Login Register

Festivities thrive within four walls of original comedy

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 06, 2013

Above: Lewis Howard and Daniel Richards in Christmas.Time by Near-ta Theatre. Below: Co-writer Ciaran Clarke

Above: Lewis Howard and Daniel Richards in Christmas.Time by Near-ta Theatre. Below: Co-writer Ciaran Clarke

Comments (0)

Charlie and Toby are feeling a bit low, and it's easy to understand why. It's Christmas Day and they're locked up in a cell together serving time at Her Majesty's pleasure.

But why shouldn't they be having a merry Christmas in spite of their separation from family and friends? So, instead of sitting around moping they get stuck into their own Yuletide celebration right where they are.

Here begins Christmas. Time. – a festival of carols, Claus, Christ and custody presented by Near-ta Theatre.

The fast-rising Falmouth-based company are bringing the show to a host of Westcountry venues in the run-up to the big day, as part of a wider tour of southern counties.

It's a chance to join the unfortunate pair on a fantastical adventure through Dickens, pantomime, musical, traditional dinner and seasonal films, building a wonderfully jolly Christmas around them with songs, snowmen and laughter.

Asking friends and family what Christmas means to them was the starting point for actor friends Ciaran Clarke and Daniel Richards. They started writing the two-hander script five years ago when they were both aged just 20.

Ciaran was studying drama and theatre studies at university in Dublin; Daniel had come over to stay for a few months.

"We consulted everyone we could and tried to get as many of their ideas into the show – the anticipation, the tradition, the warmth of Christmas," says Ciaran, who was one the key movers and shakers behind the revival of The Poly in Falmouth as a vibrant arts hub for the town.

The show went down a storm when it premiered at The Poly five years ago and it's been going from strength to strength ever since, building and developing into something of a classic on its home turf.

Now it's spreading its wings wider than ever.

"It's lovely to be taking out new original work that was developed in Cornwall by a Cornish company," says Ciaran, who has recently been working as an actor with Miracle Theatre. "It's a massive step up."

He and Daniel started out performing it together, but Daniel is currently sharing the stage with Lewis Howard, who took over last year when Ciaran was busy.

"Lewis did such a grand job. He is a fantastically talented actor and pianist," adds Ciaran.

The show has been thoroughly freshened up for Christmas 2013 by director Simon Harvey, known for his sterling work with companies like o-region and Kneehigh.

Ciaran is ambitious for the future of Near-ta and says there are many more projects in the pipeline.

Christmas. Time is one of 14 shows he and Dan have created together over nine years. They have known each other since primary school days in Falmouth, becoming close friends when they both worked on a play called Brokenville as part of the National Theatre's Connections programme developing new plays for youth theatres.

"On the way home from rehearsals one day, Dan said he had an idea for a play, based on his girlfriend's cat in a box on the way to the vet," explains Ciaran.

"Then Queen's I Want To Break Free came on the radio and that was the beginning. We ended up revisiting the First World War from the point of view of cats; 140 people came to see it and we put the money we made back into the company.

"We would love to keep building on what we have achieved, developing new writing," he says. "All of our stuff tends to be comic and we thoroughly enjoy it. It would be lovely if we could be considered worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Miracle or Kneehigh one day."

Near-ta Theatre's Christmas. Time is at The Acorn, Penzance tomorrow; Treviglas Community College, Newquay on December 12; The Poly, Falmouth (thepoly.org) on December 18; Landulph Memorial Hall, Landulph, Saltash on December 19; Bridgwater Arts Centre, Somerset (bridgwaterarts.co.uk) on December 20; Polbathic Village Hall, Polbathic, St Germans, on December 21; and Launceston Town Hall on December 23. For booking Cornish shows, except The Poly, visit crbo.co.uk.

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters