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Grave robbery, drug abuse and a family frog farm

PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 January 2017

Joel Fry, Jeff Rawle and Michael Fentiman in Raising Martha. Picture: Darren Bell

Joel Fry, Jeff Rawle and Michael Fentiman in Raising Martha. Picture: Darren Bell

DBELL

Joel Fry, actor known for Plebs, WIA and You, Me and the Apocalypse, talks to Bridget Galton about Raising Martha on at the Park Theatre

An absurdist farce featuring grave robbery, drug abuse and a family frog farm gets its world premiere at The Park theatre this month.

Raising Martha was penned by David Spicer as an antidote to the “light entertainment hell” of writing gags and links for “shiny floor” TV shows such as No Win No Fee.

It features Drop the Dead Donkey star Jeff Rawle as hapless Inspector Clout investigating the desecration by animal rights campaigners of the matriarch’s grave.

Joel Fry, familiar from TV comedy roles in Plebs, WIA and You, Me and the Apocalypse plays “vegan animal rights fundamentalist” Jago.

“I really liked the dark crazy elements as problems heap up in that controlled frenzy of farce,” he says.

“The big farce element means having to find a collective tempo but if you let the pace dictate too much it will lose definition and audiences will come out not sure what they’ve watched.”

Spicer uses comedy to touch on the state of what he calls our “unpleasant divided embattled world”.

Fry adds: “It’s quite dark and sharp in a good way. Animal rights is a device really to go deeper into what rights we all have, how it’s increasingly hard to be on the same page as everyone else and how people are fighting for their own space in the world. Is what Jago’s fighting for important or has he latched onto something that gives him a sense of identity?”

But he adds: “We don’t want it to be so dark it’s not funny.”

Although hopeful there’ll be another series of WIA in which he plays ‘viral concept designer’ Karl Marx, the RADA graduate is happy to be on stage.

“I always try to do something different to the last job. There’s not much time in TV but in theatre there’s less of a time-is-money vibe and more ‘let’s make it good’. I always feel acting’s a bit pointless if you don’t do a play for a long time.”

Raising Martha runs from January 12 to February 11, parktheatre.co.uk

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