A Special Humility

Bustling along bookshelves . . .

It’s been rather crowded recently – people, theatre, words, more people, more theatre, more words – on paper, in the air, in that dusty attic posing as my brain. Characters that had previously inhabited the relative comfort of notebooks, sleeping between the pages, are at present being made ready to be brought to life. Dusting off their wigs, hats and coats; now a little fard, a little rouge and powder; polish those shoe buckles, and they are standing in the wings, ready to leap out into the spotlight. Nothing huge, mind, in the way of actual stage-work; just a little conversation here and there – only with unexpected results. It has been an ongoing creative process, with more to come: something else I had previously written to no end has now been taken on board by another set of creatives who are actually enthusiastic to bring it to life; and…

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Five stars for the Wonderful World of Dissocia from London Theatre One:

London Theatre One: The Questors present the Wonderful World of Dissocia

“A brilliant play brilliantly performed”

Well deserved praise! A great production that was over too soon – it was worth all those broken E strings on Lisa’s guitar, which Stage Manager Cathy Swift had to go to Kew to replenish…frequently…

It is also a good moment to mention the go-kart that featured so prominently in the show – now on sale (Cathy’s offer below is taken from the Dissocia FB page):

“Dear readers, At the end of the run of The Wonderful World of Dissocia we will be selling the go kart that Jane and Lisa ride in, and which we bought second hand. I’ve got to tell you that it doesn’t actually fly… but it is brilliant fun, and there is a fight every night amongst the backstage crew, who all want to ride it around the Studio. Let me know if you would like to make an offer for this amazing machine. Alternatively you can buy a brand new one for a cool £670….. http://www.amazon.co.uk/DINO-Side-years-SEATER…/…/B006GPXW9Y ”


Happy riding!

Opening Night : The Wonderful World of Dissocia at The Questors Theatre, Ealing

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Photography: Robert Vass

Lisa is strumming her guitar; a chord snaps. A Swiss clockmaker pays a call to explain that she has lost an hour from her life. In order to restore balance to her life, she must call the Dissocian Embassy and take a lift down to reclaim her hour from the Lost Property Office – which, it turns out, has lost itself.

So begins a series of adventures that seemingly parallel Alice in Wonderland: the lift replaces the rabbit hole, with the Swiss watchmaker standing in for the white Rabbit. Various other encounters include a Dissocian version of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and a bureaucratical White Queen who remains completely unfased by everything including assault and abuse at the hands (or hooves) of a perverse (scape)goat; there is also a trip in a magnificent pedal car which flies across the skies of Dissocia, in pursuit of – or escape from – the dreaded Black Dog King, and finally a magnificent battle.

The story continues to parallel Alice in that it ends with an awakening, although sadly it is not as idyllic as the riverside bank – the ‘awake’ world is a very real and grey place, devoid of colour, almost Dystopian by contrast : small wonder that Lisa has little desire to remain. At one point she describes the hypnotic charm of the siren, luring the sailors who hear it to smash their ships on the rocks. They think it’s worth it – for the song. In the same way, Lisa wishes to return to Dissocia: the colours are brighter there.

The Wonderful World of Dissocia opened to a full house last night, and finished to prolonged and enthusiastic applause: well-earned for a vibrant, colourful, scintillating and sensitive production in the expert hands of David Emmett. The World of Dissocia that Lisa visits is convincingly realised, in all its comedy and terror. Sherralyn Lee shines as a bright, bubbly Lisa, in her increasingly frustrated search for the lost hour, along with a strong supporting cast that includes Sandy Bhardwaj, Emily Thomas, Joe Foster and Allan Soper.

A production rich in detail and well worth seeing on many levels.

The Wonderful World of Dissocia runs until 30th May.

A Night at the Theatre: The Wonderful World of Dissocia at Questors, Ealing

The trailer is up and the rehearsals are winding down – or up – to the big night: Anthony Neilson’s The Wonderful World of Dissocia, which opens 22nd May at The Questors Theatre in Ealing.

The play won the 2004-05 Critics’ Award for Theatre in Scotland for Best New Play and made its London debut at the Royal Court Theatre in March 2007; it was also included in The List’s Best of a Decade in 2009. But as for what to expect when you go to see it, that is perhaps best left to the wonderful words of the director, David Emmet and stage manager Cathy Swift:

 A Wonderful World Awaits

 What’s the most frequent conversation you’ve had over the last year? Mine goes like this:

Member or friend: Hello David. What’s your next production?

Me: The Wonderful World of Dissocia.

Member or Friend: Oh. I’ve never heard of it. (Spoken in a tone of voice that suggests I must have gone mad). What’s it about?

Me: Madness.

Yes, that’s right. And it’s one of the most extraordinary plays you’ve ever seen. And it’s won a lot of awards. And it’s crazy.

What’s in it?

Well, it’s a bit like Alice in Wonderland with added sex and violence. Crazy characters, two insecurity guards, a talking scapegoat, a flying car, a lost property department that’s lost itself, 60 hot dogs per night, a few songs, a light and sound show like you’ve never seen, and a real shock when you come back for the second Act.

Never heard of it? Probably not. Is that a reason not to see it? Definitely not. That’s exactly why you should see it. You’ll be talking about it for ages after.

David Emmet


The Wonderful World of Dissocia: The great props challenge

When I offered to Stage Manage The Wonderful World of Dissocia several months ago, David looked at me askance and said, ‘You do know it’s very complicated and requires some challenging props, don’t you?’

Now, a sensible person would have got hold of a copy of the script and found out what they were letting themselves in for. But not me. I said it would be fine, and before I could say ‘pedal car for two women’ David had put me down as Stage Manager on iQ. The die was cast and there was no turning back.

I figured that hiring the aforementioned pedal car would present the biggest challenge, and spent many hours Googling and phoning organisations before concluding I would have to buy one on eBay. After a few wild goose chases I managed to find the splendid machine that you will see if you come to see the show. It’s great fun for children and adults – as driver Emily and passenger Sherralyn will testify. If you like it you can make us an offer!

The toy polar bear was no problem at all. I found one when walking my dog in the park. I had a quick look to check that there were no distraught children around – there weren’t, so I have ‘borrowed’ it. After the run I will return it to the spot where I found it, if Sherralyn will let me. She has grown quite attached to it. The child-sized polar bear costume was a far greater challenge and we have the talented Jennie Yates and her team to thank for ours.

I haven’t even mentioned the 60 hot dogs we need for each performance. Real? Plastic? Real buns and plastic frankfurters? Suffice to say that I will never want to see another hot dog once the production is over.

Thanks to Sarah, CJ and Pip for their help with props and other aspects of the show.

Cathy Swift


The Wonderful World of Dissocia

runs 22-30 May in the Studio at The Questors Theatre at 7.45 p.m.

(matinée 24th May 2.30 p.m.)

 Bargain tickets £6.50 on 22 May

A Night at the Theatre: Animals at 503 (Latchmere), Battersea

Bustling along bookshelves . . .

Arsenic and Old Lace meets George Orwell in this dystopian comedy noire; admittedly, we are missing mad uncle Teddy and murderous brother Jonathan with his creepy alcoholic surgeon Dr Einstein – still, the spirit is there and continues unabated throughout, almost as madcap and surreal, threaded through with a social consciousness of how close humanity can trip over the edge in the hands of … bureaucracy. And not just any bureaucracy. Orwell was disturbingly prophetic in many ways, and the one conjured up in Adams’ play has already spiralled out of control, making gods and demons out of the characters that live it: farce, blackmail and something nasty in the woodshed combine to make this a pleasantly chilling and surreal mystery.
It is the Future. Arguably, a not too distant one, with thinly disguised policies of the present done up as a meritocratic system: those who can still pass ‘Utility’…

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London : The Vampire Cemetery

Something for a new plot-line perhaps, whether mystery or murder – perfect setting for a Victorian detective/horror novel….


142870_2b197e04Highgate Cemetery Revisited: The Ghoul Who Became a Media Darling…

Have you ever visited Highgate Cemetery near London? Constructed in the 1800s and in bad repair by the 1960s, Highgate Cemetery has quite a reputation—the Vampire Cemetery. The mass-media reported the eerie goings-on in the ’70s; however, nobody has ever been able to discover what truly went on in Highgate Cemetery, though many have tried to explain the alleged strange experiences.

We have no answers—just reports of what some have said have happened.

As two young girls headed home one evening after seeing friends and having a good time, they passed the cemetery. They saw four bodies, apparently emerging from their tombs.

Later, a couple walking past the graveyard saw “something” hovering within the graveyard. As they watched, they happened to see its face—a face they claim terrify them to this day.

Soon, the stories began to spread, and people…

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A Handful of … Words.

Bustling along bookshelves . . .

I went to see a play the other afternoon; I had been waiting to see it ever since I spied a line about its intriguing title on Twitter in September: Fear in a Handful of Dust.

Then I saw it was set during the First World War. More, it was set in the trenches. Not much else was said at the time, but it was enough to whet my curiosity, so when last week I saw it was on – and further, that there was a writing opportunity involved, I stuffed my note-and sketch-books into the Black Hole that serves as a bag, and set off.

Had I been there before, I might have made a better choice of bus; next time I shall be more prepared. I arrived at CogArtSpace, lunch-less and virtually breakfast-less, in time for one very welcome mug of tea which they kindly allowed me…

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Halloween Finale Special Giveaway

The weekend may be over but the spooking ain’t … publishers and authors have linked up to offer a Halloween bag of giveaway goodies:


by Cass McMain

Summers’ End

by V.R.Christensen

Ungentle Sleep

by B.Lloyd


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway lasts until 9th November with 5 prizes each consisting of the 3 e-books together; with 10 runners-up receiving two of the titles, & 15 runners-up  to receive one title.

WATCH (by Cass McMain):

“Before he knew about the bruises, he knew about the cheating. And before he knew about the cheating, he knew about the blood. He’d seen Edgar with blood on his hands
before, after all. But there had been more and more of it – and Edgar had seemed less and less concerned about hiding it…

Corky inherits her Uncle Moony’s diary and finds he had a strange and frightening obsession about his brother… a brother with his own disturbing practices. Moony
watched Edgar as though his life depended on it. Edgar watched his brother right back. But Edgar disappeared, and now nobody has seen him for years.

Corky can’t decide which one was crazier. Now that Moony is gone, who will be forced to take up the next watch? What has she really inherited?

A scintillating, beautiful novel about difference, suspicion, and acceptance of one’s own nature.”

Amazon: ” If you enjoy reading about vampires and suspenseful books you’ll enjoy this.”

Summers’ End (by V.R. Christensen):

“The snapping of a twig startled her. She looked around to find the source of the noise. There was no one there. The night was perfectly still. Still, but for the faint sound of footsteps in the distance. They were coming nearer. She searched in the darkness, her heart beating wildly, but there was nothing there. The steps grew nearer still, until she thought they were just before her. Something brushed against her, like the sleeve of a heavy woolen jacket. And still there was nothing at all to be seen! She removed her spectacles and, squinting into the darkness, thought for a moment that she saw the faint outline of a man. She put her spectacles back on again and saw nothing at all. Even the footsteps had vanished. She stood there a moment longer, unable still to choose a direction. She did not wish to follow the footsteps, but neither did she wish to start upon the path from which they had come. She must make a decision, however.

She took off the spectacles and looked again into the night, but predictably she saw nothing but blurry and hazy darkness. Upon putting them back on and looking once more in the direction the footsteps had gone, a light appeared.”

Victorian England, a runaway girl and a sinister pair of spectacles … a chilling tale for the fireplace.

Ungentle Sleep (by B.Lloyd):

Set in 1930, a house party has gathered, in part to celebrate the recent engagement of the daughter of the house. But there is. apparently, an uninvited guest .. inadvertently let out, to wreak mild havoc and insanity on the Maydews and their guests. That nasty incident involving Eleanor, followed by unpleasantness over Penny’s dress, and what is it Aubrey can hear, on the outer edge of his dreams?

Hysteria, missed cocktails, and something nasty in the attic.

Snrrip, snrrip. Snip, snap.

Even the rats run away.


Coffin Hop Giveaways …

Bustling along bookshelves . . .

Starting on the 29th and ending on the 30th, there will be a Giveaway of ghost novella, Ungentle Sleep – set in 1930, a house party has gathered, in part to celebrate the recent engagement of the daughter of the house. But there is. apparently, an uninvited guest .. inadvertently let out, to wreak mild havoc and insanity on the Maydews and their guests. That nasty incident involving Eleanor, followed by unpleasantness over Penny’s dress, and what is it Aubrey can hear, on the outer edge of his dreams?

Hysteria, missed cocktails, and something nasty in the attic.

Snrrip, snrrip. Snip, snap.

Even the rats run away.


This will be followed by another Giveaway straight after, starting on the 30th and ending on the 1st November: a free copy is to be won of Cass McMain’s Watch, an alternative take on vampirism (great review here on Alibi) –


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