O'Leary of Stiff&Kitsch

There’s Adele fever at the King’s Head Theatre’s upcoming Festival 47.

She’s the inspiration behind theatre company Stiff&Kitsch’s two-hander and the name of the lead character in Sheer Drop Theatre’s Wet Bread.

“Adele is always going on protests,” says Morag Sims, who plays Adele (and 12 other characters) in Wet Bread. “She’s always standing outside shouting through a megaphone, she’s a vegan, she cares about the environment, she loves Jeremy Corbyn. She’s very principled but also she’s blinkered to the world around her. We were looking at how maybe her life would be better if she learnt to listen to other people a bit more.”

Alone on the stage and playing 13 characters, Morag has her work cut out for her – the range of personalities is bound to be exhausting: best friend Penny, who goes to the protests with Adele but wishes she would calm down, her mother ill with cancer, a “good Tory” and Roger “the homeless guy she takes into her flat in an attempt to solve homelessness”.

“I speak in dialogue with myself and I think what’s quite nice about that is it’s like Adele is in her own little bubble, her whole world is her,” she says.

Wet Bread, which refers to the fact that some things have the ability to unify everyone on an issue – no one likes a soggy sandwich - explores how we can’t separate politics from our relationships with people.

Morag Sims plays activist Adele in Wet Bread. Picture: Nick RutterMorag Sims plays activist Adele in Wet Bread. Picture: Nick Rutter

“We’ve become very bad at listening to each other and we’ve got people very strongly on the left going ‘argh’ at people on the right and vice versa and we’ve lost the ability to sit in the pub and chat and disagree and go ‘it’s ok, we disagree but we’re still friends.’”

As a staunch Corbynite, Adele would be “thrilled” to be performing the show in Islington on Corbyn’s doorstep, says Morag.

“We do have a rather lovely t-shirt with his face on it that features in the show. It’s actually absolutely perfect that when we do it in London, we do it in Islington.”

Stiff&Kitsch’s Sally O’Leary and Rhiannon Neads’ musical comedy Adele is Younger Than Us is pretty self explanatory.

“We were inspired by looking at all of the success she’d had,” says Sally. “She’s used her relationship history to create an empire of love songs – we used that as a jumping off point. The show is based around our own disastrous love lives.”

Rhiannon adds: “The main idea is how do you write an epic love song when you don’t have any epic love stories to draw from? The show is very much about love and relationships and our history of it. There are a lot of songs, but it’s not an Adele tribute!”

Morag Sims plays activist Adele in Wet Bread. Picture: Nick RutterMorag Sims plays activist Adele in Wet Bread. Picture: Nick Rutter

A sell out at Edinburgh Fringe last year, it fed into their second show together which they also bring to Festival 47: By All Accounts Two Normal Girls.

“When we were in Edinburgh we had a lot of realty lovely reviews, but all of the reviews said, ‘they’re two average girls’, ‘two regular girls’ or ‘two normal girls’,” says Sally. “What is it that makes us normal, and how do you make a success of life when there’s nothing special about you!?”

Festival 47 at the King’s Head Theatre brings together 20 new shows for two weeks in July featuring comedy, drama, musical theatre and storytelling.

“It’s amazingly empowering,” says Rhiannon. “In an industry where you’re always waiting on auditions or waiting on someone to call you or cast you, to just think ‘oh I can write something and put it on and I’ll be in it and it’ll happen’. It’s a great place for young performers to start.”

Sally chips in: “Which is why things like Festival 47 are so good,”

Wet Bread (July 10, 11 and 13, 8pm); Adele is Younger Than Us (July 15, 9:30pm) and By All Accounts Two Normal Girls (July 15 and 16, 2pm).

Festival 47

20 shows,two weeks: there’s lots to look out for from genres across the board.

Thelma Ruby returns for a reading of Momma Golda on July 22, 1:30pm.

Deadly Dialogues, by Angry Bairds (July 20 -21, 6:30pm) explores the process of radicalisation and extremism in the 21st century, based on research from think tank Quilliam.

Dog murder mystery by Stephanie Withers, Lead Suspect (July 17-20, 9:30pm) is inspired by the Crufts poisoning scandal of 2015 and tells the story through canine eyes.

Bridle (July 11, 12 and 16, 9:30pm) is a sharp satire on female sexuality and attempts to control it. Aspects of female behaviour have very quietly become criminal offenses and Bridle explores shame, heartbreak, pornography, body image, violence, control and a need for new perspectives on how we discuss female sexuality.

Full programme and tickets: kingsheadtheatre.com.

King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, N1 1QN. kingsheadtheatre.com

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