It is a grey day when I run into Nathan Chapman, Artistic Director of SOOP Theatre as I get lost in the rain through Brighton’s Lanes. In the mayhem of Brighton’s ‘Fringe City’ event I follow the trail of Scallywags show leaflets to find him outside the Theatre Royal (where Oxford drama Charley’s Aunt was a post war hit in 1947).
It’s a treat to hear from Nathan all about his theatre company’s outing at the Fringe. Inspired by the Stephen Fry's QI question on Scallywags his company has devised a show on life as a brave auxiliary war hero. We share a brief moment of friendly rivalry as this same question inspired my own Brighton Fringe play too, depicting the life of men and women prepared to kill British spies for a bottle of bootleg liquor. It soon emerges our two plays are looking at different sides of the same coin with SOOP Theatre portraying the absurd reality Scallywags would have faced should the German’s have pushed through with invasion. So we relax and remain as we were, and we note how bombed Brightonians would have appreciated the shelter of the Pavilion cellars behind us during Luftwaffe attacks. Nazi bombers regularly dumped their spare ammunition on Brighton as they headed back to Germany from bombing London so this city, especially in the rain, feels a relevant place to start a tour of a war inspired play.
I love the Scallywags show logo with two beady eyes peaking out from a letter box. SOOP theatre is an abbreviation for ‘seat of our pants theatre’ but to me they seem a highly organised group who are impressively prepared. Their specially built set has been developed to allow for hidden heroes to enter the stage in an unusual manner.
Their show is gaining lots of positive reviews in Brighton where it opened in a pop up venue called The Warren that boasts a hidden garden with bluebells. Now as SOOP Theatre take to the road they are preparing for a run at the Old Fire Station and with their engaging brand of devised physical comedy drama they are sure to set sail full steam ahead.